# Momentum Investing

Do financial market prices reliably exhibit momentum? If so, why, and how can traders best exploit it? These blog entries relate to momentum investing/trading.

**April 19, 2023** - Momentum Investing, Volatility Effects

Is timing of U.S. equity factors broadly and reliably attractive? In their March 2023 paper entitled “Timing the Factor Zoo”, Andreas Neuhierl, Otto Randl, Christoph Reschenhofer and Josef Zechner analyze effectiveness of 39 timing signals applied to 318 known factors. Factors include such categories as intangibles, investment, momentum, profitability, trading frictions and value/growth. Timing signals encompass momentum, volatility, valuation spread, characteristics spread, issuer-purchaser spread and reversal. Specifically, they:

- Forecast monthly returns for each factor and each signal (12,402 timed factors).
- Aggregate timing signals using partial least squares regression.
- Construct multi-factor portfolios that are each month long (short) the fifth, or quintile, of factors with the highest (lowest) predicted returns.
- Investigate composition of optimal factor timing portfolios, considering such properties such as turnover and style tilt.

Using monthly factor and signal data as available (different start dates) during 1926 through 2020, *they find that:* Keep Reading

**March 23, 2023** - Fundamental Valuation, Momentum Investing, Strategic Allocation, Technical Trading, Volatility Effects

A subscriber asked about boosting the performance of the Simple Asset Class ETF Value Strategy (SACEVS) and the Simple Asset Class ETF Momentum Strategy (SACEMS), and thereby the Combined Value-Momentum Strategy (SACEVS-SACEMS), by substituting ProShares Ultra S&P500 (SSO) for SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY) in these strategies whenever:

- SPY is above its 200-day simple moving average (SMA200); and,
- The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) SMA200 is below 18.

Substitution of SSO for SPY applies to portfolio holdings, but not SACEMS asset ranking calculations. To investigate, we test all versions of SACEVS, SACEMS and monthly rebalanced 50% SACEVS-50% SACEMS (50-50) combinations. We limit SPY SMA200 and VIX SMA200 conditions to month ends as signals for next-month actions (no intra-month changes). We consider baseline SACEVS and SACEMS (holding SPY as indicated) and versions of SACEVS and SACEMS that always hold SSO instead of SPY as benchmarks. We look at average gross monthly return, standard deviation of monthly returns, monthly gross reward/risk (average monthly return divided by standard deviation), gross compound annual growth rate (CAGR), maximum drawdown (MaxDD) and gross annual Sharpe ratio as key performance metrics. In Sharpe ratio calculations, we employ the average monthly yield on 3-month U.S. Treasury bills during a year as the risk-free rate for that year. Using daily unadjusted SPY and VIX values for SMA200 calculations since early September 2005 and monthly total returns for SSO since inception in June 2006 to modify SACEVS and SACEMS inputs, all through February 2023, *we find that:* Keep Reading

**February 24, 2023** - Fundamental Valuation, Momentum Investing, Mutual/Hedge Funds, Value Premium, Volatility Effects

Do factor investing (smart beta) mutual funds capture for investors the premiums found in academic factor research? In their November 2022 paper entitled “Factor Investing Funds: Replicability of Academic Factors and After-Cost Performance”, Martijn Cremers, Yuekun Liu and Timothy Riley analyze the performance of funds seeking to capture of published (long-side) factor premiums. They group factor investing funds into four styles: dividend, volatility, momentum and q-factor (profitability and investment). They separately measure how closely fund holdings adhere to the long sides of academic factor specifications. They measure fund outperformance (alpha) relative to the market factor via the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM) and via a multi-factor model (CPZ6) that accounts for the market factor and for granular size/value interactions. Using monthly returns for 233 hand-selected factor investing mutual funds and for the academic research factors during January 2006 (16 funds available) through September 2020 (207 funds available), *they find that:*

Keep Reading

**February 22, 2023** - Momentum Investing, Strategic Allocation

Can investors achieve attractive asset class momentum strategy performance by applying mixed-lookback interval momentum to different risk-on (offensive) and risk-off (defensive) sets of exchange-traded funds (ETF), and to a separate risk mode identification ETF? In their February 2023 paper entitled “Dual and Canary Momentum with Rising Yields/Inflation: Hybrid Asset Allocation (HAA)”, Wouter Keller and Jan Willem Keuning present a simplification of the prior Bold Asset Allocation strategy. This Hybrid Asset Allocation strategy consists of the following baseline asset universes and rules, with a single asset momentum metric (equal-weighted average return over the past 1, 3, 6 and 12 months):

- When TIP momentum is positive (negative), use the offensive (defensive) mode.
- When in offensive mode, hold the equal-weighted four of SPY, IWM, VWO, VEA, VNQ, DBC, IEF and TLT with the strongest momentum, except replace any of the top four with non-positive momentum by the one of BIL and IEF with the strongest momentum for crash protection.
- When in defensive mode, hold the one of BIL and IEF with the strongest momentum.

They reform the portfolio monthly, assuming constant 0.1% 1-way trading frictions. Using modeled monthly total returns prior to ETF inception and actual monthly total returns after inception for each specified ETF during December 1970 through December 2022, *they find that:* Keep Reading

**January 13, 2023** - Fundamental Valuation, Momentum Investing

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

**January 3, 2023** - Fundamental Valuation, Momentum Investing, Size Effect, Value Premium, Volatility Effects

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:*

Keep Reading

**December 29, 2022** - Momentum Investing

Do stocks that are winners or losers over multiple lookback intervals generate stronger future returns because they attract wider audiences of momentum investors? In their June 2022 paper entitled “Overlapping Momentum Portfolios”, Iván Blanco, Miguel De Jesus and Alvaro Remesal explore this question by comparing performances of three portfolios:

- MOM (benchmark): long (short) the value-weighted tenth, or decile, of stocks with the highest (lowest) returns from 12 months ago to one month ago.
- OMOM (overlapping): long (short) the value-weighted stocks in the MOM highest-return (lowest-return) decile that are also in the top (bottom) decile of stocks sorted by returns from six months ago to one month ago.
- Non-OMOM (non-overlapping): long (short) the value-weighted stocks in the MOM highest-return (lowest-return) decile that are not also in the top (bottom) decile of stocks sorted by return from six months ago to one month ago.

They test portfolio holding intervals ranging from one month to 24 months. They consider such portfolio performance metrics (often annualized) as average monthly return, Sharpe ratio and 1-factor (market), 3-factor (plus size and book-to-market) and 5-factor (plus profitability and investment) alphas. Using monthly returns for a broad sample of U.S. stocks priced over $5 during December 1926 through December 2018, *they find that:* Keep Reading

**December 21, 2022** - Momentum Investing, Strategic Allocation, Technical Trading

In response to a prior analysis (updated here), a subscriber asked whether adding a simple moving average (SMA) filter to “Simple Asset Class ETF Momentum Strategy” (SACEMS) assets, either before or after ranking them based on past returns, improves strategy performance. SACEMS each month picks winners from among the a set of eight asset class exchange-traded fund (ETF) proxies plus cash based on past returns over a specified interval. Since many technical traders use a 10-month SMA (SMA10), we test effectiveness of requiring that each asset pass an SMA10 filter as follows:

- Baseline – SACEMS as presented at “Momentum Strategy” (no SMA10 filter).
- Apply an SMA10 filter after asset ranking (SACEMS R-F) – Run Baseline SACEMS and then apply SMA10 filters to dividend-adjusted prices of winners. If a winner is above (below) its SMA10, hold the winner (Cash).
- Apply an SMA10 filter before asset ranking (SACEMS F-R) – If a SACEMS asset is above (below) its SMA10, apply SACEMS ranking rules to it (exclude it from ranking). If there are not enough ranked assets to populate multi-position SACEMS portfolios, put the positions in Cash.

We focus on compound annual growth rates (CAGR), annual Sharpe ratios and maximum drawdowns (MaxDD) of SACEMS Top 1, equally weighted (EW) Top 2 and EW Top 3 portfolios. To calculate Sharpe ratios, we use average monthly 3-month U.S. Treasury bill (T-bill) yield during a year as the risk-free rate for that year. Using monthly dividend-adjusted closing prices for the asset class proxies and the (T-bill) yield for Cash over the period February 2006 through November 2022, *we find that:* Keep Reading

**December 6, 2022** - Momentum Investing

Does use of price data other than the first and last within a lookback interval improve performance of a stock momentum strategy? In their November 2022 paper entitled “Momentum Without Crashes”, Soros Chitsiripanich, Marc Paolella, Pawel Polak and Patrick Walker construct a momentum strategy that ranks stocks based on a weighting scheme using prices throughout the lookback interval, in effect combining reversal and momentum patterns in returns. Specifically, they apply fractional differencing to stock price series differencing parameter d ranging from 0 to 1. When d is 1 (0), the result is a conventional momentum (reversal) strategy. A value of d between 0 and 1 combines momentum and reversal signals. Each week they sort stocks into fifths, or quintiles, by ascending expected returns based on a specific value of d and a lookback interval of 250 calendar days (one year). They then construct a value-weighted or an equal-weighted portfolio that is long (short) the quintile of stocks with the highest (lowest) expected returns. To avoid any day-of-the-week effects, they construct such portfolios each weekday and average returns across five weekly-reformed portfolios. They consider a sample of all U.S.-listed common stocks and a subsample that selects only stocks that comprise the top 90% of of market capitalization that week (excluding small stocks). For robustness, they consider smaller/shorter samples from six other countries. Using daily prices for the specified stock samples as available during January 1972 through December 2020, *they find that:* Keep Reading

**November 22, 2022** - Momentum Investing, Technical Trading

Does breadth of equity sector performance predict overall stock market return? To investigate, we relate next-month stock market return to sector breadth (number of sectors with positive past returns) over lookback intervals ranging from 1 to 12 months. We consider the following nine sector exchange-traded funds (ETF) offered as Standard & Poor’s Depository Receipts (SPDR):

Materials Select Sector SPDR (XLB)

Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE)

Financial Select Sector SPDR (XLF)

Industrial Select Sector SPDR (XLI)

Technology Select Sector SPDR (XLK)

Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR (XLP)

Utilities Select Sector SPDR (XLU)

Health Care Select Sector SPDR (XLV)

Consumer Discretionary Select SPDR (XLY)

We use SPDR S&P 500 (SPY) to represent the overall stock market and also relate next-month SPY return to the sign of past SPY return. Using monthly dividend-adjusted returns for SPY and the sector ETFs during December 1998 through October 2022, *we find that:* Keep Reading