Objective research to aid investing decisions

Value Investing Strategy (Strategy Overview)

Allocations for November 2021 (Final)
Cash TLT LQD SPY

Momentum Investing Strategy (Strategy Overview)

Allocations for November 2021 (Final)
1st ETF 2nd ETF 3rd ETF

Strategic Allocation

Is there a best way to select and weight asset classes for long-term diversification benefits? These blog entries address this strategic allocation question.

SACEVS Input Risk Premiums and EFFR

The “Simple Asset Class ETF Value Strategy” (SACEVS) seeks diversification across a small set of asset class exchanged-traded funds (ETF), plus a monthly tactical edge from potential undervaluation of three risk premiums:

  1. Term – monthly difference between the 10-year Constant Maturity U.S. Treasury note (T-note) yield and the 3-month Constant Maturity U.S. Treasury bill (T-bill) yield.
  2. Credit – monthly difference between the Moody’s Seasoned Baa Corporate Bonds yield and the T-note yield.
  3. Equity – monthly difference between S&P 500 operating earnings yield and the T-note yield.

Premium valuations are relative to historical averages. How might this strategy react to changes in the Effective Federal Funds Rate (EFFR)? Using end-of-month values of the three risk premiums, EFFRtotal 12-month U.S. inflation and core 12-month U.S. inflation during March 1989 (limited by availability of operating earnings data) through August 2021, we find that: Keep Reading

SACEMS with Different Alternatives for “Cash”

Do alternative “Cash” (deemed risk-free) instruments materially affect performance of the “Simple Asset Class ETF Momentum Strategy” (SACEMS)? Changing the proxy for Cash can affect how often the model selects Cash, as well as the return on Cash when selected. To investigate, we test separately each of the following yield and exchange-traded funds (ETF) as the risk-free asset:

3-month Treasury bills (Cash), a proxy for the money market as in base SACEMS
SPDR Bloomberg Barclays 1-3 Month T-Bill (BIL)
iShares 1-3 Year Treasury Bond (SHY)
iShares 7-10 Year Treasury Bond (IEF)
iShares TIPS Bond (TIP)

We focus on compound annual growth rate (CAGR) and maximum drawdown (MaxDD) as key performance metrics and consider Top 1, equally weighted (EW) EW Top 2 and EW Top 3 SACEMS portfolios. Using end-of-month total (dividend-adjusted) returns for the specified assets during February 2006 (except May 2007 for BIL) through July 2021, we find that:

Keep Reading

Simplest Asset Class ETF Momentum Strategy Update

A subscriber asked about an update of “Simplest Asset Class ETF Momentum Strategy?”, which each month holds SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY) or iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond (TLT)  depending on which has the higher total return over the last three months, including a direct comparison to a portfolio that each month allocates 50% to Simple Asset Class ETF Value Strategy (SACEVS) Best Value and 50% to Simple Asset Class ETF Momentum Strategy (SACEMS) equal-weighted (EW) Top 2. We begin the test at the end of June 2006, limited by SACEMS inputs. We ignore monthly rebalancing frictions for both strategies. Using monthly dividend-adjusted prices for SPY and TLT starting March 2006 and monthly gross returns for 50-50 SACEVS Best Value and SACEMS EW Top 2 starting July 2006 (limited by SACEMS inputs), all through July 2021, we find that: Keep Reading

Testing a Term Premium Asset Allocation Strategy

A subscriber asked about the performance of a strategy that each month allocates funds to pairs of exchange-traded fund (ETF) asset class proxies according to the term spread, as measured by the difference in yields between the 10-Year constant maturity U.S. Treasury note and the 3-Month U.S. Treasury bill (T-bill). Specifically:

Also, how does the performance of this strategy (Term Spread Strategy) compare to that of a portfolio that each month allocates 50% to Simple Asset Class ETF Value Strategy (SACEVS) Best Value and 50% to Simple Asset Class ETF Momentum Strategy (SACEMS) equal-weighted (EW) Top 2. We begin the test at the end of June 2006, limited by SACEMS inputs. We ignore monthly rebalancing frictions for both strategies. Using monthly dividend-adjusted prices for the specified ETFs starting June 2006 and monthly gross returns for 50-50 SACEVS Best Value and SACEMS EW Top 2 starting July 2006, all through July 2021, we find that: Keep Reading

Are iShares Core Allocation ETFs Attractive?

The four iShares Core Asset Allocation exchange-traded funds (ETF) offer exposures to U.S. stocks, global stocks and bonds semiannually rebalanced to fixed weights, as follows.

  1. iShares Core Conservative Allocation (AOK) – 30% stocks and 70% bonds (30-70).
  2. iShares Core Moderate Allocation (AOM) – 40% stocks and 60%bonds (40-60).
  3. iShares Core Growth Allocation (AOR) – 60% stocks and 40% bonds (60-40).
  4. iShares Core Aggressive Allocation (AOA) – 80% stocks and 20% bonds (80-20).

