Objective research to aid investing decisions

Value Investing Strategy (Strategy Overview)

Allocations for July 2022 (Final)
Cash TLT LQD SPY

Momentum Investing Strategy (Strategy Overview)

Allocations for July 2022 (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.

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:

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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

SACEMS Optimal Lookback Interval Stability

A subscriber asked about the stability of the momentum measurement (lookback) interval used for strategies like the Simple Asset Class ETF Momentum Strategy (SACEMS). To investigate, we run two tests on each of top one (Top 1),  equal-weighted top two (EW Top 2) and equal-weighted top three (EW Top 3) versions of SACEMS:

  1. Identify the SACEMS lookback interval with the highest gross compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for a sample starting February 2006 when Invesco DB Commodity Index Tracking Fund (DBC) becomes available and ending each of May 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021. We consider lookback intervals of one to 12 months, meaning that earliest allocations are for February 2007 to accommodate the longest interval. The shortest sample period is therefore 5.3 years. This test takes the perspective of an investor who devises SACEMS in May 2012 and each year adds 12 months of data and checks whether the optimal lookback interval has changed.
  2. Identify the SACEMS lookback interval with the highest gross CAGR for a sample ending May 2021 and starting each of February 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. The shortest sample period is again 5.3 years. This test takes perspectives of different investors who devise SACEMS at the end of February in different years.

Using monthly SACEMS inputs and the SACEMS model as currently specified for February 2006 through May 2021, we find that: Keep Reading

Fixing Institutional Investing?

Why have U.S. public pension, endowment and other non-profit funds (institutional investors) consistently underperformed simple, investible passive benchmarks since 2008? How should they remedy that underperformance? In his April 2021 paper entitled “How to Improve Institutional Fund Performance”, Richard Ennis summarizes prior papers quantifying post-2008 institutional investor returns and recommends how institutions can improve this performance. Extending performance estimates from prior analyses through June 2020, he finds that: Keep Reading

Assessment of the Dragon Portfolio

A subscriber provided promotional materials for, and requested assessment of, the Artemis Capital Management Dragon portfolio. General allocations for this portfolio are:

  • 24% to secular growth such as U.S. and international stocks.
  • 21% to “long volatility and convex hedging” such as the Artemis Vega Fund and tail risk hedges (probably options and/or futures).
  • 19% to commodity trend following.
  • 18% to interest rate-sensitive assets such as U.S. Treasury bonds, Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) and investment grade bonds.
  • 18% to inflation protection such as gold and potentially crypto-assets.

Apparently, the fund has not yet launched and all performance data are backtested (hypothetical). Lacking detail to replicate the Dragon portfolio, we look at its hypothetical monthly returns per promotional materials. We use a 60% SPDR S&P 500 Trust (SPY) – 40% iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond (TLT) portfolio, rebalanced monthly, as a simple hybrid benchmark. For reference, we also compare results for SPY, the Simple Asset Class ETF Value Strategy (SACEVS) Best Value portfolio and the Simple Asset Class ETF Momentum Strategy (SACEMS) equal-weighted (EW) Top 2 portfolio. Using gross monthly total returns for the Dragon portfolio, SPY, TLT, SACEVS Best Value and SACEMS EW Top 2 during January 2012 through April 2021, we find that: Keep Reading

SACEMS with Overnight Return Capture

In view of research indicating that overnight (close-to-open) returns are on average significantly higher than open-to-close returns, a subscriber proposed an enhancement to the Simple Asset Class ETF Momentum Strategy (SACEMS), as follows:

  • Instead of ranking SACEMS assets at the market close on the last trading day of each month, rank them at the open.
  • Sell any assets leaving SACEMS portfolios at the open.
  • Buy any assets entering SACEMS portfolios at the close.

