An Intermarket Approach to Beta Rotation: The Strategy, Signal, and Power of Utilities
2014 Charles H. Dow Award Winner
16 Pages Posted: 31 Mar 2014 Last revised: 26 Nov 2019
Date Written: January 31, 2014
It is often said by proponents of the Efficient Market Hypothesis that no strategy can consistently outperform a simple buy and hold investment in broad stock averages over time. However, using a strategy based on the principles of intermarket analysis, we find that this assertion is not entirely accurate. The Utilities sector has many unique characteristics relative to other sectors of the broader stock market, including its higher yield, lower beta, and relative insensitivity to cyclical behavior. Our analysis suggests that rolling outperformance in the sector is not only exploitable, but also provides important signals about market volatility, seasonality, and extreme market movement. We explore historical price behavior and create a simple buy and rotate strategy that is continuously exposed to equities, positioning into either the broad market or the Utilities sector based on lead-lag dynamics. Absolute performance and risk-adjusted returns for this beta rotation approach significantly outperform a buy and hold strategy of the market and of the Utilities sector throughout multiple market cycles.
Keywords: Intermarket Analysis, Stocks, Utilities, Trading, Market, Momentum, Rotation, Volatility, Alpha, Beta, Equities, Sectors, Quantitative, Efficient Markets, Hedge, Asset Allocation
JEL Classification: C00, C10, C50, G00, G11
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation