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Factors or Characteristics? That is the Question

Factors or Characteristics? That is the Question Daniel and Titman (1997) contend that the Fama‐French three‐factor model’s ability to explain cross‐sectional variation in expected returns is a result of characteristics that firms have in common rather than any risk‐based explanation. The primary aim of the current paper is to provide out‐of‐sample tests of the characteristics versus risk factor argument. The main focus of our tests is to examine the intercept terms in Fama‐French regressions, wherein test portfolios are formed by a three‐way sorting procedure on book‐to‐market, size and factor loadings. Our main test focuses on ‘characteristic‐balanced’ portfolio returns of high minus low factor loading portfolios, for different size and book‐to‐market groups. The Fama‐French model predicts that these regression intercepts should be zero while the characteristics model predicts that they should be negative. Generally, despite the short sample period employed, our findings support a risk‐factor interpretation as opposed to a characteristics interpretation. This is particularly so for the HML loading‐based test portfolios. More specifically, we find that: the majority of test portfolios tend to reveal higher returns for higher loadings (while controlling for book‐to‐market and size characteristics); the majority of the Fama‐French regression intercepts are statistically insignificant; for the characteristic‐balanced portfolios, very few of the Fama‐French regression intercepts are significant. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Pacific Accounting Review Emerald Publishing

Factors or Characteristics? That is the Question

Pacific Accounting Review , Volume 18 (1): 26 – Mar 1, 2006

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2006 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.
ISSN
0114-0582
DOI
10.1108/01140580610732769
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Daniel and Titman (1997) contend that the Fama‐French three‐factor model’s ability to explain cross‐sectional variation in expected returns is a result of characteristics that firms have in common rather than any risk‐based explanation. The primary aim of the current paper is to provide out‐of‐sample tests of the characteristics versus risk factor argument. The main focus of our tests is to examine the intercept terms in Fama‐French regressions, wherein test portfolios are formed by a three‐way sorting procedure on book‐to‐market, size and factor loadings. Our main test focuses on ‘characteristic‐balanced’ portfolio returns of high minus low factor loading portfolios, for different size and book‐to‐market groups. The Fama‐French model predicts that these regression intercepts should be zero while the characteristics model predicts that they should be negative. Generally, despite the short sample period employed, our findings support a risk‐factor interpretation as opposed to a characteristics interpretation. This is particularly so for the HML loading‐based test portfolios. More specifically, we find that: the majority of test portfolios tend to reveal higher returns for higher loadings (while controlling for book‐to‐market and size characteristics); the majority of the Fama‐French regression intercepts are statistically insignificant; for the characteristic‐balanced portfolios, very few of the Fama‐French regression intercepts are significant.

Journal

Pacific Accounting ReviewEmerald Publishing

Published: Mar 1, 2006

Keywords: Portfolio management; Stock markets; Risk management

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