Leuthold’s January Green Book includes a simple, yet compelling study about applying momentum at the asset class level:
While even academics now acknowledge the existence of a “price persistence” effect at the stock and industry group level, it is less well known that the phenomenon exists at the broad asset class level. We’ve examined a few simple approaches in which allocation decisions are based purely on the prior year’s total return performance of seven asset classes: Large Caps, Small Caps, Foreign Stocks, REITs, Commodities, Gold and U.S. Treasury Bonds. Contrarians might be surprised to learn that a turnaround strategy of buying last year’s laggards (the #5, #6 and #7 performers), has been a consistently poor approach for the last 40 years. Meanwhile, a naive, momentum-surfing strategy of buying last year’s #1 or #2 performer (or both) has soundly beaten the S&P 500 since 1973. (We suspect these results are especially humbling to those who spend the rest of the year building and monitoring elaborate tools that track valuations, the economic cycle, investor sentiment, etc.)
(printed with permission from Leuthold)
Bottom line: momentum also works well at the asset class level. Click here for a white paper written by John Lewis that also confirms that momentum can be successfully applied to a group of asset classes.