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Low-Risk Investing Without Industry Bets

27 Pages Posted: 3 May 2013 Last revised: 10 May 2013

Clifford S. Asness

AQR Capital Management, LLC

Andrea Frazzini

AQR Capital Management, LLC

Lasse Heje Pedersen

AQR Capital Management, LLC; Copenhagen Business School - Department of Finance; New York University (NYU); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Date Written: May 10, 2013

Abstract

The strategy of buying safe low-beta stocks while shorting (or underweighting) riskier high-beta stocks has been shown to deliver significant risk-adjusted returns. However, it has been suggested that such “low-risk investing” delivers high returns primarily due to its industry bet, favoring a slowly changing set of stodgy, stable industries and disliking their opposites. We refute this. We show that a betting against beta (BAB) strategy has delivered positive returns both as an industry-neutral bet within each industry and as a pure bet across industries. In fact, the industry-neutral BAB strategy has performed stronger than the BAB strategy that only bets across industries and it has delivered positive returns in each of 49 U.S. industries and in 61 of 70 global industries. Our findings are consistent with the leverage aversion theory for why low beta investing is effective.

Keywords: Low Beta, Betting against Beta

JEL Classification: G10, G11, G12, G15

Suggested Citation

Asness, Clifford S. and Frazzini, Andrea and Pedersen, Lasse Heje, Low-Risk Investing Without Industry Bets (May 10, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2259244 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2259244

Cliff S. Asness

AQR Capital Management, LLC ( email )

Two Greenwich Plaza, 3rd Floor
Greenwich, CT 06830
United States
203-742-3601 (Phone)
203-742-3101 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.aqrcapital.com

Andrea Frazzini (Contact Author)

AQR Capital Management, LLC ( email )

Two Greenwich Plaza, 3rd Floor
Greenwich, CT 06830
United States
203-742-3894 (Phone)
203-742-3394 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.econ.yale.edu/~af227/

Lasse Heje Pedersen

AQR Capital Management, LLC ( email )

Greenwich, CT
United States

Copenhagen Business School - Department of Finance ( email )

Solbjerg Plads 3
Frederiksberg, DK-2000
Denmark

New York University (NYU) ( email )

Stern School of Business
44 West 4th Street
New York, NY 10012-1126
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

77 Bastwick Street
London, EC1V 3PZ
United Kingdom

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