Monday , 25 September 2017


Using a Momentum Investing Strategy Is the Way to Go – Here’s Proof

In volatile markets you must be able to go to cash when markets become dangerous. That is investingexactly what the momentum selection model does well. It protects your capital on the downside and enables it to grow on the upside! If you insist on staying in the stock market at all times, even perfect foresight cannot protect you. The ability and willingness to periodically run away beats the macho strategy of holding on. 

So writes Monty Pelerin (www.economicnoise.com) in edited excerpts from his original article* entitled Stay in Markets – Part III.

This post is presented compliments of www.FinancialArticleSummariesToday.com (A site for sore eyes and inquisitive minds), www.munKNEE.com (Your Key to Making Money!) and the Intelligence Report newsletter (It’s free – sign up here) and may have been edited ([ ]), abridged (…) and/or reformatted (some sub-titles and bold/italics emphases) for the sake of clarity and brevity to ensure a fast and easy read. Please note that this paragraph must be included in any article re-posting to avoid copyright infringement.

Pelerin goes on to say in further edited excerpts:

The final part of this series [read Part I here and Part II here] discusses a momentum investing strategy and applies it to the downturn of 2008. Its results are compared with that of the buy-hold outcome.

The Momentum Approach

A momentum approach identifies which sectors or markets are performing well and then moves funds into these areas. This approach can be used with industries, sectors, within sectors (i.e., best performing stock(s) within a sector), ETFs, mutual funds etc. [Read: Momentum Investing: Ride the Market Waves to Big Profits]

For purpose of illustration, the simple two-asset world of EFA and SPY will be continued. Doing so allows a comparison with the buy and hold results achieved in Part II.

Proprietary Approach

The momentum approach uses multiple performance measures, including measures of rates of change and volatility, to rank assets. For selection purposes, high recent returns rank high while high recent volatility ranks low. Additionally, other minimum criteria are used to screen out assets that do not exceed an acceptable minimum threshold, regardless of the performance rankings.

The minimum threshold criteria mean that a portfolio may not be fully invested at all times. If not enough ETFs exceed the minimums, then cash replaces…them in the portfolio. Thus, for any given time period, a portfolio may be fully invested, partially invested or all cash. Market conditions and asset choices dictate.

To account for cash,  a third ETF is used as a cash proxy. SHY, a short-term bond ETF, is used in what follows. Cash itself or some other relatively risk-free, short-term bond fund would yield comparable results.

The Mechanics of Momentum Investing

Momentum investing requires regular updating of the performance measures. These measures are used to select the assets to be included in the portfolio. The time period for re-balancing is judgmental and situational. Commonly used re-balancing choices are bimonthly, monthly and quarterly. In some cases weekly or annually are appropriate.

This model uses monthly re-balancing. The reason for such a short re-balancing period is based upon the volatility and danger inherent in current markets. If you are “trading in front of Armageddon,” you cannot afford to overstay your welcome.

The monthly re-balance was a reasonable compromise between other alternatives. Quarterly re-balancing was deemed not frequent enough and bi-monthly did not add meaningful value while doubling the calculations and potential transactions.

The Results of Momentum Investing for January 2007 through March 26, 2013

Using the momentum algorithm, one ETF was selected at the beginning of each month and held for a month. One hundred percent of equity was put into that one asset. The selection process was repeated each month thereafter and the portfolio adjusted each month based rankings. In some cases the same ETF ranked highest for several consecutive months.

Each month either SPY, EFA or SHY was selected. SHY was only selected when neither SPY or EFA met minimum acceptance criteria.

The beginning $10,000 equity grew to $18, 143 under the momentum method. This compares favorably with the performance of SPY ($12,576), EFA ($9,626) and a 50-50 weighted portfolio ($11,101) over the full period. For the six-plus years, the total return from momentum investing was 81.4%, dramatically outperforming the buy and hold strategies.

