Objective research to aid investing decisions

Value Investing Strategy (Strategy Overview)

Allocations for February 2023 (Final)
Cash TLT LQD SPY

Momentum Investing Strategy (Strategy Overview)

Allocations for February 2023 (Final)
1st ETF 2nd ETF 3rd ETF

Fundamental Valuation

What fundamental measures of business success best indicate the value of individual stocks and the aggregate stock market? How can investors apply these measures to estimate valuations and identify misvaluations? These blog entries address valuation based on accounting fundamentals, including the conventional value premium.

Stock Neighborhood Momentum Effect

Can investors make the stock return momentum effect stronger/more reliable by isolating stocks for which many similar stocks exhibit very strong or very weak past returns? In his December 2022 paper entitled “Neighbouring Assets”, Sina Seyfi explores this question by sorting stocks based on average past returns of other stocks with the most similar sets of 94 characteristics (neighbor stocks). He measures similarity between two stocks as the aggregate distance of their normalized and winsorized (excluding top and bottom 1% of values) characteristics over a baseline rolling 10-year history. His baseline “neighborhood” is 1,000 stocks. His baseline past return metric is average monthly value-weighted return of neighbor stocks over the past year. He considers three stock universes, consisting of all NYSE/AMEX/NASDAQ stocks: (1) excluding the 5% with the smallest market capitalizations; (2) excluding those below the 20% breakpoint of NYSE market capitalizations; and, (3) excluding those below the median of NYSE market capitalizations. He each month sorts stocks into tenths (deciles) of average past return of neighborhood stocks and reforms a value-weighted portfolio that is long (short) those in the decile with the highest (lowest) neighbor-stock average past return. Using monthly characteristics and returns for the specified stocks during January 1970 (with portfolio formation commencing January 1980) through December 2021, he finds that: Keep Reading

New Technology Exposure and Stock Returns

Do stocks with high exposures to new technologies outperform? In her December 2022 paper entitled “New Technologies and Stock Returns”, Jinyoung Kim examines future returns of stocks with relatively high exposures to new technologies as measured via patent analysis. Each June, she applies machine learning to both textual and citation information to detect technology areas with high growth in new patents and identifies new technologies based on the invention descriptions. For each U.S. public company, she then estimates the intensity of firm exposure to the last three years of new technologies. Excluding firms with zero exposure, she relates new technologies exposure to stock returns by each June reforming a portfolio that is long (short) stocks with the lowest (highest) 30% of new technologies exposures. Using information for all publicized U.S. patents and patent applications since 1976 (plus information for related pre-1976 granted U.S. patents and published international patents) and monthly returns for associated stocks and widely accepted stock factors during July 1981 through June 2019, she finds that: Keep Reading

Equity Factor Performance Before and After the End of 2000

Do the widely used U.S. stock return factors exhibit long-term trend changes and shorter-term cyclic behaviors? In his November 2022 paper entitled “Trends and Cycles of Style Factors in the 20th and 21st Centuries”, Andrew Ang applies various methods to compare trends and cycles for equity value, size, quality, momentum and low volatility factors, with focus on a breakpoint at the end of 2000. He measures size using market capitalization, value using book-to-market ratio, quality using operating profitability, momentum using return from 12 months ago to one month ago and low volatility using idiosyncratic volatility relative to the Fama-French 3-factor (market, size, book-to-market) model of stock returns. He each month for each factor sorts stocks into tenths, or deciles, and computes gross monthly factor return from a portfolio that is long (short) the average return of the two deciles with the highest (lowest) expected returns. As a benchmark, he uses the value-weighted market return in excess of the U.S. Treasury bill yield. Using market and factor return data from the Kenneth French data library during July 1963 through August 2022, he finds that:

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Last Traded Price and Firm Market Value

Is market capitalization, shares outstanding times share price, really the total value of a firm? In his brief November 2022 paper entitled “The Market Capitalization Illusion”, J.B. Heaton examines the relationship between market capitalization and market value considering the slope of the demand curve for tradable assets. Based on the body of relevant research, he concludes that: Keep Reading

Combining SMA10 and P/E10 Signals

In response to the U.S. stock market timing backtest in “Usefulness of P/E10 as Stock Market Return Predictor”, a subscriber suggested combining a 10-month simple moving average (SMA10) technical signal with a P/E10 (or Cyclically Adjusted Price-Earnings ratio, CAPE) fundamental signal. Specifically, we test:

  • SMA10 – bullish/in stocks (bearish/in cash) when prior-month stock index level is above (below) its SMA10.
  • SMA10 AND Binary 20-year – in stocks only when both SMA10 and P/E10 Binary 20-year signals are bullish, and otherwise in cash. The latter rule is bullish when last-month P/E10 is below its rolling 20-year monthly average.
  • SMA10 OR Binary 20-year – in stocks when one or both of the two signals are bullish, and otherwise in cash.
  • NEITHER SMA10 NOR Binary 20-year – in stocks only when neither signal is bullish, and otherwise in cash.

