Low Beta/Vol Outperformance

December 5, 2012 Architect Academic Insights
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There are many blogs/funds/research promoting low beta stocks as a way to get rich:

In general, I’m still in the R&D stage of trying to determine if the low beta strategy (at least in the context of stock selection) is really that different than a “value” factor wrapped in some fancy new clothes. I realize everyone runs their Fama French regression to hold constant HML loadings, but I’m just skeptical…

 

Hong and Sraer have a pretty cool paper explaining why low-beta might exist as a stand alone anomaly. The basic idea is that stocks with betas above a certain cut-off point and where investors expect a wide dispersion of possible outcomes, end up being overvalued. Why?  Because in these high disagreement settings, investors who are extremely pessimistic about the stock will be unable to influence prices because of costly short-selling. Thus, on average, these higher beta, high disagreement stocks end up being overvalued.

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[Not all high beta is bad; just high beta and high disagreement!] The results are hypothetical results and are NOT an indicator of future results and do NOT represent returns that any investor actually attained. Indexes are unmanaged, do not reflect management or trading fees, and one cannot invest directly in an index. Additional information regarding the construction of these results is available upon request.

Anyway, still digesting this paper, but thought it would be good to share.




About the Author

Wesley R. Gray, Ph.D.

Dr. Gray has been an active participant in financial markets for over 15 years. His experience includes positions as a Captain in the United States Marine Corps, as a finance professor at Drexel University, and as a portfolio manager for a special-situations hedge fund. Education and entrepreneurship has been the focus of his professional endeavors and his research interests are focused on the performance of portfolio managers and behavioral finance. Dr. Gray is currently the Executive Managing Member of Alpha Architect, an SEC-Registered Investment Advisor. Dr. Gray has published two books: EMBEDDED: A Marine Corps Adviser Inside the Iraqi Army and QUANTITATIVE VALUE: A Practitioner’s Guide to Automating Intelligent Investment and Eliminating Behavioral Errors. His work has been highlighted on CNN, NPR, Motley Fool, WSJ Market Watch, CFA Institute, Institutional Investor, and CBS News. Dr. Gray earned an MBA and a PhD in finance from the University of Chicago and graduated magna cum laude with a BS from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.