Friday, November 23, 2007

Seasonal trades in stocks

Readers of this blog have seen my discussions of various seasonal trades in commodities futures (e.g. see this article). Recently, Mark Hulbert of the NYTimes drew our attention to a seasonal trade in stocks. The strategy is very simple: each month, buy a number of stocks that performed the best in the same month a year earlier, and short the same number of stocks that performed poorest in that month a year earlier. The average annual return is more than 13% before transaction costs, and since it is market neutral, this already considerable return can be leveraged to 2 or 3 times higher. Also, since it turns over the stocks only once a month, transaction costs should not be a major problem. The strategy was developed by Profs. Steven Heston and Ronnie Sadka, and details can be found online here. Besides its simplicity, the strategy is not as affected by survivorship bias in the data set as a mean-reverting strategy, since survivorship bias would tend to lower its backtest performance by excluding very poorly performing stocks that we would short. All in all, it seems to be a market neutral strategy made for retail trading!