An investment strategy based on return on capital and earnings yield

Howard, William Ford (2015-04)

Thesis (MBA)--Stellenbosch University, 2015.


ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Portfolio managers and investors have developed numerous stock-picking strategies for managing stock market portfolios, many of which have been researched extensively in international markets. For example, research has shown that value stocks have higher returns than growth stocks in markets around the world (Fama & French 1998). A very popular value investing strategy is the ‘magic formula’ developed and published by Joel Greenblatt, in 2006, in his book The little book that beats the market. This strategy is based on constructing portfolios where return on capital and earnings yield are used as selection criteria. Greenblatt (2010) provided results that showed that the magic formula strategy was able to persistently outperform the United States stock market from 1988 to 2009. This study provides a back-test of the magic formula on stocks listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange for the period 1 January 1998 to 31 December 2013. The return was benchmarked against the FTSE/JSE J203 All Share Total Return Index and several other popular value investing strategies over the same period. It was found that, even after adjusting for risk, the magic formula was able to consistently outperform the market index. While the magic formula was able to outperform the market index, it was not the top performing value investing strategy evaluated in this study. The magic formula was outperformed by the combination of size and book-to-market, book-to-market alone, dividend yield, and earnings yield value investing strategies. While the magic formula, and the above mentioned value investing strategies, were able to outperform the market index in terms of overall geometric mean returns, there is not enough evidence to conclude that these value investing strategies outperformed the market index by a statistically significant margin.

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