Mark Hulbert of the New York Times just discussed 2 momentum strategies investigated by professors David Aboody, Brett Trueman and Reuven Lehavy.
Strategy A: pick stocks in the top percentile of 12-month returns. Buy them (individually) 5 days before their earnings announcements and sell them just before the announcement.
Strategy B: pick stocks in the top percentile of 12-month returns. Buy them (individually) 5 days immediately after their earnings announcements and hold them for 5 days.
Strategy A is very profitable: the annualized excess return is 47% before costs. (To be taken with a grain of salt due to the large transaction costs associated with trading momentum strategies, especially if small-cap stocks are involved.) Strategy B is very unprofitable: the annualized excess return is -43% before costs.
So what are the ways we can make best use of this research?
Naturally, instead of buying the top percentile after the earnings announcements, we should have shorted the stocks, thus making Strategy B a reversal strategy instead.
Furthermore, what about the bottom percentile of stocks? Should we have shorted them prior to the announcements, and bought them after the announcements? If so, we would have a very nice dollar-strategy for you statistical arbitrageurs out there!