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Portfolio selection with robust estimation

Journal

Operations Research

Subject

Management Science and Operations

Authors / Editors

DeMiguel V;Nogales F J

Biographies

Publication Year

2009

Abstract

Mean-variance portfolios constructed using the sample mean and covariance matrix of asset returns perform poorly out of sample due to estimation error. Moreover, it is commonly accepted that estimation error in the sample mean is much larger than in the sample covariance matrix. For this reason, researchers have recently focused on the minimum-variance portfolio, which relies solely on estimates of the covariance matrix, and thus usually performs better out of sample. However, even the minimum-variance portfolios are quite sensitive to estimation error and have unstable weights that fluctuate substantially over time. In this paper, we propose a class of portfolios that have better stability properties than the traditional minimum-variance portfolios. The proposed portfolios are constructed using certain robust estimators and can be computed by solving a single nonlinear program, where robust estimation and portfolio optimization are performed in a single step. We show analytically that the resulting portfolio weights are less sensitive to changes in the asset-return distribution than those of the traditional portfolios. Moreover, our numerical results on simulated and empirical data confirm that the proposed portfolios are more stable than the traditional minimum-variance portfolios, while preserving (or slightly improving) their relatively good out-of-sample performance.

Keywords

Finance; Portfolio; Investment; Economics; Econometrics; Portfolio choice; Minimum-variance portfolios; Estimation error; Robust statistics

Available on ECCH

No


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