We use Robert Shiller’s S&P Composite Index to represent stocks. We consider buying and holding the S&P Composite Index and the standalone P/E10 Binary 20-year strategy as benchmarks. Using monthly data from Robert Shiller, including S&P Composite Index level, associated dividends, 10-year government bond yields and values of P/E10 as available during January 1871 through September 2022, we find that:

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Modified Test of P/E10 Usefulness

In response to the U.S. stock market timing backtest in “Usefulness of P/E10 as Stock Market Return Predictor”, a subscriber suggested a modification for exploiting P/E10 (or Cyclically Adjusted Price-Earnings ratio, CAPE). Instead of binary signals that buy (sell) stocks when P/E10 crosses below (above) its historical average, employ a scaled allocation to stocks that considers how far P/E10 is from average. Specifically:

  • If P/E10 is more than 2 standard deviations below its past average, allocate 100% to the S&P Composite Index.
  • If P/E10 is more than 2 standard deviations above its past average, allocate 0% to the S&P Composite Index.
  • If P/E10 is between these thresholds, allocate a percentage (ranging from 100% to 0%) to the S&P Composite Index, scaled linearly.

To investigate, we backtest this set of rules. Using monthly data from Robert Shiller, including S&P Composite Index level, associated dividends, 10-year government bond yields and values of P/E10 as available during January 1871 through September 2022, we find that:

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Usefulness of P/E10 as Stock Market Return Predictor

Does P/E10 (or Cyclically Adjusted Price-Earnings ratio, CAPE) usefully predict U.S. stock market returns? Per Robert Shiller’s data, P/E10 is inflation-adjusted S&P Composite Index level divided by average monthly inflation-adjusted 12-month trailing earnings of index companies over the last ten years. To investigate its usefulness, we consider in-sample regression/ranking tests and out-of-sample cumulative performance tests. Using monthly values of P/E10, S&P Composite Index levels (calculated as average of daily closes during the month), associated dividends (smoothed), 12-month trailing real earnings (smoothed) and interest rates as available during January 1871 through September 2022, we find that: Keep Reading

Stock Index Earnings-Returns Lead-lag

A subscriber asked about the lead-lag relationship between S&P 500 earnings and S&P 500 Index returns. To investigate, we relate actual aggregate S&P 500 operating and as-reported earnings to S&P 500 Index returns at both quarterly and annual frequencies. Earnings forecasts are available well in advance of returns. Actual earnings releases for a quarter occur throughout the next quarter. Using quarterly S&P 500 earnings and index levels during March 1988 through June 2022 and September 2022, respectively, we find that: Keep Reading

Do High-dividend Stock ETFs Beat the Market?

A subscriber asked about current evidence that high-dividend stocks outperform the market. To investigate, we compare performances of 10  exchange-traded funds (ETFs) holding high-dividend stocks to that of SPDR S&P 500 (SPY) as a proxy for the U.S. stock market. The  high-dividend stock ETFs, from oldest to newest, are:

For each of these ETFs, we compare average monthly total (dividend-reinvested) return, standard deviation of monthly returns, monthly return-risk ratio (average monthly return divided by standard deviation), compound annual growth rate (CAGR) and maximum drawdown (MaxDD) to those for SPY over matched sample periods. Using monthly total returns for the 10 high-dividend stock ETFs and SPY over available sample periods through September 2022, we find that:

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Stock Market Valuation Ratio Trends

To determine whether the stock market is expensive or cheap, some experts use aggregate valuation ratios, either trailing or forward-looking, such as earnings-price ratio (E/P) and dividend yield. Under belief that such ratios are mean-reverting, most imminently due to movement of stock prices, these experts expect high (low) future stock market returns when these ratios are high (low). Where are the ratios now and how are they changing during recent months? Using recent actual and forecasted earnings and dividend data from Standard & Poor’s and associated S&P 500 Index levels as available through September 9, 2022, we find that: Keep Reading

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