# 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.

**October 19, 2020** - Momentum Investing

Subscribers have asked whether substituting Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX) for SPDR Gold Shares (GLD) as a proxy for gold improves the performance of the Simple Asset Class ETF Momentum Strategy (SACEMS)? To check, we backtest the strategy twice using either GLD or GDX to represent gold, and then compare results. Using dividend-adjusted closing prices for SACEMS asset class proxies and the yield for Cash during June 2006 (per tracked SACEMS) through September 2020, *we find that:* Keep Reading

**September 28, 2020** - Momentum Investing, Size Effect, Value Premium

The conventional size (market capitalization) premium is notoriously weak since discovery almost 40 years ago. Does this poor live track record mean it is useless to investors? In their September 2020 paper entitled “Settling the Size Matter”, David Blitz and Matthias Hanauer examine whether the size premium is exploitable as a standalone anomaly or in combination with other anomalies. They consider six versions of a size factor from prior research, as follows:

- Adjusted for value – average of three small-cap stock portfolios minus average of three big-cap stock portfolios after sorting for book-to-market ratio.
- Adjusted for value, investment and profitability – average of nine small-cap stock portfolios minus average of nine big-cap stock portfolios after separately sorting on the other three factors.
- Adjusted for profitability – average of three small-cap stock portfolios minus average of three big-cap stock portfolios after sorting for profitability.
- Adjusted for quality – average of three small-cap stock portfolios minus average of three big-cap stock portfolios after sorting for quality.
- Adjusted for quality beta – average of three small-cap stock portfolios minus average of three big-cap stock portfolios after sorting for quality beta.
- Adjusted for size, investment and return on equity – average of nine small-cap stock portfolios minus average of nine big-cap stock portfolios after separately sorting on the other three factors.

All factor portfolio segments are capitalization-weighted, and all returns are in U.S. dollars. They consider regressions (implying long-short implementations) and long-only sides of these factors. They also consider size factor definitions that do not overweight size inputs, as do those above. Using data required by these definitions for U.S. stocks since July 1963 (or January 1967 for some inputs) and for international stocks since July 1990 (or July 1993 for some inputs), all through December 2019, *they find that:* Keep Reading

**June 29, 2020** - Equity Premium, Momentum Investing, Size Effect, Value Premium

Are widely accepted equity factor exposures available in fact to investors via “smart beta” mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETF)? In their May 2020 paper entitled “Smart Beta Made Smart”, Andreas Johansson, Riccardo Sabbatucci and Andrea Tamoni test effectiveness of individual U.S. equity mutual funds and ETFs and combinations of these funds for exploiting several major equity risk factors (value, size, profitability and momentum). After assembling a sample of funds with names that indicate smart beta strategies, they iteratively (annually for size, value and profitability and daily for momentum):

- Apply a double-regression to each fund to identify those that are actually “closet” market index funds.
- Refine factor exposures of each true smart beta fund based on actual fund holdings.
- Construct separately for institutional and retail investors tradable long-side (mutual funds and ETFs) and short-side (ETFs only) risk factors via value-weighted combinations of the 10 funds with the strongest exposures to each factor.

Using daily, monthly, and quarterly data for U.S. equity mutual funds and ETFs with (1) names indicating smart beta strategies, (2) at least one year of returns and (3)assets over $1 billion, data for their individual component U.S. stocks and specified factor returns during January 2003 through May 2019, *they find that:* Keep Reading

**June 26, 2020** - Momentum Investing, Technical Trading

Is there a way to mitigate adverse impact of price trajectory turning points (trend changes) on performance of intrinsic (absolute or time series) momentum strategies? In their May 2020 paper entitled “Breaking Bad Trends”, Ashish Garg, Christian Goulding, Campbell Harvey and Michele Mazzoleni measure impact of turning points on time series momentum strategy performance across asset classes. They define a turning point as a month for which slow (12-month or longer lookback) and fast (3-month or shorter lookback) momentum signals disagree on whether to buy or sell. They test a dynamic strategy to mitigate trend change impact based on turning points defined by disagreement between 12-month (slow) and 2-month (fast) momentum signals. Specifically, their dynamic strategy each month:

- For each asset, measures slow and fast momentum as averages of monthly excess returns over respective lookback intervals.
- Specifies the trend condition for each asset as: (1) Bull (slow and fast signals both non-negative); (2) Correction (slow non-negative and fast negative); Bear (slow and fast both negative); and, Rebound (slow negative and fast non-negative). For Bull and Bear (Correction and Rebound) conditions, next-month return is the same (opposite in sign) for slow and fast signals.
- After trend changes (Corrections and Rebounds separately), empirically determines with at least 48 months of historical data optimal weights for combinations of positions based on slow and fast signals.