Graphically, the equity balances of all four portfolios are shown over time:

PORTFOLIO EQUITY

stayinmarket2

Take-Aways From The Chart

The superior outcomes exhibited by the momentum strategy are obvious. Less obvious, are the following observations:

  • The momentum strategy never went negative. That is, throughout the period equity never went below $10,000.
  • All of the buy-hold strategies saw equity nearly halved from its beginning amount. Around the 26 month mark the value of buy and hold strategies declined to around $5,000.
  • Around month 19, the buy and hold strategies plummeted while the momentum portfolio actually grew slightly.
  • The maximum drawdown of SPY and EFA were 55.2 and 61.0% respectively. Drawdown represents the largest drop in total equity in percentage terms. For buy and hold strategies, the largest drop occurred during the market selloff in 2008 (approximately months  12 through 28).
  • The maximum drawdown of the momentum strategy was 16.4%. Interestingly, the maximum drawdown occurred around months 40 to 47 (around the first quarter and second quarters of 2010) and not during the major market sell-off of 2008.

Digging Deeper

The following table provides the detail by month.

DETAILS BY MONTH

End Date Portfolio Return SPY EFA Best of 2
1/31/2007 EFA 1.39% 1.50% 1.39% 1.50%
2/28/2007 SPY -1.96% -1.96% -0.12% -0.12%
3/30/2007 SHY 0.45% 1.16% 2.90% 2.90%
4/30/2007 EFA 3.75% 4.43% 3.75% 4.43%
5/31/2007 SPY 3.39% 3.39% 2.36% 3.39%
6/29/2007 SPY -1.46% -1.46% -0.32% -0.32%
7/31/2007 SHY 0.90% -3.13% -2.29% -2.29%
8/31/2007 SHY 1.05% 1.28% -0.63% 1.28%
9/28/2007 SHY 0.55% 3.87% 5.32% 5.32%
10/31/2007 SPY 1.36% 1.36% 4.25% 4.25%
11/30/2007 EFA -3.62% -3.87% -3.62% -3.62%
12/31/2007 SHY 0.30% -1.13% -2.99% -1.13%
1/31/2008 SHY 1.65% -6.05% -7.85% -6.05%
2/29/2008 SHY 1.03% -2.58% -1.02% -1.02%
3/31/2008 SHY 0.25% -0.90% 0.42% 0.42%
4/30/2008 SHY -0.84% 4.77% 5.44% 5.44%
5/30/2008 EFA 1.19% 1.51% 1.19% 1.51%
6/30/2008 EFA -8.80% -8.35% -8.80% -8.35%
7/31/2008 SHY 0.43% -0.90% -3.32% -0.90%
8/29/2008 SHY 0.47% 1.55% -4.25% 1.55%
9/30/2008 SHY 0.78% -9.44% -11.44% -9.44%
