Staff Reports
Decomposing Short-Term Return Reversal
September 2011  Number 513
JEL classification: G12, D40

Authors: Zhi Da, Qianqiu Liu, and Ernst Schaumburg

The profit to a standard short-term return reversal strategy can be decomposed analytically into four components: 1) across-industry return momentum, 2) within-industry variation in expected returns, 3) under-reaction to within-industry cash flow news, and 4) a residual. Only the residual component, which isolates reaction to recent “nonfundamental” price changes, is significant and positive in the data. A simple short-term return reversal trading strategy designed to capture the residual component generates a highly significant risk-adjusted return three times the size of the standard reversal strategy during our 1982-2009 sampling period. Our decomposition suggests that short-term return reversal is pervasive, much greater than previously documented, and driven by investor sentiment on the short side and liquidity shocks on the long side.

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