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Luxury Goods Stock Premium

February 9, 2022 • Posted in Fundamental Valuation

Do stocks of firms focused on luxury goods outperform those of more prosaic companies? In his June 2019 paper entitled “Demand-Driven Risk and the Cross-Section of Expected Returns”, Alejandro Lopez-Lira examines aggregate performance of firms selling goods with high income elasticity (luxury goods), assuming that such firms are particularly exposed to demand-driven risk (consumption shocks). Hypothesizing that advertising, customer support and new feature development costs are relatively high for such firms, he proposes three accounting-based measures of demand-driven risk exposure:

  1. Indirect cost ratio (selling, general and administrative expenses, divided by cost of goods sold plus selling, general and administrative expenses).
  2. Indirect costs-to-net sales ratio.
  3. One minus the direct costs-to-net sales ratio.

He excludes financial, utilities, mining, petroleum refining and pharmaceuticals firms from analysis due to their insulation from consumer demand. Each June, he ranks remaining firms into fifths (quintiles) based on their indirect cost ratios, with the highest quintile most exposed to demand-driven risk. He then tracks monthly returns of the value-weighted quintiles over the next year. He further investigates interactions of demand-driven risk with competitive pressure, measuring the latter via textual analysis of Form 10-K submittals to gauge competitor product similarities/sales. Using annual accounting data, monthly stock prices and annual Form 10-Ks for the specified firms and contemporaneous monthly factor model returns as available during January 1962 through December 2016, he finds that:

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