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Portable alphas from pension mispricing


  • José M. Marín
  • Francesco Franzoni


We introduce a new dynamic trading strategy based on the systematic misspricing of U.S. companies sponsoring Defined Benefit pension plans. This portfolio produces an average return of 1.51% monthly between 1989 and 2004, with a Sharpe Ratio of 0.26. The returns of the strategy are not explained by those of primary assets. These returns are not related to those of benchmarks in the alternative investments industry either. Hence, we are in the presence of a "pure alpha" strategy that can be ported into a large variety of portfolios to significantly enhance their performance.

Suggested Citation

  • José M. Marín & Francesco Franzoni, 2005. "Portable alphas from pension mispricing," Economics Working Papers 894, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  • Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:894

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. William Goetzmann & Jonathan Ingersoll & Matthew I. Spiegel & Ivo Welch, 2002. "Sharpening Sharpe Ratios," NBER Working Papers 9116, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Brown, Stephen J. & Goetzmann, William N., 1997. "Mutual fund styles," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(3), pages 373-399, March.
    3. Fama, Eugene F. & French, Kenneth R., 1993. "Common risk factors in the returns on stocks and bonds," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 3-56, February.
    4. Francesco Franzoni & José M. Marín, 2006. "Pension Plan Funding and Stock Market Efficiency," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 61(2), pages 921-956, April.
    5. Daniel Bergstresser & Mihir Desai & Joshua Rauh, 2006. "Earnings Manipulation, Pension Assumptions, and Managerial Investment Decisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(1), pages 157-195.
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    Cited by:

    1. Coronado, Julia & Mitchell, Olivia S. & Sharpe, Steven A. & Blake Nesbitt, S., 2008. "Footnotes aren't enough: the impact of pension accounting on stock values," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 7(03), pages 257-276, November.
    2. Nakajima, Kan & Sasaki, Takafumi, 2010. "Unfunded pension liabilities and stock returns," Pacific-Basin Finance Journal, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 47-63, January.
    3. Atanasova, Christina & Hrazdil, Karel, 2010. "Why do healthy firms freeze their defined-benefit pension plans?," Global Finance Journal, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 293-303.
    4. Franzoni, Francesco, 2009. "Underinvestment vs. overinvestment: Evidence from price reactions to pension contributions," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(3), pages 491-518, June.

    More about this item


    Defined Benefit Plans; Portable Alpha; Enhanced Indexing; Pension Contributions; Pricing Anomaly;

    JEL classification:

    • D8 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty
    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates
    • G14 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Information and Market Efficiency; Event Studies; Insider Trading

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