Testing Behavioral Finance Theories Using Trends and Sequences in Financial Performance
Models based on psychological biases can explain momentum and reversal in stock returns, but risk overfitting of theory to data. We examine a central psychological bias, representativeness, which underlies many behavioral-finance theories. According to this bias, individuals form predictions about future outcomes based on how closely past outcomes fit certain categories. To produce out-of sample tests, we use accounting performance to identify these categories and test the idea that investors misclassify firms and thus make biased forecasts. We find evidence of short-term accounting momentum, consistent with the idea that investors fail to immediately incorporate new information, but find no support for long-term reversal related to accounting performance. Contrary to theory, we find little evidence that the consistency of past accounting performance is related to future returns
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