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1 January 2016 Financial Analysts Journal Volume 72, Issue 1

The Low-Volatility Anomaly: Market Evidence on Systematic Risk vs. Mispricing

  1. Xi Li
  2. Rodney N. Sullivan, CFA
  3. Luis Garcia-Feijóo, CFA, CIPM

The authors explored whether the well-publicized anomalous returns associated with low-volatility stocks can be attributed to market mispricing or to compensation for higher systematic factor risk. The results of their study, covering a 46-year period, indicate that the relatively high returns of low-volatility portfolios cannot be viewed solely as compensation for systematic factor risk. The results from their cross-sectional analyses indicate that average returns to low-volatility portfolios are determined by common variations associated with the idiosyncratic-volatility characteristic rather than factor loadings. This finding suggests that the excess returns are more likely driven by market mispricing connected with volatility as a stock characteristic.

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