They compare performance of this dynamic strategy with several conventional (static) time series momentum strategies, with each competing strategy retrospectively normalized to 10% test-period volatility. They test strategies on 55 futures, forwards and swaps series spanning four asset classes, with returns based on holding the nearest contract and rolling to the next at expiration. Using monthly returns for futures, forwards and swaps for 12 equity indexes, 10 bond indexes, 24 commodities and 9 currency pairs as available during January 1971 through December 2019, *they find that:*

Keep Reading

**June 17, 2020** - Momentum Investing

Does the U.S. stock market exhibit reliable and exploitable trends as measured by intrinsic (absolute or time series) momentum? In their April 2020 paper entitled “Time Series Momentum in the US Stock Market: Empirical Evidence and Theoretical Implications”, Valeriy Zakamulin and Javier Giner examine evidence of time series momentum in the excess returns (relative to the risk-free rate) of the S&P Composite Index. Their approach involves autocorrelations of multi-month (not monthly) excess returns. They then use simulations modeled with actual index return statistics to; (1) assess potential profitability of long-only and long-short time series momentum strategies; and, (2) estimate the optimal lookback interval. Using monthly total returns for the S&P Composite Index and the monthly risk-free rate represented by the U.S. Treasury bill (T-bill) yield during January 1857 through December 2018, *they find that:* Keep Reading

**May 29, 2020** - Momentum Investing, Strategic Allocation

A subscriber asked for an update on whether weekly or biweekly (every two weeks) measurement of asset class momentum works better than monthly measurement as used in “Simple Asset Class ETF Momentum Strategy (SACEMS)” (SACEMS). Do higher measurement frequencies respond more efficiently to market turns? To investigate, we compare performances of strategies based on monthly, weekly and biweekly frequencies with comparable lookback intervals. For this comparison, we align weekly and biweekly results with monthly results, though they differ somewhat due to mismatches between ends of weeks and ends of months. We consider portfolios of past ETF winners based on Top 1 and on equally weighted (EW) Top 2 and Top 3. Using weekly dividend-adjusted closing prices for the asset class proxies per baseline SACEMS and the yield for Cash during February 2006 through April 2020, *we find that:* Keep Reading

**May 18, 2020** - Momentum Investing, Size Effect, Value Premium, Volatility Effects

Are there equity styles that tend to perform relatively well during and after stock market crashes? In their April 2020 paper entitled “Equity Styles and the Spanish Flu”, Guido Baltussen and Pim van Vliet examine equity style returns around the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918-1919 and five earlier deep U.S. stock market corrections (-20% to -25%) in 1907, 1903, 1893, 1884 and 1873. They construct three factors by:

- Separating stocks into halves based on market capitalization.
- Sorting the big half only into thirds based on dividend yield as a value proxy, 36-month past volatility or return from 12 months ago to one month ago. They focus on big stocks to avoid illiquidity concerns for the small half.
- Forming long-only, capitalization-weighted factor portfolios that hold the third of big stocks with the highest dividends (HighDiv), lowest past volatilities (Lowvol) or highest past returns (Mom).

They also test a multi-style strategy combining Lowvol, Mom and HighDiv criteria (Lowvol+) and a size factor calculated as capitalization-weighted returns for the small group (Small). Using data for all listed U.S. stocks during the selected crashes, *they find that:* Keep Reading

**April 3, 2020** - Momentum Investing, Value Premium

Do stock anomaly (factor premium) portfolios exhibit exploitable value and momentum? In their February 2020 paper entitled “Value and Momentum in Anomalies”, Deniz Anginer, Sugata Ray, Nejat Seyhun and Luqi Xu investigate exploitability of time variation in the predictive ability of 13 published U.S. stock accounting and price-based anomalies based on: (1) anomaly momentum (1-month premiums); and/or (2) anomaly value (adjusted average book-to-market ratios). Specifically, they each month:

- For each anomaly, form a value-weighted portfolio that is long (short) the tenth, or decile, of stocks with the highest (lowest) expected returns.
- For each long-short anomaly portfolio:
- Measure its value as last-year average book-to-market ratio minus its average of average book-to-market ratios over the previous five years.
- Measure its momentum as last-month return.

- Form a value portfolio of anomaly portfolios that holds the equal-weighted top seven based on value, rebalanced annually.
- Form a momentum portfolio of anomaly portfolios that holds the equal-weighted top seven based on momentum, rebalanced monthly.
- Form a combined value-momentum portfolio of anomaly portfolios that holds those in the top seven of both value and momentum, equal-weighted and rebalanced monthly.

Their benchmark is the equal-weighted, monthly rebalanced portfolio of all anomaly portfolios (1/N). Using data required to construct anomaly portfolios and monthly delisting-adjusted returns for U.S. common stocks excluding financial stocks and stocks priced under $1 during January 1975 through December 2014, *they find that:* Keep Reading

**March 27, 2020** - Calendar Effects, Momentum Investing

Are some calendar months more likely to exhibit stock market continuation or reversal than others, perhaps due to seasonal or fund reporting effects? In other words, is intrinsic (times series or absolute) momentum an artifact of some months or all months? To investigate, we relate U.S. stock index returns for each calendar month to those for the preceding 3, 6 and 12 months. Using monthly closes of the S&P 500 Index since December 1927 and the Russell 2000 Index since September 1987, both through January 2020, *we find that:* Keep Reading

**March 26, 2020** - Momentum Investing, Strategic Allocation, Technical Trading

A subscriber asked whether applying a simple moving average (SMA) filter to “Simple Asset Class ETF Momentum Strategy” (SACEMS) winners improves strategy performance. SACEMS each months 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 winner pass an SMA10 filter by comparing performances for three scenarios:

- Baseline – SACEMS as presented at “Momentum Strategy”.
- With SMA10 Filter – 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). This rule is inapplicable to Cash as a winner.
- With Half SMA10 Filter – Same as scenario 2, but, if a winner is above (below) its SMA10, hold the winner (half the winner and half 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 February 2020, *we find that:* Keep Reading