The Characteristics of Factor Investing
27 Pages Posted: 27 Jul 2018 Last revised: 27 Oct 2018
Date Written: July 2, 2018
We dissect the realized performance of factor-based equity portfolios using a characteristics-based multi-factor return model. We show that generic single-factor portfolios, which invest in stocks with high scores on one particular factor, are sub-optimal because they ignore the possibility that these stocks may be unattractive from the perspective of other factors. We also show that differences in performance between (i) integrated and mixed-sleeve multi-factor portfolios, (ii) small-cap and large-cap factor portfolios, and (iii) equal and value-weighted factor portfolios can be fully attributed to the differences in their factor characteristics. We conclude that efficient factor investing requires an understanding of how factor characteristics drive portfolio returns.
Keywords: factor investing, smart beta, factor premiums, size, value, momentum, quality, low-volatility
JEL Classification: G11, G12, G14
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