Research showing that the lowest risk stocks tend to outperform the highest risk stocks over time has led to rapid growth in so-called low-risk equity investing in recent years. We examine the performance of the low-risk strategy previously considered in the literature and of a beta-neutral low-risk strategy more relevant to practice. We demonstrate that the historical performance of low risk investing, like any quantitative investment strategy, is time-varying. We find that both of our low-risk strategies exhibit dynamic exposure to the well-known value, size, and momentum factors and appear to be influenced by the overall economic environment. Our results suggest time-variation in the performance of low-risk strategies is likely influenced by the approach to constructing the low-risk portfolio strategy and by the market environment and associated valuation premia.
Keywords: idiosyncratic risk, asset pricing, low-volatility anomaly, arbitrage, asset pricing
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