Exploiting Factor Autocorrelation to Improve Risk Adjusted Returns

14 Pages Posted: 21 Jun 2014

Date Written: February 22, 2014


The Fama-French three factor model is ubiquitous in modern finance. Returns are modeled as a linear combination of a market factor, a size factor and a book-to-market equity ratio (or “value”) factor. The success of this approach, since its introduction in 1992, has resulted in widespread adoption and a large body of related academic literature.

The risk factors exhibit serial correlation at a monthly timeframe. This property is strongest in the value factor, perhaps due to its association with global funding liquidity risk.

Using thirty years of Fama-French portfolio data, I show that autocorrelation of the value factor may be exploited to efficiently allocate capital into segments of the US stock market. The strategy outperforms the underlying portfolios on an absolute and risk adjusted basis. Annual returns are 5% greater than the components and Sharpe Ratio is increased by 86%.

The results are robust to different time periods and varying composition of underlying portfolios. Finally, I show that implementation costs are much smaller than the excess return and that the strategy is accessible to the individual investor.

Keywords: Value, Fama-French factors, HML

JEL Classification: G10, G12

Suggested Citation

Oversby, Kevin, Exploiting Factor Autocorrelation to Improve Risk Adjusted Returns (February 22, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2456543 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2456543

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