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Momentum Investing Strategy (Strategy Overview)

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Equity Premium

Governments are largely insulated from market forces. Companies are not. Investments in stocks therefore carry substantial risk in comparison with holdings of government bonds, notes or bills. The marketplace presumably rewards risk with extra return. How much of a return premium should investors in equities expect? These blog entries examine the equity risk premium as a return benchmark for equity investors.

Performance of Defined Outcome ETFs

Defined outcome Exchange-Traded Funds (ETF) use complex options strategies that buffer against loss but cap gain to generate a defined outcome for investors over a predefined period. Are they attractive? In their February 2023 paper entitled “The Dynamics of Defined Outcome Exchange Traded Funds”, Luis García-Feijóo and Brian Silverstein analyze average performance of the Innovator Defined Outcome ETF Buffer Series from 2019 through 2021. They also model the performance of the underlying strategy and simulate average outcome during January 2013 through August 2022. They consider three benchmarks: SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY); 50% allocation to SPY and 50% allocation to iShares Core US Aggregate Bond ETF (AGG); and, iShares MSCI USA Min Vol Factor ETF (USMV). Using actual and simulated returns for the selected defined outcome ETFs/benchmarks as described, they find that:

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Machine Learning Applied to U.S. Sector Rotation

Can machine learning perfect equity sector rotation? In the January 2023 version of their paper entitled “Deep Sector Rotation Swing Trading”, flagged by a subscriber, Joel Bock and Akhilesh Maewal present a sector rotation strategy guided by multiple-input, multiple output deep learning model. The strategy chooses weekly from among 11 U.S. sectors using exchange-traded fund (ETF) proxies. Specifically, each week during each year, they:

  • Train the machine learning model on the last two years of weekly (Friday close) historical sector ETF prices and volumes and sometimes auxiliary economic data (10-year U.S. Treasury yield, USD currency index, crude oil proxy and stock market volatility) to predict next-week opening and closing prices for each ETF.
  • Compare the predicted return estimate for each ETF to a dynamically updated threshold return to screen for potential buys.
  • Apply additional filters to screen out potential buys with unusual past losses to accommodate investor loss aversion.
  • At the next-week open, allocate available capital to surviving sector ETFs based on respective past win rate (profitable trade) and respective past sector trade momentum.
  • Liquidate all positions just prior to the next-week close.

Their benchmark is buying and holding the S&P 500 Index with reinvested dividends. Using weekly inputs as described during January 2012 through December 2022, they find that:

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Add REITs to SACEVS?

What happens if we extend the “Simple Asset Class ETF Value Strategy” (SACEVS) with a real estate risk premium, derived from the yield on equity Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT), represented by the FTSE NAREIT Equity REITs Index? To investigate, we apply the SACEVS methodology to the following asset class exchange-traded funds (ETF), plus cash:

3-month Treasury bills (Cash)
iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond (TLT)
iShares iBoxx $ Investment Grade Corporate Bond (LQD)
SPDR Dow Jones REIT (RWR) through September 2004 dovetailed with Vanguard REIT ETF (VNQ) thereafter
SPDR S&P 500 (SPY)

This set of ETFs relates to four risk premiums, as specified below: (1) term; (2) credit (default); (3) real estate; and, (4) equity. We focus on effects of adding the real estate risk premium on gross compound annual growth rates (CAGR), maximum drawdowns (MaxDD) and annual Sharpe ratios of the Best Value (picking the most undervalued premium) and Weighted (weighting all undervalued premiums according to degree of undervaluation) versions of SACEVS. Using lagged quarterly S&P 500 earnings, monthly S&P 500 Index levels and monthly yields for 3-month U.S. Treasury bill (T-bill), the 10-year Constant Maturity U.S. Treasury note (T-note), Moody’s Seasoned Baa Corporate Bonds and FTSE NAREIT Equity REITs Index since March 1989 (limited by availability of earnings data), and monthly dividend-adjusted closing prices for the above asset class ETFs since July 2002, all through February 2023, we find that: Keep Reading

Fed Model Nuance

Is there a way to restore/enhance the relevance to investors of the Fed model, which is based on a putative investor-driven positive relationship between stock market earnings yield (equity earnings-to-price ratio) and U.S. Treasury bond (10-year) yield? In his February 2023 paper entitled “The Fed Model: Is it Still With Us?”, David McMillan re-examines the predictive power of this relationship with the addition of regime shifts that may expose predictive power not persistent across the full sample. He considers three versions of the Fed model:

  1. Fed1 – ratio of earnings yield to bond yield (yield ratio).
  2. Fed2 – simple difference between earnings yield and bond yield (yield gap).
  3. Fed3 – logarithmic version of Fed2 (log yield gap).

He tests the power of each model variation to predict stock market returns at horizons of 1, 3 and 12 months, either including or excluding earnings yield and the interest rate term structure (U.S. Treasury 10-year yield minus 3-month yield) as control variables. He considers two ways to detect regime shifts in each model variation: (1) regressing each series on a constant term and looking for a break in its value; and, (2) a Markov-switching approach. Using monthly S&P Composite index level and earnings, and 10-year and 3-month U.S. Treasury yields during January 1959 through December 2021, he finds that:

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U.S. Equity Premium?

A subscriber requested measurement of a “premium” associated with U.S. stocks relative to those of other developed markets by looking at the difference in returns between the following two exchange-traded funds (ETF):

Using monthly dividend-adjusted closing prices for these ETFs during August 2001 (limited by EFA) through January 2023, we find that: Keep Reading

Stock Return Anomaly Evaluation Tools

How can researchers assess the true value and robustness of new stock return anomalies (predictors) in consideration for addition to the factor zoo? In their January 2023 paper entitled “Assaying Anomalies”, Robert Novy-Marx and Mihail Velikov present a protocol/tool set for dissecting and understanding newly proposed cross-sectional stock return predictors. The tools address the most important issues involved in testing asset pricing strategies, including some machine learning techniques. They pay particular attention to implementation costs that prevent exploitation of predictors with good gross returns (as with high turnover and/or overweighting small stocks). The tool set, including automated report generator, is available as a free web application and a public github repository. Key aspects of reports generated by this tool set are:

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Aggregate Net Insider Trading and Future Stock Market Returns

Does aggregate insider stock buying and selling offer clues about future stock market returns? In their January 2023 paper entitled “Aggregate Insider Trading in the S&P 500 and the Predictability of International Equity Premia”, Andre Guettler, Patrick Hable, Patrick Launhardt and Felix Miebs investigate relationships between net aggregate insider trading and future stock market excess returns at horizons from one month to one year. They define net aggregate insider trading as unscheduled open market insider purchases minus sales, divided by purchases plus sales. They focus on S&P 500 firm insider trading and S&P 500 Index excess returns (relative to the U.S. Treasury bill yield). They also consider U.S. non-S&P 500 insider trading. They further look at insider trading and stock market excess returns within Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain and Italy. Using monthly aggregations of the specified insider trading data from 2iQ and monthly stock market index returns during January 2004 through December 2018, they find that:

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Exploiting Credit Standard Changes to Time the Stock Market

Can investors exploit information about business credit tightening/loosening as reported since 1990 in the Federal Reserve’s quarterly Senior Loan Officer Survey to time the U.S. stock market? In the January 2023 draft of his paper entitled “Profitable Timing of the Stock Market with the Senior Loan Officer Survey”, Linus Wilson examines the power of “Net Percentage of Domestic Banks Tightening Standards for Commercial and Industrial Loans to Large and Middle-Market Firms” to predict S&P 500 Index next-quarter returns. A positive (negative) reading means that credit conditions are tightening (loosening) for large and medium-sized firms. Specifically, he relates January survey results to subsequent April-June stock market returns, May survey results to July-September returns, August survey results to October-December returns and November survey results to January-March returns. He considers the full sample of 32 years, two subperiods of 15 years and three subperiods of 10 years. For portfolio tests, he uses the first 15-year subperiod to model allocation decisions to the S&P 500 Index/3-month U.S. Treasury bills (either long-short the stock index or long-only the index) and applies the model to a July 2005 through March 2022 test period. Using quarterly survey results, monthly S&P 500 Index levels and monthly estimated S&P 500 dividends (from Shiller’s data) during April 1990 through March 2022, he finds that: Keep Reading

Avoiding Options Expiration Week

A subscriber requested confirmation that a strategy of holding SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY) at all times except options expiration week beats holding SPY all the time. To investigate, we look at holding SPY at all times except from the close on the second Friday of each month to the close on the third Friday of each month (Strategy). When the market is closed on Friday, we use the Thursday or next earliest close. We focus on compound annual growth rate (CAGR) and maximum drawdown (MaxDD) as essential performance statistics. We apply round-trip trading frictions of 0.1% for SPY-cash switches. Given settlement/cash-sweep delays, we assume zero return on cash. Using daily dividend-adjusted closes of SPY from inception in January 1993 through December 2022, we find that: Keep Reading

Bitcoin Trend Predicts U.S. Stock Market Return?

A subscriber asked about an assertion that bitcoin (BTC) price trend/return predicts return of the S&P 500 Index (SP500). To investigate, we relate BTC returns to SP500 returns at daily, weekly and monthly frequencies. We rationalize the different trading schedules for these two series by excluding BTC trading dates that are not also SP500 trading days. Most results are conceptual, but we test three versions of an SP500 timing strategy based on prior BTC returns focused on compound annual growth rate (CAGR) and maximum drawdown (MaxDD). Using daily SP500 levels and (pruned) BTC prices during 9/17/2014 (limited by the BTC series) through 12/21/2022, we find that:

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