• Are Idiosyncratic Skewness and Idiosyncratic Kurtosis Priced?

      Cao, Xu; Faculty of Business Programs
      This thesis investigates the pricing effects of idiosyncratic moments. We document that idiosyncratic moments, namely idiosyncratic skewness and idiosyncratic kurtosis vary over time. If a factor/characteristic is priced, it must show minimum variation to be correlated with stock returns. Moreover, we can identify two structural breaks in the time series of idiosyncratic kurtosis. Using a sample of US stocks traded on NYSE, AMEX and NASDAQ markets from January 1970 to December 2013, we run Fama-MacBeth test at the individual stock level. We document a negative and significant pricing effect of idiosyncratic skewness, consistent with the finding of Boyer et al. (2010). We also report that neither idiosyncratic volatility nor idiosyncratic kurtosis are consistently priced. We run robustness tests using different model specifications and period sub-samples. Our results are robust to the different factors and characteristics usually included in the Fama-MacBeth pricing tests. We also split first our sample using endogenously determined structural breaks. Second, we divide our sample into three equal sub-periods. The results are consistent with our main findings suggesting that expected returns of individual stocks are explained by idiosyncratic skewness. Both idiosyncratic volatility and idiosyncratic kurtosis are irrelevant to asset prices at the individual stock level. As an alternative method, we run Fama-MacBeth tests at the portfolio level. We find that idiosyncratic skewness is not significantly related to returns on idiosyncratic skewness-sorted portfolios. However, it is significant when tested against idiosyncratic kurtosis sorted portfolios.