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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?

Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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The Active v. Passive Investing Dichotomy

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The Controversy Continues

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[By Amaury S. Cifuentes CFP® CMP®]

Physician and all investors are often overloaded with information regarding this debate, and many advisors differ in the conclusion of which strategy is best.

Stock Picking

Stock picking is typically a waist of time and few investors or advisors demonstrate the constant ability in picking winning stocks. Timing the market also becomes difficult and typically has negative effects in a portfolio. Investors will also find that they will usually have very little luck finding money mangers that can consistently out perform the market. Investors over a long period of investing time horizon would benefit from passive investing vs. active trading, with some exceptions.

Active Investors

Active investors spend time analyzing stocks or mutual funds based on a mismatch of the price relative to its value. In an efficient market, there is little or no mismatch between the current price and the true value of the investment. Also, real cost and expenses of active management are rarely calculated;  some consider the stock market a zero sum game, if the total market returns eleven percent then the investors must deduct the cost of the transaction, which would lower their return relative to the market.

Mutual Fund Performance

For example, Mark Carhart’s comprehensive study of 1,892 mutual funds title “On Persistence in Mutual Fund Performance” showed that on average mutual fund manager under performs by 1.8% to their relative index.  In addition, William Sharpe Nobel laureate article “The Arithmetic of Active Management” stated that after cost, the return of active management dollars would be less than passive dollars.

Market Timing

Timing of markets is also very difficult. Timing the market can be defined by moving your asset from risky to non risky assets before negative events happen. The Random Walk Theory basically states that there are no patterns in the stock market prices. Basically, information moves the markets and information is random, so logic would suggest that timing the markets effectively is futile. Many reports demonstrate this effect, for example, a report form Javier Estrada, a finance professor at IESE Business School in Barcelona, Spain. He studied the DJIA form 1900-2008 and concluded that if you subtracted the ten best days from the market two thirds of the cumulative gains would disappear (10/29694 or .03%), almost impossible to predict even by the most astute investors. Much more extensive research showing that market timing does not work, Wei Jiang paper “A Nonparametric Test of Market Timing” concluded that timing ability on average is negative. There are countless of studies showing that there is no evidence that timing the markets can produce superior returns.




Investing Difficulties Continue

To make thing even more difficult, investors that seek profession help cannot guarantee that the active managers they hire can consistently over long period of time outperform their benchmarks.  Obviously, it is evident that past performance is no indication of future results as advertised by all financial institution, and most active managers who outperform their bench market do not do consistently over long periods of time. John Boggle’s comprehensive study in 1992 of the Forbes Honor Roll title “Selecting Equity Mutual Funds” concluded that after commissions loads were taken into account the honor roll under performed the market between 1974 and 1990 by a difference of 193.75% cumulative.

Of Professor Burton Malkiel

Furthermore, investors over long periods of time will find that stock picking, timing the market and selecting active managers do not produce superior returns. John Stossel of ABC’s 20/20 interview Professor Burton Malkiel of Princeton University and stated in the interview that “All the information an analyst can learn about a company, from balance sheets to marketing material, is already built into the stock price, because all of the other thousands of analysts have the same information. What they don’t have is the knowledge that will move the stock, knowledge such as a news event, which is unpredictable and impossible to forecast.”


Physicians and all investors may be better off concentrating on asset allocation, picking low cost investment, deciding on tactical or strategic rebalancing and implementing models like the three factor model as pioneered by Professor Eugene Fama and Professor Kenneth French in lieu active management.


Your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

Link: http://feeds.feedburner.com/HealthcareFinancialsthePostForcxos

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com

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