59 Pages Posted: 23 Jan 2015 Last revised: 16 Apr 2015
Date Written: January 22, 2015
The size premium has been challenged along many fronts: it has a weak historical record, varies significantly over time, in particular weakening after its discovery in the early 1980s, is concentrated among microcap stocks, predominantly resides in January, is not present for measures of size that do not rely on market prices, is weak internationally, and is subsumed by proxies for illiquidity. We find, however, that these challenges are dismantled when controlling for the quality, or the inverse “junk”, of a firm. A significant size premium emerges, which is stable through time, robust to the specification, more consistent across seasons and markets, not concentrated in microcaps, robust to non-price based measures of size, and not captured by an illiquidity premium. Controlling for quality/junk also explains interactions between size and other return characteristics such as value and momentum.
Keywords: Size, Size effect, Size Anomaly, Small Cap, Microcap, Quality, Junk, Profitability, Market efficiency, January Effect, Illiquidity, Value, Momentum, Low volatility
JEL Classification: G11, G12
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Asness, Clifford S. and Frazzini, Andrea and Israel, Ronen and Moskowitz, Tobias J. and Pedersen, Lasse Heje, Size Matters, If You Control Your Junk (January 22, 2015). Fama-Miller Working Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2553889 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2553889