Objective research to aid investing decisions

Value Investing Strategy (Strategy Overview)

Allocations for May 2024 (Final)
Cash TLT LQD SPY

Momentum Investing Strategy (Strategy Overview)

Allocations for May 2024 (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 and SACEMS Strategy Momentum?

A subscriber suggested that the Simple Asset Class ETF Value Strategy (SACEVS) and the Simple Asset Class ETF Momentum Strategy (SACEMS) may each exhibit return momentum at the strategy level, such that an investor holding both as in Combined Value-Momentum Strategy (SACEVS-SACEMS) may want to tilt each month toward the one with stronger recent returns. To investigate, we test a SACEVS Best Value-SACEMS Equal-Weighted (EW) Top 2 combination strategy that each month assigns 60% weight to the strategy with the higher return over a specified lookback interval and 40% to the one with the lower return (60-40). We consider lookback intervals of 1 to 12 months. We also look at a “full tilt” version for a selected lookback interval. We use standalone SACEVS Best Value, standalone SACEMS EW Top 2 and monthly rebalanced 50% SACEVS Best Value-50% SACEMS EW Top 2 (50-50) 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 SACEVS Best Value and SACEMS EW Top 2 gross monthly returns during July 2006 (limited by SACEMS) through January 2024, we find that:

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More International Equity Market Granularity for SACEMS?

A subscriber asked whether more granularity in international equity choices for the “Simple Asset Class ETF Momentum Strategy” (SACEMS), such as considered by Decision Moose, would improve performance. To investigate, we augment/replace international developed and emerging equity market exchange-traded funds (ETF) such that the universe of assets becomes:

  • SPDR S&P 500 (SPY)
  • iShares Russell 2000 Index (IWM)
  • iShares Europe (IEV)
  • iShares MSCI Japan (EWJ)
  • iShares MSCI Pacific ex Japan (EPP)
  • iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index (EEM)
  • iShares JPMorgan Emerging Markets Bond Fund (EMB)
  • iShares Latin America 40 (ILF)
  • iShares Barclays 20+ Year Treasury Bond (TLT)
  • Vanguard REIT ETF (VNQ)
  • SPDR Gold Shares (GLD)
  • Invesco DB Commodity Index Tracking (DBC)
  • 3-month Treasury bills (Cash)

We compare original (SACEMS Base) and modified (SACEMS Granular), each month picking winners from their respective sets of ETFs based on total returns over a fixed lookback interval. We focus on gross compound annual growth rate (CAGR), gross maximum drawdown (MaxDD) and gross annual Sharpe ratio (average annual excess return divided by standard deviation of annual excess returns, using average monthly T-bill yield during a year to calculate excess returns) as key performance statistics for the Top 1, equally weighted (EW) Top 2 and EW Top 3 portfolios of monthly winners. Using monthly total (dividend-adjusted) returns for the specified assets during February 2006 through December 2023, we find that: Keep Reading

Testing the All Weather Portfolio

A subscriber requested a test of Ray Dalio‘s All Weather (AW) portfolio with different rebalancing frequencies, allocated to exchange-traded funds (ETF) as asset class proxies as follows:

30% – Vanguard Total Stock Market (VTI)
40% – iShares 20+ Year Treasury (TLT)
15% – iShares 7-10 Year Treasury (IEF)
7.5% – SPDR Gold Shares (GLD)
7.5% – Invesco DB Commodity Tracking (DBC)

To investigate, we test:

We consider the following gross performance metrics, all based on monthly measurements: average monthly return, standard deviation of monthly returns, compound annual growth rate (CAGR), maximum drawdown (MaxDD) and Sharpe ratio (with the 3-month Treasury bill yield as the risk-free rate). We also compare number of rebalance actions for each portfolio. Using monthly dividend-adjusted returns for the specified assets during February 2006 (limited by DBC) through December 2023, we find that: Keep Reading

