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Institutional investors, analyst following, and the January anomaly

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  • Lucy F. Ackert
  • George Athanassakos

Abstract

Studies have documented that average stock returns for small, low-stock-price firms are higher in January than for the rest of the year. Two explanations have received a great deal of attention: the tax-loss selling hypothesis and the gamesmanship hypothesis. This paper documents that seasonality in returns is not a phenomenon observed only for small firms' stock or those with low prices. Strong seasonality in excess returns is reported for a sample of widely followed firms. Sample firms have unusually low excess returns in January, and returns adjust upward over the remainder of the year. These results are consistent with the gamesmanship hypothesis but not the tax-loss-selling hypothesis. As financial institutions rebalance their portfolios in January to sell the stock of highly visible and low-risk firms, there is downward price pressure in January. In addition, the results suggest that firm visibility explains why seasonality in returns is related to firm size and stock price. Once we control for visibility, market value and uncertainty do not appear to be important determinants of seasonality.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta in its series Working Paper with number 98-8.

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Date of creation: 1998
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedawp:98-8

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Keywords: Financial markets ; Seasonal variations (Economics);

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Cited by:
  1. Ali F. Darrat & Bin Li & Benjamin Liu & Jen Je Su, 2011. "A Fresh Look at Seasonal Anomalies: An International Perspective," International Journal of Business and Economics, College of Business, and College of Finance, Feng Chia University, Taichung, Taiwan, vol. 10(2), pages 93-116, August.
  2. Ortiz, Cristina & Sarto, José Luis & Vicente, Luis, 2012. "Portfolios in disguise? Window dressing in bond fund holdings," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 418-427.

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