Buffett's Alpha

46 Pages Posted: 28 Nov 2013  

Andrea Frazzini

AQR Capital Management, LLC

David Kabiller

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: November 2013

Abstract

Berkshire Hathaway has realized a Sharpe ratio of 0.76, higher than any other stock or mutual fund with a history of more than 30 years, and Berkshire has a significant alpha to traditional risk factors. However, we find that the alpha becomes insignificant when controlling for exposures to Betting-Against-Beta and Quality-Minus-Junk factors. Further, we estimate that Buffett's leverage is about 1.6-to-1 on average. Buffett's returns appear to be neither luck nor magic, but, rather, reward for the use of leverage combined with a focus on cheap, safe, quality stocks. Decomposing Berkshires' portfolio into ownership in publicly traded stocks versus wholly-owned private companies, we find that the former performs the best, suggesting that Buffett's returns are more due to stock selection than to his effect on management. These results have broad implications for market efficiency and the implementability of academic factors.

Suggested Citation

Frazzini, Andrea and Kabiller, David and Pedersen, Lasse Heje, Buffett's Alpha (November 2013). NBER Working Paper No. w19681. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2360949

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/

David Kabiller

AQR Capital Management, LLC ( email )

Greenwich, CT
United States

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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