Optimal SACEMS Lookback Interval Update

How sensitive is performance of the “Simple Asset Class ETF Momentum Strategy” (SACEMS) to choice of momentum calculation lookback interval, and what interval works best? To investigate, we generate gross compound annual growth rates (CAGR) and maximum drawdowns (MaxDD) for SACEMS Top 1, equally weighted (EW) EW Top 2 and EW Top 3 portfolios over lookback intervals ranging from one to 12 months. All calculations start at the end of February 2007 based on inception of the commodities exchange-traded fund and the longest lookback interval. Using end-of-month total (dividend-adjusted) returns for the SACEMS asset universe during February 2006 through November 2023, we find that: Keep Reading

A Few Notes on The Missing Billionaires

In their 2023 book, The Missing Billionaires: A Guide to Better Financial Decisions, authors Victor Haghani and James White seek “to give you a practical framework, consistent with the consensus of university finance textbooks, for making good financial decisions that are right for you. Good decisions will take account of your personal circumstances, financial preferences, and your considered views on the risks and expected returns of available investments. …You will likely get the most out of this book if you have already accumulated a decent amount of financial capital or if you are young with a healthy measure of human capital. …The book is written from the perspective of a US individual or family…” Based on their many years of wealth management experience and portfolio systems development, they conclude that:

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Review of the Quantified Market Psychology Strategy

At the suggestion of one of his subscribers, Willi Bambach requested independent review of his 1g QMP [Quantified Market Psychology] strategy, tracked since December 2007 on TimerTrac. To facilitate a review, he provided a brief description of the strategy and a medallion (https://timertrac.com/private/medallion.asp?mlid={CDD4AEE6-2A1D-4917-A571-DF23C884D1D3}) to enable public access to the strategy on TimerTrac (very slow to load and may no longer work). The strategy has asset universe, asset allocation and position leverage components as follows:

  • Asset universe:
    1. Cash in a money market fund (with assumed 2% fixed yield).
    2. SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY)
    3. iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF (TLT).
  • Allocations as signaled mostly per the following three steps:
    1. Examine differences between FactSet consensus analyst earnings forecasts and actual earnings for S&P 500 stocks.
    2. Relate these differences to earnings release price reactions of respective stocks.
    3. Translate this relationship into a sentiment signal that specifies allocations for Cash, SPY and TLT.
  • Leverage (with assumed 0.5% fixed financing cost) for SPY and TLT positions added in 0.5 increments as long as three conditions hold for inception-to-date data (as the sample grew, this approach evolved to constant 2X leverage over the last five years):
    1. Standard deviation of 1g QMP returns is lower than than that for the S&P 500 Index.
    2. Downside standard deviation of 1g QMP returns is lower than that for the S&P 500 Index.
    3. 1g QMP Ulcer Index is lower than that for the S&P 500 Index.

Data available via this medallion include a list of 1g QMP allocation changes by date (see the table at the end). For testing 1g QMP, we do not attempt to replicate allocations. Instead, we apply a set of tractable assumptions to them and test versions of 1g QMP with 1X (no leverage) and 2X leverage. We use SPDR Bloomberg 1-3 Month T-Bill ETF (BIL) for cash to approximate money market yields and avoid estimating settlement delays. We supply 2X leverage by substituting ProShares Ultra S&P500 (SSO) for SPY and ProShares Ultra 20+ Year Treasury (UBT) for TLT. We focus on net average daily return, standard deviation of daily returns, daily return/risk (average divided by standard deviation), compound annual growth rate (CAGR), maximum drawdown and annual Sharpe ratio. We use average end-of-month 3-month U.S. Treasury bill (T-bill) yield during a year as the risk-free rate for that year in Sharpe ratio calculations. We do not include partial years in Sharpe ratio calculations. Using the list of strategy allocation changes and daily dividend-adjusted prices of BIL, SPY, TLT, SSO and UBT during 1/25/2008 through 11/30/2023, we find that:

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QQQ vs. Simplest Asset Class ETF Momentum Strategy?

