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The Long-Losting MOM in Weekly Returns

The Long-Losting MOM in Weekly Returns

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05/09/2014

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The Long-Lasting Momentum
in Weekly Returns
ROBERTO C. GUTIERREZ JR. and ERIC K. KELLEY\u2217
ABSTRACT

Reversal is the current stylized fact of weekly returns. However, the brief reversal that follows extreme weekly returns is itself followed by an opposing and long- lasting stream of continuation in returns. These subsequent momentum pro\ufb01ts are strong enough to o\ufb00set the initial reversal and to produce a signi\ufb01cant momen- tum e\ufb00ect over the full year following portfolio formation. Thus, ex post, extreme weekly returns are not too extreme. Our \ufb01ndings extend to weekly price move- ments with and without public news. In addition, there is no relation between news uncertainty and the momentum in one-week returns.

\u2217Gutierrez is at the Lundquist College of Business, University of Oregon. Kelley is at the

Eller College of Management, University of Arizona. We thank two anonymous referees, Rob Stambaugh, Wayne Ferson, Christo Pirinsky, and seminar participants at Auburn University, Indiana University at South Bend, Rutgers University at Camden, Texas A&M University, Texas Tech University, University of Arizona, University of Oregon, University of Utah, Washington State University, and the 2004 Financial Management Association Meetings for their comments. Special thanks go to Wes Chan for graciously providing his data on headline news and to Ekkehart Boehmer and Jerry Martin for data assistance. Kelley acknowledges \ufb01nancial support from the Mays Post-Doctoral Fellowship at Mays Business School, Texas A&M University. Kelley also completed a portion of this work while on the faculty at the College of Business and Economics, Washington State University. Any errors are ours.

Returns of individual stocks reverse in the short run. Lehmann (1990) and Je- gadeesh (1990) \ufb01nd that stocks with the lowest returns over the prior week or month outperform stocks with the highest returns over the prior period. Given these \ufb01ndings, the literature currently views extreme weekly returns as larger than those warranted by a stock\u2019s fundamentals, due to overreaction and/or to microstructural issues. However, we \ufb01nd evidence suggesting that extreme weekly returns are not extreme enough: Despite the brief reversal documented by prior research, abnormal returns over the 52 weeks following an extreme weekly return are actually in the same direction as those in the extreme week. In other words, we \ufb01nd return momentum in a new and seemingly unexpected place \u2014 weekly returns.

While prior studies examine the performance of stocks with extreme weekly returns for only a few weeks, which is the duration of the reversal, momentum pro\ufb01ts emerge several weeks after an extreme return and persist over the remain- der of the year. The momentum that we document easily o\ufb00sets the brief and initial reversal in returns. Figure 1 depicts this result (the \ufb01gure is illustrative only; our statistical methods are based on calendar time, not the event time shown in the \ufb01gure). Each week we construct a portfolio that is long stocks in the high- est decile of the prior week\u2019s return and short stocks in the lowest decile. The brief reversal found by prior studies is con\ufb01rmed as the pro\ufb01ts to the long-minus- short portfolio are negative the \ufb01rst two weeks following an extreme return. The new \ufb01nding is the persistent and impressive run-up in pro\ufb01ts that follows the initial reversal. In fact, the pro\ufb01ts over the 52 weeks following an extreme weekly return are statistically positive and over 3%, a striking addition to our current understanding of extreme weekly returns. Hence, there is actually momentum in one-week returns, net of the initial reversal.

Figure 1
about here.
This \ufb01nding of momentum in one-week returns complements the \ufb01ndings of
return continuation following corporate events and \ufb01rm-speci\ufb01c headline news
1

and also Jegadeesh and Titman\u2019s (1993) \ufb01nding of momentum in longer-horizon returns of 3 to 12 months.1 Given these prior \ufb01ndings, a lack of momentum in short-run returns essentially would be the anomaly within the anomaly literature. Comfortingly, our \ufb01ndings reveal momentum in returns up to one year to be a remarkably pervasive phenomenon. This observation should bene\ufb01t researchers attempting to understand the momentum anomaly.2

Our results also provide researchers of the momentum phenomenon a new, and arguably superior, testing ground for their theories. Using weekly returns to as- sess potential explanations of momentum a\ufb00ords researchers greater con\ufb01dence in identifying the news that underlies the return. The 6-month or 12-month returns commonly used to examine momentum theories preclude such identi\ufb01cation. We exploit this advantage to revisit two recent studies of the potential sources of mo- mentum in returns. Neither Chan\u2019s (2003) \ufb01nding regarding explicit and implicit news nor Zhang\u2019s (2006) \ufb01nding regarding the uncertainty of news extends to the momentum in one-week returns.

Chan (2003) provides evidence that the market underreacts to explicit news, which is \ufb01rm-speci\ufb01c news that is publicly released, yet overreacts to implicit news, which is news implied by price changes not accompanied by any publicly released news. In contrast, we \ufb01nd that extreme-return stocks with explicit news and extreme-return stocks with implicit news behave similarly, both displaying short- run reversal and longer-run momentum (as in Figure 1). This \ufb01nding impedes concluding that the market categorically underreacts to one type of news and overreacts to another type. Caution should therefore be exercised in modeling traders as strictly overreacting to implicit news, which is the general notion in the theories of Daniel, Hirshleifer, and Subrahmanyam (1998), Hong and Stein (1999), and Daniel and Titman (2006).

Zhang (2006) considers another potential determinant of momentum. If mo-
mentum is a consequence of psychological biases inducing traders to misreact to
2

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