Cross-sectional learning and short-run persistence in mutual fund performance

Using monthly return data of more than 6,400 US equity mutual funds we investigate short-run performance persistence over the period 1984{2003. We sort funds into rank portfolios based on past performance, and evaluate the portfolios’ out-of-sample performance. To cope with short ranking periods, we employ an empirical Bayes approach tomeasure past performance more e±ciently. Our main finding is that when funds are sorted into decile portfolios based on 12-month ranking periods, the top decile of funds earns astatistically significant, abnormal return of 0.26 percent per month. This effect persists beyond load fees, and is mainly concentrated in relatively young, small cap/growth funds.

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