Perspective

Value Spreads Are Back to Tech Bubble Highs: Is Everyone Out There Cray-Cray?

This adds another three months of data to the May entry in our series of value spread updates. Over the past two months, some portion of the market went temporarily (I hope) insane, punishing value, as we measure it, to the point where the value spread has retraced most of its modest gains since the beginning of the year. The world doesn’t steadily move a little bit towards what we think is rational each day – painfully for us, it’s not a linear process. But this changes nothing about our belief in the outlook for value.

Factor/Style Investing

Still Crazy After All This YTD

Over these additional three months, value’s returns, as we measure them, have continued apace. Since February, the value spread has fallen slightly, though it remains near its tech bubble peak, at around a 95th percentile. Reminder — a massive valuation dislocation says very little about the timing of when it falls back to earth. But it’s nice to see it start and still leave the spread incredibly high.

Alternative Investing

Everything and More

My colleague and former classmate Antti Ilmanen is at it again with his second book, Investing Amid Low Expected Returns. Very rarely does a sequel stand up to the original (see Jaws II), but that's certainly not the case here!

ESG Investing

Shorting Counts

Man Group recently wrote an op-ed titled “Short-selling does not count as a carbon offset.” Of course we agree it doesn’t. But the headline is quite misleading if taken to mean shorting has no role in the fight to reduce carbon emissions. Shorting does exactly what it’s supposed to do – raise the cost of capital to the emitters, even more so than divestment.

Factor/Style Investing

That’s It, That’s the Update

Over these past two months, value’s returns, as we measure them, have been incredibly strong. This has killed the value spread. That is, it’s about as high as it was in the tech bubble. Just not as high as a few months ago. Yes, “killed” was sarcasm.

Alternative Investing

The Illiquidity Discount?

Conventional wisdom is you get an expected return premium for bearing illiquidity. But what if this is backwards? What if investors will actually pay a higher price and accept a lower expected return for very illiquid assets?

ESG Investing

Shorting Your Way to a Greener Tomorrow

It would be an understatement to say there is confusion in the industry about the use of shorting in an ESG context. When it comes to calculating a portfolio’s ESG score, we have heard arguments ranging from "ignore the shorts” to “net them against longs,” and, my favorite as it’s creatively insane, “pretend the shorts are actually longs.” This note explains why it is critical that shorts be properly accounted for, so that investors can use shorting to reduce carbon exposure, to get to net zero or to achieve other ESG goals.

ESG Investing

Virtue Is its Own Reward: Or, One Man’s Ceiling Is Another Man’s Floor

We examine negative screening in Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) investing, often promoted as virtuous because it avoids “sin stocks” and other assets deemed undesirable. But does it also enhance expected returns?

Asset Allocation

Sin a Little

We apply value and momentum investing—which we believe to be the strongest empirical regularities in finance—to the age-old task of market timing, long been regarded by many as an investing sin. We find that investors may benefit from a modest amount of marketing timing.

Factor/Style Investing

How Can a Strategy Everyone Knows About Still Work?

Some say that once a strategy is “discovered,” it can't work anymore. But certain classic strategies that have worked long-term can still work, though maybe differently than in the past.

Value

Is (Systematic) Value Investing Dead?

When value has underperformed for so long, it’s natural and proper that people wonder if it’s ever going to work again. To test the popular explanations for why value investing is “broken,” Cliff tweaks the value factor’s construction to remove the stocks that best fit these stories. He finds no “this time is different” explanation holds water, affirming our belief that the medium-term odds are rather dramatically on value’s side.