# FE670 Algorithmic Trading Strategies. Stevens Institute of Technology

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1 FE670 Algorithmic Trading Strategies Lecture 3. Factor Models and Their Estimation Steve Yang Stevens Institute of Technology 09/19/2013

2 Outline 1 Factor Based Trading 2 Risks to Trading Strategies 3 Desirable Properties of Factors 4 Building Factors from Company Characteristics 5 R Time Series Factor Analysis Package tsfa

3 Broadly we can classify investment strategies into the following categories: 1 factor-based trading strategies (also called stock selection or alpha models). 2 statistical arbitrage. 3 high-frequency strategies. 4 event studies. * Most academics and practitioners agree that the efficient market hypothesis does not hold all the time and that it is possible to beat the market. ** Industry survey shows factors and factor-based models from the core of a major part of today s quantitative trading strategies.

4 Security Analysis by Benjamin Graham and David Dodd (1934) was considered the first contribution to factor-based strategies. Today s quantitative managers use factors as fundamental building blocks for trading strategies. Within a trading strategy, factors determine when to buy and when to sell securities. We define a factor as a common characteristic among a group of assets. For example, the credit rating on a bond, or a particular financial ratio (P/E) or the book-to-price ratios, etc. * We further expand: 1). Factors frequently are intended to capture some economic intuition. 2). We should recognize that assets with similar factors tend to behave in similar ways. 3). We d like our factor to be able to differentiate across different markets and samples. 4). We want our factor to be robust across different time periods.

5 Factors fall into three categories macroeconomic influences, cross-sectional characteristics, and statistical factors. Macroeconomic influences are time series that measure observable economic activities. Examples include interest rate levels, gross domestic production, and industrial production. Cross-sectional characteristics are observable asset specifics or firm characteristics. Examples include, dividend yield, book value, and volatility. Statistical factors are unobservable or latent factors common across a group of assets. These factors make no explicit assumptions about the asset characteristics that drive commonality in returns. Statistical factors are not determined using exogenous data but are extracted from other variables such as returns.

6 Basic Framework and Building Blocks We focus on using factors to build forecasting models, also referred to as alpha or stock selection models. We begin by designing a framework that is flexible enough so that the components can be easily modified, yet structured enough that we remain focused on our end goal of designing a profitable trading strategy. The typical steps in the development of a trading strategy are: Defining a trading idea or investment strategy Developing factors Acquiring and processing data Analyzing the factors Building the strategy Evaluating the strategy Backtesting the strategy Implementing the strategy

7 Basic Framework and Building Blocks Defining a Trading Idea or Investing Strategy: A successful trading strategy often starts as an idea based on sound economic intuition, market insight, or the discovery of an anomaly. Background research can be helpful in order to understand what others have tried or implemented in the past. A trading idea has a more short-term horizon often associated with an event or mis-pricing. A trading strategy has a longer horizon and is frequently based on the exploration of a premium associated with an anomaly or a characteristic. Developing Factors: Factors provide building blocks of the model used to build an investment strategy. After having established the trading strategy, we move from the economic concepts to the construction of factors that may be available to capture our intuition.

8 Basic Framework and Building Blocks Acquiring and Processing Data: A trading strategy relies on accurate and clean data to build factors. There are a number of third-party solutions and databases available for this purpose such as Thomson Routers MarketQA, Factset Research Systems, and Compustats. Analyzing the Factors: A variety of statistical and econometric techniques must be performed on the data to evaluate the empirical properties of factors. This empirical research is used to understand the risk and return potential of a factor. The analysis is the starting point for building a model of a trading strategy.

9 Basic Framework and Building Blocks Building Strategy: The model represents a mathematical specification of the trading strategy. There are two important considerations in this specification: the selection of which factors and how these factors are combined. Both considerations need to be motivated by the economic intuition behind the trading strategy. Evaluating, Backtesting, and Implementing the Strategy: The final step involves assessing the estimation, specification, and forecasting quality of the model. This analysis includes examining the goodness of fit (often done in sample), forecasting ability (often done out of sample), and sensitivity and risk characteristics of the model.

10 Risks to Trading Strategies In investment management, risk is a primary concern. The majority of trading strategies are not risk free but rather subject to various risks. Here we describe some common risks to factor trading strategies as well as other trading strategies. Fundamental risk is the risk of suffering adverse fundamental news. For example, a good company with high earnings to price ratios may suddenly face a class-action litigation. We can minimizing the exposure to fundamental risk by diversifying across many companies. But sometime, fundamental risk could be systemic. In this case, portfolio managers that were sector or market neutral in general may do well.

11 Noise risk is the risk that a mispricing may worsen in the short run. The idea here is that the premium or value takes too long to be realized, resulting in a realized lower than a targeted rate of return. Model risk, also referred to as misspecification risk, refers to the risk associated with making wrong modeling assumptions and decisions. This includes the choice of variables, methodology, and context the model operates in. We reviewed several remedies based on information theory, Bayesian methods, shrinkage, and random coefficient models. Liquidity risk is a concern for investors. Liquidity is defined as the ability to trade quickly without significant price changes, and the ability to trade large volume without significant price changes. Liquidity could be dried up under a stressed market circumstance.

12 Desirable Properties of Factors Factors should be founded on sound economic intuition, market insight, or an anomaly. In addition to the underlying economic reasoning, factors should have other properties that make them effective for forecasting: - It is an advantage if factors are intuitive to investors. Many investors will only invest in particular fund if they understand and agree with the basic ideas behind the trading strategies. Factors give portfolio managers a tool in communicating to investors what themes they are investing in. - The search for the economic meaningful factors should avoid strictly relying on pure historical analysis. Factors used in a model should not emerge from a sequential process of evaluating successful factors while removing less favorable ones.

