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Profitability of pairs trading strategy in an illiquid market with multiple share classes


  • Broussard, John Paul
  • Vaihekoski, Mika


We investigate the practical issues of implementing the self-financing pairs portfolio trading strategy presented by Gatev et al. (2006). We also provide new evidence on the profitability of pairs trading under different weighting structures and trade initiation conditions. Using data from the Finnish stock market over the period 1987–2008, we find pairs trading to be profitable even after allowing for a one day delay in the trade initiation after the signal. On average, the annualized return can be as high as 12.5%, though requiring trading on days a pair is traded lowers the return approximately by three percentage points. On the other hand, lowering the threshold for opening a pair is found to increase returns even after accounting for trading costs, indicating that there might be a more optimal trade initiation threshold available than that presented in earlier literature. The profits are not related to market risk. Pairs trading strategy is found to produce positive alpha during the sample period.

Suggested Citation

  • Broussard, John Paul & Vaihekoski, Mika, 2012. "Profitability of pairs trading strategy in an illiquid market with multiple share classes," Journal of International Financial Markets, Institutions and Money, Elsevier, vol. 22(5), pages 1188-1201.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:intfin:v:22:y:2012:i:5:p:1188-1201 DOI: 10.1016/j.intfin.2012.06.002

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hakkio, Craig S. & Rush, Mark, 1991. "Cointegration: how short is the long run?," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, pages 571-581.
    2. Arturo Bris & William N. Goetzmann & Ning Zhu, 2007. "Efficiency and the Bear: Short Sales and Markets Around the World," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 62(3), pages 1029-1079, June.
    3. Mika Vaihekoski, 2009. "Pricing of liquidity risk: empirical evidence from Finland," Applied Financial Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(19), pages 1547-1557.
    4. Evan Gatev & William N. Goetzmann & K. Geert Rouwenhorst, 2006. "Pairs Trading: Performance of a Relative-Value Arbitrage Rule," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 19(3), pages 797-827.
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    Cited by:

    1. Fabio Pizzutilo, 2013. "A Note on the Effectiveness of Pairs Trading For Individual Investors," International Journal of Economics and Financial Issues, Econjournals, vol. 3(3), pages 763-771.
    2. Sharjil Muktafi Haque & A. K. Enamul Haque, 2014. "Pairs Trading Strategy in Dhaka Stock Exchange: Implementation and Profitability Analysis," Asian Economic and Financial Review, Asian Economic and Social Society, vol. 4(8), pages 1091-1105, August.
    3. Brett C. Olsen & Sanjay R. Sisodiya & Judith Swisher & Neil Fargher, 2016. "A note on assessing the relation between CEO characteristics and stock performance: Alpha Above Replacement," Accounting and Finance, Accounting and Finance Association of Australia and New Zealand, vol. 56(3), pages 787-802, September.
    4. Laila Taskeen Qazi & Atta Ur Rahman & Saleem Gul, 2015. "Which Pairs of Stocks should we Trade? Selection of Pairs for Statistical Arbitrage and Pairs Trading in Karachi Stock Exchange," The Pakistan Development Review, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, vol. 54(3), pages 215-244.
    5. Guglielmo Maria Caporale & Luis Gil-Alana & Alex Plastun, 2017. "Searching for Inefficiencies in Exchange Rate Dynamics," Computational Economics, Springer;Society for Computational Economics, vol. 49(3), pages 405-432, March.
    6. Nyberg, Peter & Vaihekoski, Mika, 2014. "Descriptive analysis of the Finnish stock market : Part II," Research Discussion Papers 10/2014, Bank of Finland.
    7. Krauss, Christopher, 2015. "Statistical arbitrage pairs trading strategies: Review and outlook," FAU Discussion Papers in Economics 09/2015, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Institute for Economics.
    8. João Frois Caldeira & Gulherme Valle Moura, 2013. "Selection of a Portfolio of Pairs Based on Cointegration: A Statistical Arbitrage Strategy," Brazilian Review of Finance, Brazilian Society of Finance, vol. 11(1), pages 49-80.
    9. Bruno Breyer Caldas & João Frois Caldeira & Guilherme Vale Moura, 2016. "Is Pairs Trading Performance Sensitive To The Methodologies?: A Comparison," Anais do XLII Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 42ndd Brazilian Economics Meeting] 130, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pósgraduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].
    10. Lei, Yaoting & Xu, Jing, 2015. "Costly arbitrage through pairs trading," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 1-19.
    11. Jia Miao & Jason Laws, 2016. "Profitability Of A Simple Pairs Trading Strategy: Recent Evidences From A Global Context," International Journal of Theoretical and Applied Finance (IJTAF), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 19(04), pages 1-18, June.
    12. R. Todd Smith & Xun Xu, 2017. "A good pair: alternative pairs-trading strategies," Financial Markets and Portfolio Management, Springer;Swiss Society for Financial Market Research, vol. 31(1), pages 1-26, February.

    More about this item


    Pairs-trading; Statistical-arbitrage; Long-Short; OMXH; Finland;

    JEL classification:

    • G10 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - General (includes Measurement and Data)
    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions


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