Due to complexity of precisely programming a backtest of this setup, we instead run the following tests:

  1. Compare average daily open-to-close and close-to-open returns for each SACEMS non-cash asset over available sample periods since July 2002.
  2. Compare SACEMS portfolio performances during July 2006 through May 2021 for: (a) ranking assets at the open on the last trading day of each month and executing all trades at the open; and, (b) ranking assets at the close on the last trading day of each month and executing all trades at the close (baseline SACEMS).
  3. Calculate SACEMS portfolio performances during July 2006 through May 2021 for a variation that ranks assets at the open on the last trading day of each month, liquidates SACEMS portfolios at the open and reforms them at the close. This variation is more aggressive in exploiting an overnight return effect than the proposed approach, but is easier to program.

We consider Top 1, equal-weighted (EW) Top 2 and EW Top 3 SACEMS portfolios. We focus on full-sample gross compound annual growth rate, gross annual Sharpe ratio and maximum drawdown based on monthly data for portfolio comparisons. Using dividend-adjusted opening and closing prices for all SACEMS assets during July 2002 through May 2021, we find that: Keep Reading

Review of the Golden Butterfly Portfolio

A subscriber requested review of the Golden Butterfly (GB) portfolio, which assigns equal weights to the total stock market, small-capitalization value stocks, long-term government bonds, short-term government bonds and gold. To investigate, we use the following exchange-traded funds (ETF) as asset class proxies, respectively:

  • Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund (VTI)
  • iShares S&P Small-Cap 600 Value Fund (IJS)
  • iShares Barclays 20+ Year Treasury Bond (TLT)
  • iShares 1-3 Year Treasury Bond (SHY)
  • SPDR Gold Shares (GLD)

We consider either monthly or annual rebalancings to equal weight, ignoring associated trading frictions. Using monthly dividend-adjusted prices for the five ETFs during November 2004 (limited by GLD) through May 2021, we find that: Keep Reading

Home Prices and the Stock Market

Homes typically represent a substantial fraction of investor wealth. Are there reliable relationships between U.S. home prices and the U.S. stock market? For example, does a rising stock market stimulate home prices? Do falling home prices point to offsetting liquidation of equity positions. Do homes effectively diversify equity holdings? Measurements are:

Using these sources, we find that:

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SACEMS Applied to Mutual Funds

A subscriber inquired whether a longer test of the “Simple Asset Class ETF Momentum Strategy” (SACEMS) is feasible using mutual funds rather than exchange-traded funds (ETF) as asset class proxies. To investigate, we consider the following set of mutual funds (partly adapted from the paper summarized in “Asset Allocation Combining Momentum, Volatility, Correlation and Crash Protection”):

  1. Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Investor Shares (VTSMX)
  2. Vanguard Small Capitalization Index Investor Shares  (NAESX)
  3. Fidelity Diversified International (FDIVX)
  4. Vanguard Long-Term Treasury Investor Shares (VUSTX)
  5. Fidelity New Markets Income Fund (FNMIX)
  6. Vanguard REIT Index Investor Shares (VGSIX)
  7. First Eagle Gold A (SGGDX)
  8. Oppenheimer Commodity Strategy Total Return A (QRAAX) until in October 2011, and BlackRock Commodity Strategies Portfolio Institutional Shares (BICSX) thereafter
  9. 3-month U.S. Treasury bills (Cash)

We rank mutual funds based on total (dividend-adjusted) returns over past (lookback) intervals of one to 12 months. We consider portfolios of past mutual fund winners based on Top 1 and on equally weighted (EW) Top 2 through Top 5. We consider as benchmarks: an equally weighted portfolio of all mutual funds, rebalanced monthly (EW All); buying and holding VTSMX; and, holding VTSMX when the S&P 500 Index is above its 10-month simple moving average (SMA10) and Cash when the index is below its SMA10 (VTSMX:SMA10). Using monthly dividend-adjusted closing prices for the above mutual funds and the yield for Cash during March 1997 through April 2021, we find that: Keep Reading

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