Objective research to aid investing decisions

Value Investing Strategy (Strategy Overview)

Allocations for July 2022 (Final)

Momentum Investing Strategy (Strategy Overview)

Allocations for July 2022 (Final)
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Calendar Effects

The time of year affects human activities and moods, both through natural variations in the environment and through artificial customs and laws. Do such calendar effects systematically and significantly influence investor/trader attention and mood, and thereby equity prices? These blog entries relate to calendar effects in the stock market.

Asset Class ETF Seasonalities?

Do exchange-traded funds (ETF) that track asset classes, such as those used in the Simple Asset Class ETF Momentum Strategy (SACEMS) and the Simple Asset Class ETF Value Strategy (SACEVS), exhibit reliable seasonalities? To check, we look at average return by calendar month for the following nine ETFs:

  • SPDR S&P 500 (SPY)
  • iShares Russell 2000 Index (IWM)
  • iShares MSCI EAFE Index (EFA)
  • iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index (EEM)
  • iShares Barclays 20+ Year Treasury Bond (TLT)
  • iShares iBoxx $ Investment Grade Corporate Bond (LQD)
  • Vanguard REIT (VNQ)
  • SPDR Gold Shares (GLD)
  • PowerShares DB Commodity Index Tracking (DBC)

Using monthly dividend-adjusted returns for these ETFs over a common sample period during March 2006 (limited by DBC) through August 2021, we find that: Keep Reading

Testing a QQQ Swing Trade Strategy

A subscriber requested review of a swing trade strategy that buys and sells Invesco QQQ Trust (QQQ) according to the following rules:

  • Buy at the close when it is either Monday or Tuesday and QQQ (Close-Low)/(High-Low) is 0.15 or less.
  • Subsequently sell at the close when it is higher than the prior-day high.

To investigate, to simplify portfolio cash management, we assume that there are no overlapping trades (if a position opens on Monday, another position does not open on Tuesday). We further assume that cash earns the 3-month U.S. Treasury bills (T-bill) yield when not in QQQ and that frictions for switching between T-bills and QQQ are 0.10% of trade value. Using daily high, low, close and dividend-adjusted close (to calculate returns) for QQQ and daily T-bill close during March 10, 1999 (QQQ inception) through August 5, 2021, we find that:

U.S. Stock Market Returns Around Scheduled FOMC Meetings

A subscriber requested testing of a strategy that buys SPDR S&P 500 (SPY) at the open on the day before each scheduled Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting and sells at the close. Using daily dividend-adjusted SPY open and close prices and dates of FOMC meetings during January 2016 through June 2021 (43 meetings), we find that: Keep Reading

SACEMS with Overnight Return Capture

In view of research indicating that overnight (close-to-open) returns are on average significantly higher than open-to-close returns, a subscriber proposed an enhancement to the Simple Asset Class ETF Momentum Strategy (SACEMS), as follows:

  • Instead of ranking SACEMS assets at the market close on the last trading day of each month, rank them at the open.
  • Sell any assets leaving SACEMS portfolios at the open.
  • Buy any assets entering SACEMS portfolios at the close.

Due to complexity of precisely programming a backtest of this setup, we instead run the following tests:

  1. Compare average daily open-to-close and close-to-open returns for each SACEMS non-cash asset over available sample periods since July 2002.
  2. Compare SACEMS portfolio performances during July 2006 through May 2021 for: (a) ranking assets at the open on the last trading day of each month and executing all trades at the open; and, (b) ranking assets at the close on the last trading day of each month and executing all trades at the close (baseline SACEMS).
  3. Calculate SACEMS portfolio performances during July 2006 through May 2021 for a variation that ranks assets at the open on the last trading day of each month, liquidates SACEMS portfolios at the open and reforms them at the close. This variation is more aggressive in exploiting an overnight return effect than the proposed approach, but is easier to program.

We consider Top 1, equal-weighted (EW) Top 2 and EW Top 3 SACEMS portfolios. We focus on full-sample gross compound annual growth rate, gross annual Sharpe ratio and maximum drawdown based on monthly data for portfolio comparisons. Using dividend-adjusted opening and closing prices for all SACEMS assets during July 2002 through May 2021, we find that: Keep Reading

Stock Returns Around Memorial Day

Does the Memorial Day holiday signal any unusual U.S. stock market return effects? By its definition, this holiday brings with it any effects from three-day weekends and sometimes the turn of the month. Prior to 1971, the U.S. celebrated Memorial Day on May 30. Effective in 1971, Memorial Day became the last Monday in May. To investigate the possibility of short-term effects on stock market returns around Memorial Day, we analyze the historical behavior of the stock market during the three trading days before and the three trading days after the holiday. Using daily closing levels of the S&P 500 Index for 1950 through 2020 (71 observations), we find that: Keep Reading

