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Why You Should Not Bet On (High) Beta

by: Lawrence Hamtil  on Thursday, August 09, 2018

One of the more fascinating theories in behavioral finance is the "theory of leverage aversion," which, simply put, is the notion that investors who cannot or do not wish to add leverage to their portfolios (in order to magnify returns) instead do the next best thing, which is to load up on stocks with high beta.  In rough terms, a high beta stock is one with higher-than-average volatility than the overall stock market, but also therefore a higher chance of outperforming the market by delivering outsized returns, something researchers have come to call "lottery stocks."   Read More

A Min Vol - Momentum Barbell for Overseas Markets

by: Lawrence Hamtil  on Monday, August 06, 2018

A few months ago, I wrote about the compelling case for pairing minimum volatility with momentum strategies in a "barbell" approach.  The idea, in a nutshell, was to create a 50-50 portfolio of Minimum Volatility & Momentum (rebalanced annually).  This balancing of two extremes would help limit the extremes experienced by each factor portfolio during certain cycles (think the tech bubble and its aftermath for momentum), making the ride much smoother for investors by reducing long periods of underperformance.   Read More

Signals of Warning vs Signals of Opportunity

by: Lawrence Hamtil  on Tuesday, July 31, 2018

As Sam Lee has written, valuation in isolation can be a poor tool for making portfolio allocation decisions.  However, when paired with a less quantifiable - though no less real - measure such as investor sentiment, valuation-based timing can be powerful.  Consider the cases of two industries, which began the current millennium in utterly different circumstances:  telecommunications, which in March of 2000 was at its apex in terms of share of stock market capitalization and investor appetite, and tobacco, which was widely shunned by the investment community, the result of government lawsuits against the industry. Read More