AQR Insight Award

Market Expectations in the Cross Section of Present Values

2012 FIRST PRIZE

Bryan T. Kelly, Ph.D., and Seth Pruitt, Ph.D.

Returns and cash flow growth for the aggregate U.S. stock market are highly and robustly predictable. Using a single factor extracted from the cross-section of book-to-market ratios, we find an out-of-sample return forecasting R2 of 13% at the annual frequency (0.9% monthly). We document similar out-of-sample predictability for returns on value, size, momentum, and industry portfolios. We present a model linking aggregate market expectations to disaggregated valuation ratios in a latent factor system. Spreads in value portfolios’ exposures to economic shocks are key to identifying predictability and are consistent with duration-based theories of the value premium.

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