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Markowitz efficiency and size effect: evidence from the UK stock market

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  • Tienyu Hwang
  • Simon Gao
  • Heather Owen

Abstract

Academics and practitioners have frequently debated the relationship between market capitalization and expected return. We apply the Markowitz efficient frontier approach to develop a portfolio performance measure that compares the return of a portfolio to its optimal return, using data from the UK stock market over the period 1985–2012. Our results show that there is a negative relationship between portfolio size and portfolio return during the period under study. When comparing actual portfolio return with achievable return for the same level of risk, we find that as the portfolio size expands, underperformance of the portfolio increases, i.e. the larger the portfolio size, the greater the underperformance. This indicates that Markowitz efficiency is difficult to achieve, particularly in large portfolios. Changing model parameters leads to alternative efficient frontiers that impact upon the measurement of performance. However, the use of alternative efficient frontiers does not affect our result of the size effect on the relative performance of portfolios. Our study shows that the size effect is present over the full period. Our findings also suggest that the excess returns found in small portfolios are likely to be associated with higher levels of diversifiable risk in comparison with larger portfolios. Furthermore, in contrast to other studies, we find no evidence to support the size reversal effect in the data. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Suggested Citation

  • Tienyu Hwang & Simon Gao & Heather Owen, 2014. "Markowitz efficiency and size effect: evidence from the UK stock market," Review of Quantitative Finance and Accounting, Springer, vol. 43(4), pages 721-750, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:rqfnac:v:43:y:2014:i:4:p:721-750
    DOI: 10.1007/s11156-013-0390-8
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Size effect; Efficient frontier; Minimum-variance portfolio; Size reversal; G01; G11; G12;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • G01 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Financial Crises
    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates

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