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Institutional investors, analyst following, and the January anomaly


  • Lucy F. Ackert
  • George Athanassakos


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Lucy F. Ackert & George Athanassakos, 1998. "Institutional investors, analyst following, and the January anomaly," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 98-8, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedawp:98-8

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Cristina Ortiz & Gloria Ramírez & Luis Vicente, 2015. "Mutual Fund Trading and Portfolio Disclosures," Journal of Financial Services Research, Springer;Western Finance Association, vol. 48(1), pages 83-102, August.
    3. 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.
    4. How, Janice & Verhoeven, Peter & Abdul Wahab, Effiezal Aswadi, 2014. "Institutional investors, political connections and analyst following in Malaysia," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 158-167.

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    Financial markets ; Seasonal variations (Economics);

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