Low Risk Anomaly Everywhere - Evidence from Equity Sectors
25 Pages Posted: 20 Nov 2014
Date Written: November 19, 2014
We give strong empirical evidence of a risk anomaly in equity sectors in a number of regions and countries of developed and emerging markets, with the lowest risk stocks in each activity sector generating higher returns than would be expected given their levels of risk, and the converse outcome for the riskier stocks. We believe this evidence is a likely consequence of the fact that equity analyst and active fund managers tend to specialize in particular sectors and to mainly select stocks from those sectors. Additionally, constraints restricting the deviation of sector weights in active portfolios against their market capitalization benchmarks are often used by active fund managers, in particular by quantitative managers which tend to go as far as being sector neutral. As a consequence, we find that sector-neutral, low-risk approaches appear more efficient at generating alpha than non-sector neutral approaches, with the latter showing strong sector allocation towards financials, utilities and consumer staples than sector neutral, at least when applied to developed countries in a global universe. We also discuss some properties of low-risk investing such as tail risk, turnover and liquidity.
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