10/31/2008 SHY 1.10% -16.52% -20.83% -16.52%
11/28/2008 SHY 1.10% -6.96% -6.37% -6.37%
12/31/2008 SHY 0.56% 0.98% 8.88% 8.88%
1/30/2009 SHY -0.44% -8.21% -13.73% -8.21%
2/27/2009 SHY -0.15% -10.74% -10.39% -10.39%
3/31/2009 SHY 0.50% 8.35% 8.39% 8.39%
4/30/2009 SHY -0.16% 9.93% 11.52% 11.52%
5/29/2009 EFA 13.19% 5.85% 13.19% 13.19%
6/30/2009 EFA -1.43% -0.07% -1.43% -0.07%
7/31/2009 SHY 0.11% 7.46% 10.04% 10.04%
8/31/2009 EFA 4.50% 3.69% 4.50% 4.50%
9/30/2009 EFA 3.80% 3.55% 3.80% 3.80%
10/30/2009 EFA -2.52% -1.92% -2.52% -1.92%
11/30/2009 SPY 6.16% 6.16% 3.92% 6.16%
12/31/2009 SPY 1.91% 1.91% 0.70% 1.91%
1/29/2010 SPY -3.63% -3.63% -5.07% -3.63%
2/26/2010 SHY 0.16% 3.12% 0.27% 3.12%
3/31/2010 SHY -0.27% 6.09% 6.39% 6.39%
4/30/2010 SPY 1.55% 1.55% -2.80% 1.55%
5/28/2010 SPY -7.95% -7.95% -11.19% -7.95%
6/30/2010 SHY 0.42% -5.17% -2.07% -2.07%
7/30/2010 SHY 0.19% 6.83% 11.61% 11.61%
8/31/2010 EFA -3.80% -4.50% -3.80% -3.80%
9/30/2010 SHY 0.12% 8.96% 9.97% 9.97%
10/29/2010 EFA 3.81% 3.82% 3.81% 3.82%
11/30/2010 SPY 0.00% 0.00% -4.82% 0.00%
12/31/2010 SPY 6.68% 6.68% 8.30% 8.30%
1/31/2011 SPY 2.33% 2.33% 2.10% 2.33%
2/28/2011 SPY 3.47% 3.47% 3.55% 3.55%
3/31/2011 EFA -2.39% 0.01% -2.39% 0.01%
4/29/2011 SHY 0.53% 2.90% 5.63% 5.63%
5/31/2011 SPY -1.12% -1.12% -2.21% -1.12%
6/30/2011 SHY 0.00% -1.69% -1.19% -1.19%
7/29/2011 SHY 0.29% -2.00% -2.38% -2.00%
8/31/2011 SHY 0.34% -5.50% -8.75% -5.50%
9/30/2011 SHY -0.10% -6.94% -10.81% -6.94%
10/31/2011 SHY 0.03% 10.91% 9.63% 10.91%
11/30/2011 SHY 0.04% -0.41% -2.18% -0.41%
12/30/2011 SPY 1.04% 1.04% -2.21% 1.04%
1/31/2012 SPY 4.64% 4.64% 5.27% 5.27%
2/29/2012 SPY 4.34% 4.34% 4.83% 4.83%
3/30/2012 EFA 0.42% 3.22% 0.42% 3.22%
4/30/2012 SPY -0.67% -0.67% -2.08% -0.67%
5/31/2012 SHY 0.06% -6.01% -11.14% -6.01%
6/29/2012 SHY -0.10% 4.06% 7.11% 7.11%
7/31/2012 SHY 0.22% 1.18% 0.08% 1.18%
8/31/2012 SPY 2.51% 2.51% 3.20% 3.20%
9/28/2012 SPY 2.54% 2.54% 2.71% 2.71%
10/31/2012 EFA 1.08% -1.82% 1.08% 1.08%
11/30/2012 EFA 2.79% 0.57% 2.79% 2.79%
12/31/2012 EFA 4.37% 0.90% 4.37% 4.37%
1/31/2013 EFA 3.73% 5.12% 3.73% 5.12%
2/28/2013 SPY 1.28% 1.28% -1.30% 1.28%
3/26/2013 SPY 3.48% 3.48% 1.32% 3.48%

