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The 52-week high strategy and information uncertainty

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This paper examines the driver of the 52-week high strategy, which is long in stocks close to their 52-week high price and short in stocks with a price far below their one-year high, and tests the hypothesis that this strategy’s profitability can be explained by anchoring—a behavioral bias. To test the null, we examine whether the 52-week high criterion has more predictive power in cases of larger information uncertainty. This hypothesis is based on the psychological insight that behavioral biases increase in uncertainty. For six proxies of ambiguity, we document a positive relationship to returns of 52-week high winner stocks and a negative relationship to returns of 52-week high loser stocks. The opposite effect of information uncertainty on winner and loser stocks implies that the 52-week high profits are increasing in uncertainty measures. Moreover, the study documents that the six variables have a similar impact on momentum profits. Hence, we cannot reject the hypothesis that anchoring explains the profits of the 52-week high strategy and that it is the driver of the momentum anomaly.

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Correspondence to Felix Prothmann.

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Burghof, H., Prothmann, F. The 52-week high strategy and information uncertainty. Financ Mark Portf Manag 25, 345–378 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11408-011-0161-2

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  • Momentum
  • Behavioral finance

JEL Classification

  • G12
  • G14