Risk-Neutral Skewness: Return Predictability and Its Sources

53 Pages Posted: 16 Nov 2008 Last revised: 14 Mar 2012

See all articles by Zahid Rehman

Zahid Rehman


Grigory Vilkov

Frankfurt School of Finance & Management

Date Written: March 13, 2012


Using data on individual stock options, we show that the currently observed option-implied ex ante skewness is positively related to future stock returns. This contrasts with the existing evidence that uses historical stock or option data to estimate skewness and finds a negative skewness-return relation. We proxy for the ex ante skewness by using the model-free implied skewness (MFIS) and show that high MFIS stocks outperform low MFIS stocks by 45 basis points per month after correcting for systematic exposure. We find that the positive MFIS-return relation stems from the ability of the current MFIS to identify the deviation of a firm’s value from its fundamental value, and the most overvalued stocks have the most negative ex ante skewness. We further find that the speed of the value correction process depends on the arbitrage risk faced by arbitrageurs trying to exploit the observed inefficiencies. Our results have implications for the segmentation of equity and options markets as well as for limits of arbitrage in equity markets.

Keywords: implied skewness, risk-neutral skewness, options, firm misvaluation, return predictability, beliefs

JEL Classification: G11, G14

Suggested Citation

Rehman, Zahid and Vilkov, Grigory, Risk-Neutral Skewness: Return Predictability and Its Sources (March 13, 2012). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1301648 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1301648

Zahid Rehman

BlackRock ( email )

Murray House
1 Royal Mint Court
London, EC3N 4HH
United Kingdom

Grigory Vilkov (Contact Author)

Frankfurt School of Finance & Management ( email )

Adickesallee 32-34
Frankfurt am Main, 60322

HOME PAGE: http://www.vilkov.net

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