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An introduction to security returns


  • Adrian Buckley


The equity premium - the difference between the return achievable from investment in the equity market (RM) and the risk-free rate of return (RF)- plays an important part in corporate finance. The expression equity premium (sometimes referred to as the equity risk premium) is used to denote the ex ante expectation of investors. The term excess return refers to the ex post achievement of stock returns over and above the risk-free return. If we compare US and UK returns, we find that total returns, real returns and the value of (RM - RF) are all marginally higher for the UK. Summarized evidence appears in Table 1 and Table 6. Such greater returns may be due to an increased risk premium related to increasing unexpected inflation. Particularly important in estimating the equity risk premium is whether excess returns are measured using a geometric or an arithmetic mean return. To a significant extent, this question revolves around mean reversion in stock returns. Evidence of mean reversion is substantial, although it cannot be proved unequivocally. Given the weight of evidence of mean reversion, there may be a strong case for the use of a geometric mean with an equity premium of between 3% and 5% - or even less.

Suggested Citation

  • Adrian Buckley, 1999. "An introduction to security returns," The European Journal of Finance, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 5(3), pages 165-180.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:eurjfi:v:5:y:1999:i:3:p:165-180 DOI: 10.1080/135184799337019

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Myung Jig Kim & Charles R. Nelson & Richard Startz, 1991. "Mean Reversion in Stock Prices? A Reappraisal of the Empirical Evidence," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(3), pages 515-528.
    2. Fama, Eugene F & French, Kenneth R, 1992. " The Cross-Section of Expected Stock Returns," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 47(2), pages 427-465, June.
    3. Lakonishok, Josef & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1994. " Contrarian Investment, Extrapolation, and Risk," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 49(5), pages 1541-1578, December.
    4. Mehra, Rajnish & Prescott, Edward C., 1985. "The equity premium: A puzzle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 145-161, March.
    5. Andrew W. Lo, A. Craig MacKinlay, 1988. "Stock Market Prices do not Follow Random Walks: Evidence from a Simple Specification Test," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 1(1), pages 41-66.
    6. Fama, Eugene F & French, Kenneth R, 1988. "Permanent and Temporary Components of Stock Prices," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(2), pages 246-273, April.
    7. De Bondt, Werner F M & Thaler, Richard, 1985. " Does the Stock Market Overreact?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 40(3), pages 793-805, July.
    8. Haugen, Robert A. & Baker, Nardin L., 1996. "Commonality in the determinants of expected stock returns," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(3), pages 401-439, July.
    9. Poterba, James M. & Summers, Lawrence H., 1988. "Mean reversion in stock prices : Evidence and Implications," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 27-59, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Wolfgang Bessler, 1999. "Equity returns, bond returns, and the equity premium in the German capital market," The European Journal of Finance, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 5(3), pages 186-201.
    2. Hans Eijgenhuijsen & Adrian Buckley, 1999. "An overview of returns in Europe," The European Journal of Finance, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 5(3), pages 276-297.


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