What Works on Wall Street: A Guide to the Best-Performing Investment Strategies of All Time Hardcover – May 24 2005
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"What Works on Wall Street is indisputably a major contribution to empirical research on the behavior of common stocks in the United States." - Financial Analysts' Journal
From the Back Cover
Long-term strategies that have always beaten the markets, and how to make them work for you
What Works on Wall Street, Third Edition, cuts straight to the chase, examining actual historic performance figures to tell you which strategies have provided investors with the best returns, which should be avoided at all costs, and why. Comprehensively updated from its bestselling second edition, this investor classic goes beyond hype and rumor to focus on actual results, and tell you what smart investors are doing now.
Critical praise for previous editions of What Works on Wall Street
“O’Shaughnessy’s conclusion that some strategies do produce consistently strong results while others underperform could shake up the investment business.”--Barron’s
“What Works on Wall Street is indisputably a major contribution to empirical research on the behavior of common stocks in the United States….Conceivably, the influence of What Works on Wall Street will prove immense.”--The Financial Analysts’ Journal
“O’Shaughnessy’s latest, What Works on Wall Street, is a serious inquiry into the investment strategies that stand up under long-term scrutiny and is refreshing research for every investor.”--Stocks and Commodities
“O’Shaughnessy’s study is already making waves in the investment community….could well become a classic.”--Smart Money
“James O’Shaughnessy…has enshrined P/S in the investing hall of fame in his superb new book, What Works on Wall Street.”--James K. Glassman, The Washington Post[FLAP COPY]
"What investment strategies have worked over the last 40 years? Ask this man."--Barron's
For many investors, the stock market is little more than a guessing game. The stock market bubble of the late 1990s had many investors convinced that the rules of the game had changed and that this time, it really was different. What Works on Wall Street, Third Edition--with all new data through 2003--shows that it's never different this time. Armed with earlier editions of this book, investors would have avoided the devastation visited on the high risk stocks that were the favorites of investors during the bubble.
What Works on Wall Street, Third Edition, takes the guesswork out of your investment decision-making. This in-depth, updated and data-driven book looks at key strategies and benchmarks that millions of investors rely on to make their investment decisions, and tells you which of these tools have provided investors with the best long-term results.
Acclaimed author and portfolio manager James P. O'Shaughnessy presents factual, unbiased and unexpected findings that prove you can do vastly better than the market simply by consistently using stock selection strategies that have withstood the test of time. Moreover, these five decades of results warn investors to steer clear of some popular investment strategies that are toxic to your wealth.
Expanded to include how various investment strategies perform when used on All Stocks, Large Stocks, Market Leaders and Small Stocks, this new edition of the book also covers all the new research O'Shaughnessy has conducted since the last edition.
Which investment strategies are winners--and which are losers? What factors most reliably indicate that a stock will rise or fall? Are value strategies better than growth? Do small capitalization stocks do better than large? What's the worst-case scenario for the various investment strategies and how long did it take for them to recover? Do these strategies work outside the United States?
What Works on Wall Street answers these questions and outlines a methodical, scientific, and results-based method for making intelligent stock market decisions. "To make the best investment plans for the future, investors need access to unbiased, long-term performance results," O'Shaughnessy writes. And that is exactly what he gives you in this history-making book.
James P. O'Shaughnessy is the Director of Systematic Equity for Bear Stearns Asset Management and a Senior Managing Director of the firm. O'Shaughnessy's investment strategies have been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Barron's, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Investor's Business Daily, The Financial Times, London's Daily Mail, Japan's Nikkei Shimbun Daily, and many other publications worldwide, as well as on NBC's "Today Show," "The Oprah Winfrey Show," CNBC and CNN.See all Product Description
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Highly recommended for the beginner investor.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
As a biased observer (I would have omitted my star rating but Amazon won't allow me to post without it) I will refrain from commenting on the other statements appearing here, but should people be interested in judging for themselves please be careful that the edition purchased from Amazon is from May 2005.
My first problem is the title of the book. It should have been titled "What Has Worked on Wall Street." Many analyses of history suffer from the time period analyzed. The author only had access to data from a fairly bullish period. Had he been able to analyze a full cycle that included the Great Depression, he might have come to different conclusions.
My second problem is that he tests a number of strategies that should yield similar results. One of them will end up the best -- the one that happened to fit the curiosities of history that are unlikely to repeat. (That's one reason why I use a blend of value metrics when I do stock selection. I can't tell which one will work the best.) The one that works the best just happens to be the victor of a large data-mining exercise. Also, when you test so many strategies, and possibly some that did not make it into the book, the odds that the best strategy was best due to a fluke of history rises.
Now, what I liked about the book:
1. Combining growth and value strategies produced the best risk-adjusted returns. The growth and value strategies that did the best embedded a little value inside growth, and a little growth inside value.
2. Avoiding risk pays off in the long run, for the most part. If nothing else, one can maintain the strategy after bad years.
3. Value and Momentum both work as strategies. They work best together.
4. He did try to be statistically fair, avoiding look-ahead bias, diversifiying into 50 stocks, avoiding small stocks, and rebalancing annually.
Now, two mutual funds based on his "cornerstone growth" and "cornerstone value" strategies have run since the publication of the book. The value strategy has not worked, while the growth strategy has worked. Go figure, and it may reverse over the next ten years.
Now for those that like data-mining, and don't want to pay anything, review Tweedy, Browne's What Has Worked in Investing. This goes through the main factors that have worked also. Theirs are:
1. Low P/B
2. Low P/E
3. Net Insider Buying
4. Significant Declines in the Stock Price (anti-momentum)
5. Small Market Capitalization
Either way, pay attention to value factors, and if you trade often, use momentum. If you don't trade often, avoid momentum.
First, the good:
The author has access to the Compustat database, generally considered the gold standard for this kind of research, with the cleanest data. Many other databases exclude companies that are no longer active, which can cause HUGE distortions in long term analyses.
He uses this data to test a variety of "hard rules" based strategies. These strategies mainly consist of selecting the 50 best and 50 worst stocks within the database, which has 8000 companies, though in many cases he restricts the tests to the larger stocks, for reasons he outlines (that I accept as valid).
Most of the book consists of chapter-at-a-time analyses of these strategies. In general, he finds superior risk-adjusted returns to certain value-oriented strategies, and also to the use of 1-year price momentum (stocks that had good price movement last year will overperform this year).
Now the bad:
Still, most of these strategies are rather riskier than owning a broad index. And that's WITH the use of 50 stock baskets, rebalanced annually, for each of his strategies. As other reviewers have mentioned, that implies a lot of transactions, far more than most individual investors would do. You could use smaller baskets (fewer stocks), but your risk would be even higher (less diversification).
Later in the book, he moves into multi-factor strategies (i.e. buy the 50 highest stocks where condition A is true, rank-ordered by condition B). On the one had, some of these strategies yield MUCH higher returns than both the single factor strategies and the market as a whole. On the other hand, there's far more room with these strategies for data mining - combining each of his single factor strategies (there would logically be MANY permutations), until he gets the biggest winners, then presenting only those cases.
Also, the primary database he's using (CompuStat) is prohibitively expensive for most individual investors. So if an individual investor want to test permutations of these strategies, that would be difficult. There are some links to websites with accessible data, but I haven't thoroughly investigated those, and doubt their datasets are as good as CompuStat's.
Finally, his multi-factor strategies amount mainly to screens. At their most complex, he winnows the dataset by a small handful of factors (using an absolute test - a stock is IN or OUT), then ranks the survivors and chooses the 50 best according to his final factor. To me, it would make more sense to develop weighted models. Develop a weight for each of 3..N factors, supplemented by perhaps a couple of screens to remove certain stocks with suspect data, then pick the 50 highest. He mentions towards the end of the book that he does the money he manages, but he doesn't include those results/models here for the rest of us.
I know this sounds like an awful lot of criticism. Nonetheless, there was a lot to like about this book for the advanced investor. I have not seen such a detailed study on CompuStat data. His use of the best data, and inclusion of risk statistics is illuminating. And I like his emphasis on hard numeric data/analysis, rather than 'gut feel' that is common in the investment community (i.e. IBM's new product X looks like a hit. I give IBM a **BUY**).
Still, I doubt more than a handful of readers will be able to put his ideas into practice. Still, if you, like me, want to see the numbers on various investment concepts, using reliable data, I would recommend this book.
Another thing I like about the strategy is that it simply makes sense from a fundamental (and technical) standpoint, and even if it isn't a world beater (it has been so far), it generates a relatively decent, diversified portfolio of stocks....again, the hennessey fund could be cheaper...and those taxes...
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