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Investing Expertise

Can analysts, experts and gurus really give you an investing/trading edge? Should you track the advice of as many as possible? Are there ways to tell good ones from bad ones? Recent research indicates that the average “expert” has little to offer individual investors/traders. Finding exceptional advisers is no easier than identifying outperforming stocks. Indiscriminately seeking the output of as many experts as possible is a waste of time. Learning what makes a good expert accurate is worthwhile.

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Professional Economists Forecasting Stock Returns

Via the semiannual Livingston Survey, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia solicits forecasts for the S&P 500 index (and many other U.S. economic measures) from economists in industry, government, banking and academia. How good are their forecasts? In his June 2007 paper entitled “Predicting Stock Price Movements: Regressions versus Economists”, Paul Soderlind examines the aggregate stock return forecasting ability of surveyed experts. Using median forecasts for stock market gains during the interval 6-12 months after survey dates and associated actual data for 1952-2005, he concludes that: Keep Reading

Do Investors Fairly Value Stocks of the Most Admired Companies?

In their 2005 paper entitled “A Great Company Can Be a Great Investment”, Jeff Anderson and Gary Smith evaluate the stock returns of companies rated highest in Fortune magazine’s annual surveys of “America’s Most Admired Companies.” Survey respondents are senior executives, directors and securities analysts, and the questions asked seemingly relate indirectly or directly to the investment value of the companies named. Using lists for 1983 (survey inception) through 2004 (a total of 22 years) and associated stock return data for the publicly held companies on the lists, they conclude that: Keep Reading

Hiring and Firing Investment Managers

The sponsors of retirement/endowment plans (public and corporate pension plans, unions, foundations and endowments) retain professionals to manage their funds. Do their decisions to hire and fire such professionals pan out? In other words, do their plans outperform the market after they change managers? In their May 2006 paper entitled “The Selection and Termination of Investment Management Firms by Plan Sponsors”, Amit Goyal and Sunil Wahal examine this question. Using data for 8,204/910 hiring/firing decisions by 3,591 plan sponsors during 1994-2003, they conclude that: Keep Reading

Evaluating “Retail” Investment Managers

Readers recently requested evaluations of two different retail investment managers. Our reviews involve simply putting the information the firms make available on their web sites into the context of broad stock market research. Our findings for the two firms are similar, as follows: Keep Reading

How Well Do Experts Time Trades of Individual Stocks?

How well do experts perform in timing individual stock trades? In their May 2007 paper entitled “Individual Security Timing Ability and Fund Manager Performance”, David Gallagher, Andrew Ross and Peter Swan define individual security timing ability as the proportion of potential returns obtained by a trader over the holding period and measure this ability for a set of active Australian equity fund managers. Using a unique database of daily trades and monthly portfolio holdings for 30 fund managers from January 1996 through December 2001, they conclude that: Keep Reading

How Finance Professors Invest

How does “the group that is arguably best qualified, finance professors, …assess the importance of valuation techniques, asset-pricing models, market anomalies, firm characteristics, corporate events, seasonal variables, and other information” when they invest for themselves? In their April 2007 paper entitled “What Really Matters When Buying and Selling Stocks?”, James Doran and Colby Wright seek to answer this question via an email-initiated electronic survey of 4,525 finance professors at accredited U.S. universities and colleges. Using data provided by 642 qualified respondents, all with Ph.D.’s, they conclude that: Keep Reading

Why Gurus Go to Extremes

Are stock market forecasters prone to hyperbole? Is there logic to predicting plunges and melt-ups at probabilities unjustified by rigorous empirical analysis? In their February 2007 paper entitled “Probability Elicitation, Scoring Rules, and Competition among Forecasters”, Kenneth Lichtendahl, Jr. and Robert Winkler apply game theory to model the behavior of forecasters who pit themselves not only against the data, but also against each other. In other words, they examine the logical behavior of a forecaster whose reward depends not only on own accuracy but also on the accuracies of competing forecasters. When forecasters compete, they conclude that: Keep Reading

Hedge Fund Stock Picking and Trade Timing

Are hedge fund managers the best and brightest when it comes to stock picking and market timing? In their March 2007 paper entitled “How Smart are the Smart Guys? A Unique View from Hedge Fund Stock Holdings”, John Griffin and Jin Xu investigate whether hedge fund managers are better at picking stocks and investing styles than mutual fund managers. Using the stock holdings of 306 hedge fund companies from 1980 to 2004 as reported in quarterly SEC Form 13F equity filings, they conclude that: Keep Reading

The Quarterly Earnings Forecast Walk-Down

How do analyst earnings forecasts vary across financial reporting periods? Does the desire of analysts to maintain a good relationship with firm management affect earnings forecasts? In their February 2007 paper entitled “Relationship Incentives and the Optimistic/Pessimistic Pattern in Analysts’ Forecasts”, Robert Libby, James Hunton, Hun-Tong Tan and Nicholas Seybert report the results of controlled blind experiments involving experienced sell-side financial analysts that address these questions. Using information gained from “training sessions” for a group of 47 analysts from a single large investment banking/brokerage firm and 34 analysts from a medium-sized regional brokerage firm, they conclude that: Keep Reading

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