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Book-to-Market Ratio Failing But Still Loved

June 9, 2021 • Posted in Value Premium

Is firm book value-to-market price ratio (B/M) obsolete due to growing importance of intangible assets? Is it still widely used by institutional investors? In their May 2021 paper entitled “Going by the Book: Valuation Ratios and Stock Returns”, Ki-Soon Choi, Eric So and Charles Wang examine continuing of B/M for value investing and implications of such use for stock returns and trading. They compare its effectiveness to: sales-to-price; gross profit-to-price; net shareholder payout-to-price; and, a composite of these three alternatives (COMP). They focus on firms with significant deviations between B/M and the other ratios to assess how investors price and trade stocks with conflicting value signals. Specifically, they each year at the end of June:

  • Calculate each ratio for each firm.
  • Rank firms into fifths (quintiles) based on each ratio.
  • Calculate the absolute difference in quintile between B/M ranking and ranking based on other ratios (RatioSpread).

High values of RatioSpread indicate firms for which B/M disagrees with other ratios regarding whether associated stocks are value or glamor (growth). Using firm fundamentals and stock trading data for a broad sample of U.S. stocks with share price over $5 during 1980 through 2017, they find that: (more…)

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