Asymmetric Attention and Stock Returns
55 Pages Posted: 1 Mar 2011 Last revised: 22 Aug 2018
Date Written: August 20, 2018
This paper constructs a new measure of attention allocation by local investors relative to nonlocals using aggregate search volume from Google. We first present a conceptual framework in which local investors optimally choose to focus their attention on local stocks when they receive private news, leading to an asymmetric allocation of attention between local and nonlocal investors. Consistent with the main prediction of this framework, we find that firms attracting abnormally high asymmetric attention from local relative to nonlocal investors earn higher returns. A portfolio that goes long in stocks with high asymmetric attention and short in stocks with low asymmetric attention has an alpha of 32 basis points per month. The results are stronger for stocks with a greater degree of information frictions. The new measure of asymmetric attention allows one to infer the arrival of unobservable private information by observing investors' attention allocation behavior.
Keywords: Limited attention, Geography, Asymmetric Information, Stock Returns
JEL Classification: G12, G14, D82
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