13 - A group of factors should be parsimonious in its description of the trading strategy. This will require careful evaluation of the interaction between the different factors. For example, highly correlated factors will cause the interferences made in a multivariate approach to be less reliable. - The success of failure of factors selected should not depend on a few outliers. It is desirable to construct factors that are reasonably robust to outliers. Source of Factors: The sources are widespread with no one dominating clearly. Search through a variety of sources seems to provide the best opportunity to uncover factors that will be valuable for new models. Example sources include economic foundations, inefficiency in processing information, financial reports, discussions with portfolio managers or traders, sell-side reports or equity research reports, and academic literature in finance, accounting, and economics, etc.

14 Building Factors from Company Characteristics - We desire our factors to relate the financial data provided by a company to metrics that investors use when making decisions about the attractiveness of a stock such as valuation ratios, operating efficiency ratios, profitability ratios, and solvency ratios. - Factors should also relate to the market data such as forecasts, prices and returns, and trading volume. We distinguish three categories of financial data: time series, cross-sectional, and panel data. - Time series data consist of information and variables collected over multiple time periods. Cross-sectional data consist of data collected at one point in time for many different companies. A panel data set consists of cross-sectional data collected at different points in time.

15 Data Integrity Quality data maintain several attributes such as providing a consistent view of history, maintaining good data availability, containing no survivorship, and avoid look-ahead bias. It is important for the quantitative researchers to be able to recognize the limitations and adjust the data accordingly. - Backfilling of data happens when a company is first entered into a database at the current period and its historical data are also added. - Restatement of data are prevalent in distorting consistency of data. Many database companies may overwrite the number initially recorded. - Survivorship bias occurs when companies are removed from the database when the no longer exists. - Lookahead bias occurs when data are used in a study that would not have been available during the actual period analyzed.

16 Data Integrity Example This example illustrates how the nuances of data handling can influence the results of a particular study. When use data from Compustats database to calculate EBITA/EV factors. Figure : Percentage of Companies in Russell 1000 with Different Ranking According to the EBITA/EV Factor.

17 Data Integrity Example Our universe of stocks is the Russell 1000 from December to December 2008, excluding financial companies. We calculate EBITA/EV by two equivalent but different approaches. 1 EBITA = Sales (Compustats data item 2) - Cost of Goods Sold (Compustats data item 30) - Selling and General Administrative Expense (Compustats item 1) 2 EBITA = Operating Income before Depreciation (Compustats data item 21) * According to Compustats manual these two quantity should be equal. But we observe the results are not identical. As matter there are large differences, particularly in the earlier period.

18 Methods to Adjust Factors - A factor may need to be adjusted using analytical or statistical techniques to be more useful for modeling. The following three adjustment are common: - Standardization: It rescales a variable while preserving its order. Typically, we choose the standardized variable to have a mean of zero and a standard deviation of one by using the transformation x new i = x i x i σ x - Orthogonalization: Orthogonalizing a factor for other specified factor(s) removes this relationship. To orthogonalize the factor using averages according to industries or sectors, we can first calculate industry scores s k = n i=1 x i ind i,k n i=1 ind i,k

19 where x i is a factor and ind i,k represent the weight of stock i in industry k. Next we subtract the industry average of the industry scores, s k, from each stock. We compute where x new i xi new = x i ind i,k s k k Industries is the new industry neutral factor. We can also use linear regression to orthogonalize a factor. We first determine the coefficients in the equation x i = a + b f i + ɛ i where f i is the factor to orthogonalize the factor x i by, b is the contribution of f i to x i, and ɛ i is the component of the factor x i not related to f i ɛ i is orthogonal to f i (that is, ɛ i is independent of f i ) and represents the neutralized factor x new = ɛ i

20 In the same fashion, we can orthogonalize our variable relative to a set of factors by using the multivariate linear regression x i = a + j b j f j + ɛ i and then setting x new j = ɛ i. The interaction between factors in a risk model and an alpha model often concerns portfolio managers. One possible approach to address this concern is to orthogonalize the factors or final scores from the alpha model against the factors used in the risk model. - Transformation: It is a common practice to apply transformations to data used in statistical and econometric models. In particular, factors are often transformed such that the resulting series is symmetric or close to being normally distributed. Frequently used transformations include natural logarithms, exponentials, and square roots.

21 - Outliers Detection and Management: Outliers are observations that seem to be inconsistent with the other values in a data set. Financial data contain outliers for a number of reasons including data errors, measurement errors, or unusual events. Outliers can be detected by several methods. Graphs such as boxplots, scatter plots, or histograms can be useful to visually identify them. Alternatively there are number of numerical techniques available. One common method is to compute the inter-quantile-range and then identify outliers as a measure of dispersion and is calculated as the difference between the third and first quartiles of a sample. Winsorization is the process of transforming extreme values in the data. First, we calculate percentiles of the data. Next we define outliers by referencing a certain percentile ranking. It is important to fully investigate the practical consequences of using either one of these procedures.

22 - This example illustrates the steps for estimating a factor model using as an example the data and process which led to results reported in Gilbert and Meijer (2006). The background theory is reported in Gilbert and Meijer (2005) Figure : Data Explained by a 4 Factor Model

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