The table above consists of monthly data. It includes, reading from left to right, the selection made by the momentum algorithm, the return on that selection, the return of SPY, EFA and then the better return of SPY and EFA.

Some points worth noting from the detail:

1. Any time SHY was chosen, the portfolio was out of the stock market and into cash (cash equivalent). Some serious monthly losses were avoided by going to cash. SHY avoided at least a monthly loss of 2.3% in July of 2007. In the downturn of 2008, SHY was a regular selection. Note the massive losses that were avoided in September, October and November of 2008.

2. The column to the right needs some commentary. It represents the best return for that month between SHY and EFA. It was created to show what “perfect foresight” might produce. It required you to invest in stocks but allowed you to always select the better performing of the two choices. In some cases, “better” was “less bad.” Although such knowledge is unavailable in real investing, it provides an interesting benchmark to see the value of periodically leaving the stock market. This column grew equity to $23,205, higher than that of the momentum selections. While that should not surprise, the following point might.

3. The graph below adds the “perfect foresight” equity line to the graph of the other lines.

PORTFOLIO EQUITY

stayinmarket3

The two red arrows point to important conclusions. Even with “perfect” foresight, the equity line went negative. A drawdown from about $11,000 to about $6,500 occurred in 2008. The other red arrow shows that it took almost four years before the mythical “perfect’ foresight model overtook the momentum selection model. The important point is in volatile markets you must be able to go to cash when markets become dangerous. If you insist on staying in the stock market at all times, even perfect foresight cannot protect you. Without perfect foresight, your pain will be even greater. This last point cannot be emphasized enough in the markets we faced thus far this century.

If you expect…[the markets to remain volatile] as I do, then you must ensure that you have some objective means of leaving the scene…before tragedy strikes. That is exactly what the momentum selection model does well. It protects your capital on the downside and enables it to grow on the upside!

To put this into perspective, a breakdown of the time spent in each asset is useful. The portfolio was all cash 29% of the time. It was invested in SPY 47% and EFA 24% of the time. On average, the portfolio was in cash about 3.5 months per year.

The ability and willingness to periodically run away beats the macho strategy of holding on.

Editor’s Note: The author’s views and conclusions in the above article are unaltered and no personal comments have been included to maintain the integrity of the original post. Furthermore, the views, conclusions and any recommendations offered in this article are not to be construed as an endorsement of such by the editor.

*http://www.economicnoise.com/2013/03/29/stay-in-markets-part-iii/

Part I: There Will Be a Time to Flee the Stock Markets But Not Just Yet – Here’s Why

investing

My answer to the issue of staying in or getting out of markets is to stay in. This answer is independent of whether a correction is imminent or a few years down the road because we cannot possibly know that information….There will be a time to completely flee markets. It is just not now or at least I don’t believe so.

Part II: Is “Buy & Hold” the Way to Approach These Markets?

investing hold buy sell

Assume that we are at a point corresponding to the beginning of 2007. How would our investing/trading techniques weather the same conditions represented by this most recent market adjustment? Would we be able to mitigate the losses (or even avoid them)? A traditional buy & hold, diversified investing strategy will be evaluated here.

Related Articles:

1. You Need to Stay in the Stock Market Despite an Impending Economic Collapse – Here’s Why

investing hold buy sell

You need to stay in markets despite an impending economic collapse. [Really?! Yes, really.] Normally such an expectation would be addressed by getting out of the way of the oncoming disaster and taking ones chips off the table [but,] in this situation, there is no place to hide. Low-risk assets, like bonds and near-cash, produce little to no return…and the threat of rising interest rates and inflation make them dangerous.  Higher risk assets are unavoidable, given current conditions. [Let me explain further.] Words: 830

2. We’re Nolonger Investors – We’re Just Playing Financial Chicken! Here’s Why

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Investing…is dead! It died when markets became dominated by political rather than economic events. Investing principles that worked for most of the last 150 years are irrelevant in today’s politicized world. Investors, whether they know it or not, have been forced into a gigantic game of financial chicken….We are all forced to play this game whether we consider ourselves investors or not. [Let me explain.] Words: 848

3. Momentum Investing: Ride the Market Waves to Big Profits

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It is hard to know what to buy or sell let alone just when to prudently do so. Thank goodness there are indicators available that provide information of stock and index movement of a more immediate nature to help you make such important decisions. This article describes the 6 most popular Momentum Indicators. If ever there was a “cut and save” investment advisory this is it!

4. Time the Market With These Market Strength & Volatility Indicators

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There are many indicators available that provide information on stock and index movement to help you time the market and make money. Market strength and volatility are two such categories of indicators and a description of  six of them are described in this “cut and save” article. Read on! Words: 974

5. Market Timing Works Using These Trend Indicators

investing hold buy sell

The trend is your friend and this article reviews the 7 most popular trend indicators to help you make an extensive and in-depth assessment of whether you should be buying or selling.

