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Investor sentiment dynamics, the cross-section of stock returns and the MAX effect

Recent evidence shows that investor sentiment is a contrarian predictor of stock returns with speculative stocks earning lower (higher) future returns than safe stocks following high (low) sentiment states. We extend this argument by conditioning expected stock returns on sentiment dynamics and show that the mispricing of speculative and safe stocks worsens with sentiment continuations but is corrected with sentiment transitions, consistent with the view that the mispricing of these stocks is sentiment-driven. We show that the unconditional contrarian return predictability of sentiment, at least in the short-run, is due to the returns of stocks in sentiment transitions. Results show that ex post, sentiment is a momentum predictor if subsequent sentiment continues; and a contrarian predictor if subsequent sentiment transitions. We also show that the MAX effect can either be positive or negative contingent on sentiment dynamics and that the absence of a MAX effect following Low sentiment states suggested by prior studies is due to the completely offsetting negative MAX effect when sentiment continues in a Low state, and the positive MAX effect when sentiment transitions from a High to a Low state.
Conference Contribution
Type of thesis
Cheema, M. A., & Nartea, G. V. (2018). Investor sentiment dynamics, the cross-section of stock returns and the MAX effect. Presented at the New Zealand Finance Meeting 2018, Queenstown, New Zealand.
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