On Stock Market [Mis]Timing Strategies

Do They Come Up Short?

Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA CMP™



Stock market investment rules are notorious for showing profit when tested on the same sample period from which they were developed, and then failing when applied to a new period. According to Professor Roger C. Vergin, it’s dangerous to use the same data to both discover and test the rules.

Of Marty Zweig

Using the “Zweig Strategies” developed by Martin Zweig and published back in 1986 in Winning on Wall Street (WOWS), Professor Vergin shoots some rather sizable holes in Zweig’s indicators by testing them against the 10-year period since WOWS was published. Zweig’s models are applied to various periods from 19 to 33 years, ending in 1985, and they claim to outperform a buy-and-hold strategy with annual rates of return as much as eight times as large, according to some measures. When the author ran these strategies for the 10-year period ending Dec. 5, 1995, not only did they not outperform a buy-and-hold strategy, but they trailed the market averages by a significant amount—9% vs. 14.4% for buy-and-hold.

The “Z” Indicators

Zweig’s indicators include a prime rate indicator, a Federal Reserve indicator, an installment debt indicator, a 4% indicator (market momentum), a monetary model, and a “super” model, which Zweig referred to as “the only investment model you will ever need.” 

Vergin corrects for inconsistencies in the evaluation criteria from one strategy to the next in WOWS and runs the numbers for the original test period first. Zweig’s strategies still outperform buy-and-hold. But, when run against an independent time period, as the author has done, the wheels fall off. Vergin runs the Zweig Strategies against the S&P 500, the Value Line Index, and an index developed by Zweig called ZUPI (all NYSE stocks).


Over the 10-year period, none of the six Zweig Strategies outperformed a simple buy-and-hold strategy when compared against any of the three indexes mentioned above. They produced an average return of 9% compared to 14.4% for buy-and-hold.

In fact, Dr. Burton Malkiel’s [personal communication] conclusion in his book A Random Walk Down Wall Street, was that: “market timing is likely, not only to not add value, but to be counterproductive” seems to have borne out again.”

Note: “Market-Timing Strategies: Can You Get Rich?” by Roger C. Vergin. The Journal of Investing, Winter 1996, pp. 79–85, Institutional Investor, Inc. [212] 224-3185)


And so, your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. By trying enough patterns against past events, one can always find simple rules that “would have” worked well in the past. But, do they hold up against differing periods of time; like say 2008-09? … At least not yet! What do you think?

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2 Responses

  1. Earnings Season is Upon Us
    [Fall 2011]

    “We’ve seen a lot of bear markets hit bottom and turn in October”

    Having studied the markets for over 30 years, I am aware of many nuances that can affect the direction of overall sentiment. And, after evaluating all available data, I have concluded that I have absolutely no idea what is going to happen!

    Bear or Bull?


    And, no one else does either.

    Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA CMP


  2. Dr. Marcinko,

    Interesting thoughts, and comments.

    But, there’s no crystal ball when it comes to timing the market. As a financial advisor, I tell my clients that a sound, diversified investment strategy is still relevant, particularly during volatile times.



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