Quarterly Seasonality in U.S. Stock Returns

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Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
School of Business | Master's thesis
Date
2018
Major/Subject
Mcode
Degree programme
Finance
Language
en
Pages
63
Series
Abstract
This Thesis proves a quarterly seasonality pattern in U.S. stock returns: stock’s expected return in a given month t is correlated with its returns in past lagged quarterend months i.e. months t-3,6,9,…. Strategies based on quarterend lags outperform those based on past returns of all months. Unlike in the case past returns in general, the correlation between the stock price and quarterend lags does not reverse after the most recent past year. Indeed, the quarterend lags do not seem to contribute to long-term return reversal phenomena. The return pattern is strong. A zero-investment strategy investing based on the returns of the past four quarterends yields on average 1.25% per month in the period of 1946-2016 and is both more profitable and less risky than a traditional momentum portfolio during the same period. Returns of zero-investment quarterend portfolios are significantly positive in all tested formation intervals up to lagged 20 years. Quarterly seasonality cannot be solely explained by the annual seasonality found by Heston and Sadka (2008) but portfolios based on nonannual quarterend lags still yield higher returns than other strategies. The quarterend pattern is stronger in value weighted returns but also exists in equal weighted portfolios. Controlling for firm-specific events of the calendar year like earnings announcements and ex-dividend dates does not diminish the superiority of quarterend strategies, nor are their returns tied to any particular calendar period of the year.
Description
Thesis advisor
Nyberg, Peter
Keywords
momentum, effect of past returns, cross-sectional seasonality, quarterly seasonality
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