Alphas in Disguise: A New Approach to Uncovering Them

Mateus, C., Todorovic, N. & Chinthalapati, R. (2015). Alphas in Disguise: A New Approach to Uncovering Them. Paper presented at the European Financial Management Association 2015 Annual Meetings, June 24-27, 2015, Amsterdam, NETHERLANDS.

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Fama-French (Carhart) alphas of passive indices should be zero, but recent evidence shows otherwise. Inaccuracies of factors in the performance measurement models have been put forward as the main reason for this. Some computationally intensive solutions to factor adjustment have been proposed, but are not applicable to all benchmark indices. We propose an optimisation algorithm that makes minor adjustments to the market, size, value and momentum factors to obtain zero alphas for any benchmark index. In the sample of 1281 active and 102 passive US equity mutual funds benchmarking against S&P500, our adjustment leads to augmentation of fund performance upwards in periods of index underperformance and downwards in periods of index outperformance. Overall, the adjusted alphas of both groups of funds are significantly negative, signalling poor performance. This is particularly pronounced for tracker funds, whose managers have not been successful in enhancing returns adequately to make-up for the costs involved in any of the sub-periods examined.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Additional Information: Also available at SSRN:
Uncontrolled Keywords: Performance evaluation, non-zero benchmark alphas, optimisationalgorithm, Fama-French (Carhart) factor adjustmen
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HG Finance
Divisions: Cass Business School > Faculty of Finance
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