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A note on the returns from minimum variance investing

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  • Scherer, Bernd
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    Abstract

    Disappointed with the performance of market weighted benchmark portfolios yet skeptical about the merits of active portfolio management, investors in recent years turned to alternative index definitions. Minimum variance investing is one of these popular concepts. I show in this paper that the portfolio construction process behind minimum variance investing implicitly picks up risk-based pricing anomalies. In other words the minimum variance tends to hold low beta and low residual risk stocks. Long/short portfolios based on these characteristics have been associated in the empirical literature with risk adjusted outperformance. This paper shows that 83% of the variation of the minimum variance portfolio excess returns (relative to a capitalization weighted alternative) can be attributed to the FAMA/FRENCH factors as well as to the returns on two characteristic anomaly portfolios. All regression coefficients (factor exposures) are highly significant, stable over the estimation period and correspond remarkably well with our economic intuition. The paper also shows that a direct combination of market weighted benchmark portfolio and risk based characteristic portfolios will provide a statistically significant improvement over the indirect pickup via the minimum variance portfolio.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Empirical Finance.

    Volume (Year): 18 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 4 (September)
    Pages: 652-660

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:empfin:v:18:y:2011:i:4:p:652-660

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jempfin

    Related research

    Keywords: Minimum variance portfolio SHARPE-ratio Risk based anomalies Market capitalization weighted portfolio Bootstrapping;

    References

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    1. Andrew Ang & Robert J. Hodrick & Yuhang Xing & Xiaoyan Zhang, 2006. "The Cross-Section of Volatility and Expected Returns," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 61(1), pages 259-299, 02.
    2. Louis K.C. Chan & Jason Karceski & Josef Lakonishok, 1999. "On Portfolio Optimization: Forecasting Covariances and Choosing the Risk Model," NBER Working Papers 7039, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Blitz, D.C. & van Vliet, P., 2007. "The Volatility Effect: Lower Risk without Lower Return," ERIM Report Series Research in Management ERS-2007-044-F&A, Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), ERIM is the joint research institute of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) at Erasmus Uni.
    4. Ravi Jagannathan & Tongshu Ma, 2002. "Risk Reduction in Large Portfolios: Why Imposing the Wrong Constraints Helps," NBER Working Papers 8922, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Chan, Louis K C & Karceski, Jason & Lakonishok, Josef, 1999. "On Portfolio Optimization: Forecasting Covariances and Choosing the Risk Model," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 12(5), pages 937-74.
    6. Ledoit, Oliver & Wolf, Michael, 2008. "Robust performance hypothesis testing with the Sharpe ratio," Journal of Empirical Finance, Elsevier, vol. 15(5), pages 850-859, December.
    7. Jobson, J D & Korkie, Bob M, 1981. "Performance Hypothesis Testing with the Sharpe and Treynor Measures," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 36(4), pages 889-908, September.
    8. Hansen, Bruce E., 1992. "Testing for parameter instability in linear models," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 14(4), pages 517-533, August.
    9. Tinic, Seha M & West, Richard R, 1986. "Risk, Return, and Equilibrium: A Revisit," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(1), pages 126-47, February.
    10. Fama, Eugene F & French, Kenneth R, 1992. " The Cross-Section of Expected Stock Returns," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 47(2), pages 427-65, June.
    11. Fama, Eugene F & MacBeth, James D, 1973. "Risk, Return, and Equilibrium: Empirical Tests," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(3), pages 607-36, May-June.
    12. Guo, Hui & Savickas, Robert, 2010. "Relation between time-series and cross-sectional effects of idiosyncratic variance on stock returns," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 34(7), pages 1637-1649, July.
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    Cited by:
    1. Auer, Benjamin R. & Schuhmacher, Frank, 2013. "Performance hypothesis testing with the Sharpe ratio: The case of hedge funds," Finance Research Letters, Elsevier, vol. 10(4), pages 196-208.
    2. Serge Darolles & Christian Gouriéroux & Emmanuelle Jay, 2012. "Robust Portfolio Allocation with Systematic Risk Contribution Restrictions," Working Papers 2012-35, Centre de Recherche en Economie et Statistique.
    3. Cazalet, Zelia & Grison, Pierre & Roncalli, Thierry, 2013. "The Smart Beta Indexing Puzzle," MPRA Paper 48823, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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