The Turn-of-the-Year Effect and Tax-Loss-Selling by Institutional Investors
Journal of Accounting and Economics, Vol. 57, No. 1, February 2014
Posted: 26 Jan 2014
Date Written: January 24, 2014
Prior studies attribute the turn-of-the-year effect whereby small capitalization stocks earn unusually high returns in early January to tax-loss-selling by individual investors and window-dressing by institutional investors. My results suggest that a significant portion of the effect on turn-of-the-year returns that prior studies attribute to window-dressing is actually attributable to tax-loss-selling by institutional investors. Among small capitalization stocks, I find that institutional investors with strong tax incentives and weak window-dressing incentives realize significantly more losses in the fourth quarter than in the first three quarters of the calendar year, and that their fourth quarter realized losses have a significant impact on turn-of-the-year returns. A one percentage point change in these institutional investors’ fourth quarter realized losses scaled by a firm’s market capitalization results in an increase of 47 basis points in the firm’s average daily return over the first three trading days of January, which represents a 46 percent change for the mean firm.
Keywords: turn-of-the-year effect; tax-loss-selling; institutional investors
JEL Classification: G20; H24
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation