Low Beta/Vol Outperformance

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…

 

I am a low-beta sheep, not a value sheep. Trust me.

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.

 

Not all high beta is bad; just high beta and high disagreement!

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

About the Author

Wesley R. Gray, Ph.D.Better known as "The Turnkey Analyst, Ph.D.", Executive Managing Member, Empiritrage, LLC, Assistant Professor of Finance, Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business, United States Marine Corps, Captain, Ground Intelligence Officer, Published author; featured speaker, author, and lecturer at numerous venues (top-tier universities, museums, radio, and television), Ph.D./M.B.A. Finance, University of Chicago Booth School of Business, B.S. The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, magna cum laude Wes' homepage is at http://welcometotheadventure.com/View all posts by Wesley R. Gray, Ph.D. →

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