6. Be Careful! Former Investment “Rules” Nolonger Work – Here’s Why

investing1

Investment “rules” that were relevant for a century are obsolete. They were based on a world where economies grew, people’s standard of living increased and outcomes tomorrow better than today. Arguably each of these conditions will not hold in the future but if they don’t, neither do the rules of thumb that guided investing last century.  These guiding principles developed and worked in a world that that no longer exists but applying them in the future will result in devastating financial outcomes. [Let me explain.] Words: 1261

7. Stocks Are NOT In Another Bubble – Here’s Why

bubbles

U.S. stocks are off to one of their best starts in years. Most indices are up 10% year to date, prompting many investors to ask: “Are we in another bubble?” The answer is no, at least when it comes to equities. Here are three reasons why:

8. Research Says Stock Market Bull Should Continue Its Run Until…

investing2

The mainstream financial press would like us to believe that because the S&P 500 and Dow 30 are at or near their record highs that it must mean we’re nearing the end of the current bull market and, as such, now must be a terrible time to buy stocks. Let’s not  jump to any conclusions, though. Instead, let’s do our own due diligence to find out. Hint:  If you’ve been stuffing cash under the mattress since the last market crash,  you might want to finally go deposit it in your brokerage account. Here’s why… Words: 420

9. These 4 Indicators Say “No Stock Market Correction Coming – Yet”

Investing financial markets

While I remain cautious on stocks and the risk trade, the technical picture shows that the uptrend to be intact and the bulls should still be given the benefit of the doubt for now. At this point, any call for a correction is at best conjecture [as evidenced by the following 4 indicators]. Words: 399; Charts: 4

10. Can Photos of 35 Swimsuit Models Be Wrong? Lastest “Swimsuit Issue Indicator” Suggests An UP Year for S&P 500!

swimsuit 2013

The Swimsuit Issue Indicator says that U.S. equity markets perform better in years when an American appears on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s annual issue as opposed to years when a non-American appears on the cover. [What is the nationality of this year’s cover model? Can we expect returns above the norm or will we see a year of underperformance for the S&P 500 this year? Read on.] Words: 323 ; Table: 1

11. Bull Market in Stocks Isn’t About to End Anytime Soon! Here’s Why

Investing financial markets

As we all know, money printing always leads to inflation. It’s just a matter of figuring out which assets get inflated. This time around gold is not the only beneficiary, stocks are, too, and I’m convinced that the chart below holds the key to the end of the bull market. Words: 475; Charts: 1

12. QE Could Drive S&P 500 UP 25% in 2013 & UP Another 28% in 2014 – Here’s Why

investing2

Ever since the Dow broke the 14,000 mark and the S&P broke the 1,500 mark, even in the face of a shrinking GDP print, a lot of investors and commentators have been anxious. Some are proclaiming a rocket ride to the moon as bond money now rotates into stocks….[while] others are ringing the warning bell that this may be the beginning of the end, and a correction is likely coming. I find it a bit surprising, however, that no one is talking of the single largest driver for stocks in the past 4 years – massive monetary base expansion by the Fed. (This article does just that and concludes that the S&P 500 could well see a year end number of 1872 (+25%) and, realistically, another 28% increase in 2014 to 2387 which would represent a 60% increase from today’s level.) Words: 600; Charts: 3

13. 5 Reasons To Be Positive On Equities

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For the month of January, U.S. stocks experienced the best month in more than two decades [and the Dow hit 14,009 on Feb. 1st for the first time since 2007]. Per the Stock Traders’ Almanac market indicator, the “January Barometer,” the performance of the S&P 500 Index in the first month of the year dictates where stock prices will head for the year. Let’s hope so…. [This article identifies f more solid reasons why equities should do well in 2013.] Words: 453

14. Start Investing In Equities – Your Future Self May Thank You. Here’s Why

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As Winston Churchill once said: “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty” and in that vain I challenge all readers to fight off the negativity, see long-term opportunity in global equity markets and, most importantly, remain invested. Your future self may thank you. Words: 732; Charts: 6

15. Investors, Get Fully Invested! S&P 500 On Verge of Entering Euphoria Stage of Cyclical Bull Market

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[In spite of all that is seemingly wrong with the U.S. economy] I think we are on the verge of entering the euphoria stage of this cyclical bull market where traders become convinced that QE3 is a magic elexir with no unintended consequesnces. [As such,] I see a strong acceleration and a significant and sustained breakout above the S&P 500 September high of 1475. (Words: 264 + 3 charts)