Each fund holds a portfolio of seven iShares Core stocks and bonds ETFs, thereby compounding management costs and fees. Do these funds of funds offer attractive performance? To investigate, we compare performance statistics for these funds with those for comparably weighted and rebalanced combinations of SPDR S&P 500 Trust (SPY) and iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond (TLT), or SPY and iShares iBoxx $ Investment Grade Corporate Bond (LQD). We start tests at the end of December 2008 (about a month after inception of the asset allocation ETFs). We ignore semiannual rebalancing frictions for the SPY-TLT and SPY-LQD comparison strategies. Using semiannual dividend-adjusted prices for all specified funds during December 2008 through June 2021, we find that: Keep Reading

Performance of Statewide Pension Funds

When a public pension fund reports beating its benchmark, does that signify a job well done? In his July 2021 paper entitled “Cost, Performance, and Benchmark Bias of Public Pension Funds in the United States: An Unflattering Portrait”, Richard Ennis analyzes net returns of statewide pension funds in the U.S. He calculates both (1) net Sharpe ratio and (2) return versus a matched benchmark constructed via regression as the best-fit combination of the Russell 3000 stock index, the MSCI ACWI ex-U.S. stock index and the Bloomberg Barclays US Aggregate bond index. He compares performance relative to this benchmark and estimated costs for each fund. He then assesses performance of the funds versus the benchmarks they themselves construct and report against. Using self-reported data for a sample of 24 such funds self-reported via the Public Plans Data website during July 2010 through June 2020, he finds that: Keep Reading

Testing a SPY-EEMV-VT-TLT-PBBBX Allocation Strategy

In reaction to “Testing the EFA-SPY-TLT-PBBBX EW Strategy”, a subscriber asked about the performance of a strategy that each year rebalances to 25% SPDR S&P 500 (SPY), 10% iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Min Vol Factor (EEMV),  15% Vanguard Total World Stock Index Fund (VT), 25% iShares Barclays 20+ Year Treasury Bond (TLT) and 25% PIA BBB Bond Fund (PBBBX). Annual rebalancing avoids short-term capital gains for taxable accounts. We again compare performance of this alternative to that of a portfolio that each month allocates 50% to Simple Asset Class ETF Value Strategy (SACEVS) Best Value and 50% to Simple Asset Class ETF Momentum Strategy (SACEMS) equal-weighted (EW) Top 2. We begin the test at the end of 2011, limited by EEMV data and the annual rebalancing rule. We ignore rebalancing frictions for both strategies. Using monthly dividend-adjusted prices for SPY, EEMV, VT, TLT and PBBBX starting December 2011 and monthly gross returns for 50-50 SACEVS Best Value and SACEMS EW Top 2 starting January 2012, all through June 2021, we find that:

Keep Reading

Classic Stocks-Bonds Portfolios with Leveraged ETFs

Can investors use leveraged exchange-traded funds (ETF) to construct attractive versions of simple 60%/40% (60/40) and 40%/60% (40/60) stocks-bonds portfolios? In their March 2020 presentation package entitled “Robust Leveraged ETF Portfolios Extending Classic 40/60 Portfolios and Portfolio Insurance”, flagged by a subscriber, Mikhail Smirnov and Alexander Smirnov consider several variations of classic stocks/bonds portfolio as implemented with leveraged ETFs. They ultimately focus on a monthly rebalanced partially 3X-leveraged portfolio consisting of:

  • 40% ProShares UltraPro QQQ (TQQQ)
  • 20% Direxion Daily 20+ Year Treasury Bull 3X Shares (TMF)
  • 40% iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF (TLT)

To verify findings, we consider this portfolio and several 60/40 and 40/60 stocks/bonds portfolios. We look at net monthly performance statistics, along with compound annual growth rate (CAGR), maximum drawdown (MaxDD) based on monthly data and annual Sharpe ratio. To estimate monthly rebalancing frictions, we use 0.5% of amount traded each month. We use average monthly 3-month U.S. Treasury bill yield during a year as the risk-free rate in Sharpe ratio calculations for that year. Using monthly adjusted prices for TQQQ, TMF, TLT and for SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY) and Invesco QQQ Trust (QQQ) to construct benchmarks during February 2010 (limited by TQQQ inception) through June 2021, we find that: Keep Reading

Asset Class 12-month Reversion?

A subscriber, hypothesizing that asset classes with weak past returns should revert, requested testing of a strategy that each month holds the equal-weighted three of the Simple Asset Class ETF Momentum Strategy (SACEMS) universe with the lowest cumulative returns over the past 12 months (12-month EW Bottom 3). For comparison, we use the SACEMS EW Top 3 portfolio as specified. We begin the test at the end of February 2007, limited by SACEMS inputs with a 12-month lookback interval. We ignore monthly rebalancing frictions for both strategies. Using monthly dividend-adjusted prices of the nine SACEMS asset class proxies during February 2006 through June 2021, we find that: Keep Reading

Testing the EFA-SPY-TLT-PBBBX EW Strategy

A subscriber asked about the performance of a strategy that each month rebalances to 25% international equities, 25% U.S. equities, 25% U.S. Treasuries and 25% BBB bonds, and how this performance compares to that of a portfolio that each month allocates 50% to Simple Asset Class ETF Value Strategy (SACEVS) Best Value and 50% to Simple Asset Class ETF Momentum Strategy (SACEMS) equal-weighted (EW) Top 2. To investigate, we use:

We begin the test at the end of June 2006, limited by SACEMS inputs. We ignore monthly rebalancing frictions for both strategies. Using monthly dividend-adjusted prices for EFA, SPY, TLT and PBBBX starting June 2006 and monthly gross returns for 50-50 SACEVS Best Value and SACEMS EW Top 2 starting July 2006, all through June 2021, we find that: Keep Reading

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