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By Jayanth Ganesan
I test whether an investor can increase the returns on their portfolio over the long-term by timing the market using measures of market value, such as the Tobin’s q ratio and the Cyclically Adjusted Price Earnings (CAPE or Shiller-CAPE). To test this proposition, I examine contrarian investor strategies proposed by Smithers and Wright (2000) and investor strategies based on different equity-fixed income combination portfolios. I seek to determine whether these strategies produce higher risk-adjusted returns than buy-and-hold equity strategies such as those proposed by Siegel (2014) for long-term portfolios. I also examine whether Siegel’s theory that stocks are better investment vehicles than bonds for investment horizons greater than 20 years. In my study, buy-and-hold portfolios composed of the S&P 500 have additional annualized returns of 1.5% than portfolios which reallocate funds in alternative securities based on CAPE and q thresholds. I conclude that for long-term investment horizons, an investor is unlikely to increase portfolio returns by reallocating funds to an alternative asset class when stocks are overvalued. However, I do not find that stocks are better investment vehicles compared to bonds as portfolio with bonds have a lower portfolio risk in my sample. I believe that the effectiveness q ratios for market timing is likely to be independent of how the q ratio is calculated. As suggested by Asness (2015), I find that portfolios that utilize both value and trend investing principles with CAPE and q may outperform portfolios that utilize only value-based market timing strategies. I conclude that CAPE and q based timing strategies are difficult to implement without detailed knowledge of future stock valuations.