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Alpha Theory Blog - News and Insights

September 08, 2018

What is Your 6th Best Idea?

 

What is your 6th best idea? If you run a portfolio, the answer should be at your fingertips. The issue is that for an overwhelming majority of the managers I’ve spoken with, it is not. Portfolio management, in its simplest form, is allocating more capital to the better ideas and less to the weaker ideas. If you can’t quickly determine your 6th best, then there are almost certainly mistakes. Mistakes come in the forms of great ideas with too little capital that leave potential return on the table and weak ideas with too much capital that add too much risk.

 

The first step, admitting there is a problem 😊 Step two, determine how you measure an ideas quality. It’ll end up being some mix of expected return, return hurdle, risk potential, conviction level, liquidity, etc. These are factors that every portfolio manager considers when sizing positions, but generally, each factors importance is weighed in a portfolio manager’s head. To be able to answer the question, what is my 6th best idea, these “rules” need to made explicit so that they can be externalized and run the same way against every asset in real time.

 

The new model approximates what you would have previously used your mental calculator to solve. The new model isn’t perfect but gives you an explicit answer you can debate. It will highlight inconsistencies like when your 6th best idea is your 16th largest. Then the question becomes, should we add to this position or is there a reason that the model doesn’t account for?

 

Ask yourself if you can quickly determine your 6th best idea today. If not, reflect on how your process would improve if you had an idea quality rank compared to its position size. If you want to see a system like this working in practice, let us know and we’ll show you a version with your own data.

 

August 17, 2018

Signs of Seasonality

 

One of the members of our Customer Success team was wondering about the difficulty of getting client attention at the end of August. We ran an analysis to try and answer the question, “how active are our clients by month?” We used price target updates, logins, and trades per month as a proxy for investor activity.

 

Signs of seasonality1

 

August was definitely the softest month, but clients weren’t as “checked out” as we expected. We hypothesized that the peak periods would be during earnings season and troughs will be after earnings. Here’s the rub, they’re in the same month. The end of second-quarter earnings season and the before school vacation season are in the same month.

 

To remedy this fact, we created periods starting on the 15th of each month (i.e. August 15th to September 15th). This allows us to catch each earnings season as its own isolated period. Here are the results:

 

Signs of seasonality2(final)

 

There is clear seasonality. The post Q2 earnings season is 2.5 standard deviations from the norm. I suspect that if we broke this down into two-week tranches, we would have seen even more pronounced deviation from August 15th to August 31st.

 

As expected, the Post Earnings Season cohort’s activity was light at 0.7 standard deviations below normal activity, while the During Earnings cohort was busy (+0.8).

 

One of my favorite parts of working at Alpha Theory is that we have a long series of robust, structured data that allows us to ask and answer interesting questions. If you would like to be able to do the same, the first step is collecting and maintaining well-structured data. Then you can ask interesting questions like “what season do we make our most money?”, “who is the best forecaster on my team?”, “how often do stocks go below our risk targets?”, etc.

 

If you would like to learn more about how we can help. Contact us at

 

(866)-482-2177  

sales@alphatheory.com