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Size Matters, if You Control Your Junk

Clifford S. Asness, Andrea Frazzini, Ronen Israel and Lasse Heje Pedersen

No 12684, CEPR Discussion Papers from C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers

Abstract: The size premium has been challenged along many fronts: it has a weak historical record, varies significantly over time, in particular weakening after its discovery in the early 1980s, is concentrated among microcap stocks, predominantly resides in January, is not present for measures of size that do not rely on market prices, is weak internationally, and is subsumed by proxies for illiquidity. We find, however, that these challenges are dismantled when controlling for the quality, or the inverse "junk", of a firm. A significant size premium emerges, which is stable through time, robust to the specification, more consistent across seasons and markets, not concentrated in microcaps, robust to non-price based measures of size, and not captured by an illiquidity premium. Controlling for quality/junk also explains interactions between size and other return characteristics such as value and momentum.

Keywords: Junk; Microcap; Quality; Size; Size Anomaly; Size effect; Small Cap (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: G11 G12 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018-02
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