“Sell in May” Over the Long Run

Does the conventional wisdom to “Sell in May” (and “Buy in November”, hence also the term “Halloween Effect”) work over the long run, perhaps due to biological/psychological effects of seasons (Seasonal Affective Disorder)? To check, we turn to the long run dataset of Robert Shiller. This data set includes monthly levels of the S&P Composite Index, calculated as average of daily closes during the month. We split the investing year into two half-years (seasons): May through October, and November through April. Using S&P Composite Index levels, associated dividend yields and contemporaneous long-term interest rates (comparable to yields on 10-year U.S. Treasury notes) from the Shiller dataset spanning April 1871 through April 2021, we find that: Keep Reading

U.S. Stock Market End-of-Quarter Effect

Does the U.S. stock market have a predictable pattern of returns around ends of calendar quarters? Do funds deploy cash to bid stocks up at quarter ends to boost portfolio values in quarterly reports (with subsequent reversals)? Or, do they sell stocks to raise cash for fund redemptions? Is any end-of-quarter effect distinct from the Turn-of-the-Month (TOTM) effect? To investigate, we calculate average daily stock market (S&P 500 Index) returns before and after ends of calendar quarters and compare those returns to TOTM returns. Using daily closes of the S&P 500 Index during January 1928 through mid-April 2021, we find that: Keep Reading

Seasonal Timing of Monthly Investment Increments

A subscriber requested evaluation of three retirement investment alternatives, assuming a constant increment invested at the end of each month, as follows:

  1. 50-50: allocate each increment via fixed percentages to stocks and bonds (for comparability, we use 50% to each).
  2. Seasonal 1: during April through September (October through March), allocate 100% of each increment to stocks (bonds).
  3. Seasonal 2: during April through September (October through March), allocate 100% of each increment to bonds (stocks).

The hypothesis is that seasonal variation in asset class allocations could improve overall long-term investment performance. We conduct a short-term test using SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY) as a proxy for stocks and iShares iBoxx $ Investment Grade Corporate Bond ETF (LQD) as a proxy for bonds. We then conduct a long-term test using Vanguard 500 Index Fund Investor Shares (VFINX) as a proxy for stocks and Vanguard Long-Term Investment-Grade Fund Investor Shares (VWESX) as a proxy for bonds. Based on the setup, we focus on terminal value as the essential performance metric. Using total (dividend-adjusted) returns for SPY and LQD since July 2002 and for VFINX and VWESX since January 1980, all through December 2020, we find that: Keep Reading

Hope for Stocks Around Inauguration Day?

Do investors swing toward optimism around U.S. presidential inauguration days, focusing on future opportunities? Or, does the day remind investors of political uncertainty and conflict? To investigate, we analyze daily returns of the S&P 500 Index around inauguration day. We consider subsamples of no party change and party change. Using inauguration dates since 1928 and daily S&P 500 Index levels during 1928 through 2020, we find that: Keep Reading

Stock Option Momentum and Seasonality

Do options of individual stocks exhibit momentum and seasonality patterns? In their November 2020 paper entitled “Momentum, Reversal, and Seasonality in Option Returns”, Christopher Jones, Mehdi Khorram and Haitao Mo investigate momentum and seasonality effects for options on U.S. common stocks. They focus on performance of straddles, combining a put and a call with the same strike price and expiration date. They balance needs for liquidity and sample size by requiring positive open interest during the holding period but not the momentum calculation interval. Specifically, on each monthly option expiration date, they:

  1. Form two straddles from near-the-money options expiring next month for each for each stock: (1) the pair with call delta closest to 0.5 for calculating momentum; and, (2) the pair with call delta closest to 0.5 and with positive open interest for both the put and the call when selected for calculating momentum portfolio return.
  2. Construct from these pairs zero-delta straddles using bid-ask midpoints as prices and calculate monthly straddle excess returns relative to the 1-month Treasury bill yield. This process generates about 1,600 straddles per month with average monthly excess return -5.6% and very large standard deviations.
  3. Calculate momentum as average monthly excess return over a specified lookback interval (rather than cumulative return, to suppress effects of return outliers).
  4. Rank straddle returns into equal-weighted fifths (quintiles) based on momentum and calculate average return for each quintile and for a portfolio that is long the top quintile and short the bottom quintile.

Using end-of-day open interest and bid-ask quotes for call and put options on U.S. common stocks from OptionMetric and trading data for underlying stocks during January 1996 through June 2019, they find that: Keep Reading

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