“Simplest Asset Class ETF Momentum Strategy Update” updates performance of a strategy that 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. A subscriber asked for additional comparison to a strategy that buys and holds Invesco QQQ Trust (QQQ). As before, we begin the test at the end of June 2006, limited by SACEMS inputs. We ignore monthly switching frictions, to the disadvantage of QQQ. 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 and dividend-adjusted prices for QQQ starting July 2006, all through October 2023 (17.3 years), we find that:

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Volatility-adjusted Retirement Income Streams

Should investors consider portfolio volatility when choosing allocations to stocks and bonds in their retirement accounts? In his October 2023 paper entitled “Retirement Planning: The Volatility-Adjusted Coverage Ratio”, Javier Estrada introduces volatility-adjusted coverage ratio (VAC) as an alternative retirement portfolio metric. He defines this metric as coverage ratio (C, number of years of withdrawals supported relative to retirement period length) divided by annual portfolio volatility during retirement. He compares optimal stocks-bonds allocations for different fixed real annual withdrawal rates across 22 country markets and the world market using either C of VAC. For all markets and withdrawal rates, he uses historical returns for stocks and bonds with annual portfolio rebalancing and 30-year retirement periods. Using annual returns for stocks and bonds and annual inflation rates in the U.S. during 1872 through 2022 (Shiller data) and in 21 other countries during 1900 through 2019 (Dimson-Marsh-Staunton data), he finds that: Keep Reading

SACEVS-SACEMS Leverage Sensitivity Tests

“SACEMS with Margin” investigates the use of target 2X leverage via margin to boost the performance of the “Simple Asset Class ETF Momentum Strategy” (SACEMS). “SACEVS with Margin” investigates the use of target 2X leverage via margin to boost the performance of the “Simple Asset Class ETF Value Strategy” (SACEVS). In response, a subscriber requested a sensitivity test of 1.25X, 1.50X and 1.75X leverage targets. To investigate effects of these leverage targets, we separately augment SACEVS Best Value, SACEMS EW Top 2 and the equally weighted combination of these two strategies by: (1) initially applying target leverage via margin; (2) for each month with a positive portfolio return, adding margin at the end of the month to restore target leverage; and, (3) for each month with a negative portfolio return, liquidating shares at the end of the month to pay down margin and restore target leverage. Margin rebalancings are concurrent with portfolio reformations. We focus on gross monthly Sharpe ratiocompound annual growth rate (CAGR) and maximum drawdown (MaxDD) for committed capital as key performance statistics. We use the 3-month Treasury bill (T-bill) yield as the risk-free rate. Using monthly total (dividend-adjusted) returns for the specified assets since July 2002 for SACEVS and since July 2006 for SACEMS, both through October 2023, we find that:

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SACEVS with Margin

Is leveraging with margin a good way to boost the performance of the “Simple Asset Class ETF Value Strategy” (SACEVS)? To investigate effects of margin, we augment SACEVS by: (1) initially applying 2X leverage via margin (limited by Federal Reserve Regulation T); (2) for each month with a positive portfolio return, adding margin at the end of the month to restore 2X leverage; and, (3) for each month with a negative portfolio return, liquidating shares at the end of the month to pay down margin and restore 2X leverage. Margin rebalancings are concurrent with portfolio reformations. We focus on gross monthly Sharpe ratiocompound annual growth rate (CAGR) and maximum drawdown (MaxDD) for committed capital as key performance statistics for Best Value (which picks the most undervalued premium) and Weighted (which weights all undervalued premiums according to degree of undervaluation) variations of SACEVS. We use the 3-month Treasury bill (T-bill) yield as the risk-free rate and consider a range of margin interest rates as increments to this yield. Using monthly total returns for SACEVS and monthly T-bill yields during July 2002 through October 2023, we find that:

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