Feb 3, 2010
A prominent money management firm has recently launched several mutual funds that seek to exploit the positive momentum effect in stock prices. Why does this well-publicized anomaly persist and under what circumstances can investors expect to profit from it?

EFF/KRF: The momentum anomaly has been observed in most major markets (Japan is the exception). Many academics claim that trading costs will wipe out any benefits of trying to trade actively on momentum. This will now be tested by live funds. The results will be interesting. 

History provides a cautionary tale. Another anomaly that was all the rage among academics was the January effect. Small stocks tend to have high returns in January and lower return in other months. Interestingly, this anomaly seems to be weak in the live returns of small cap mutual funds, raising the possibility that there is something weird in the quoted prices for small stocks around the turn of the year on major databases.

Eugene F. Fama
The Robert R. McCormick Distinguished Service Professor of Finance at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business
Kenneth R. French
The Roth Family Distinguished Professor of Finance at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College
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Eugene Fama and Ken French are members of the Board of Directors of the general partner of, and provide consulting services to Dimensional Fund Advisors LP.