Why Nifty Midcap150 Quality 50 index performance is a warning for factor investing fans

Last Updated on November 2, 2023 at 8:40 amA few years ago, when the NSE introduced factor indices, aka smart-beta investing, I was among the first to get excited and wrote a slew of articles such as these: (1) Are Nifty Smart Beta (strategic) Indices better than the Nifty Next 50? (2) Picking Stocks With Low Volatility: A simple but effective strategy? (3) Nifty High Beta 50: an unsmart beta strategyFactor investing combines the benefits of active stock picking based on a pre-defined definition and passive investing. A factor-based passive fund is more expensive than a market capitalization-based passive fund but less expensive than a traditional active fund. Index curators push factor indices as a”market-beating” option on an absolute or risk-adjusted basis, as it aids their revenue if more AMCs launch products that track such indices.My enthusiasm was short-lived when an industry expert I admire pointed out that the definitions and stock baskets are cherry-picked to produce good results with past data. This does not mean they will work in future. He summarised his thoughts here: Data Mining in Index Construction: Why Investors need to be cautious.He later pointed out something that I did not realise: There is a significant phase lag between ideas that turn into products in the “West” and in India. When the Indian MF industry and the Indian investor turned their attention to factor indices, the West had already started recognising that these funds would not always outperform. See, for example, Factor ETFs Fail to Deliver Their Promised Outsize Returns. More and much older articles can be found searching for “factor investing failure”.Soon after the Nifty Midcap150 Quality 50 index was launched, I analyzed its performance and found Midcap mutual funds struggle to beat it. Soon, the index was added as a benchmark to our monthly equity mutual fund outperformance screener.Thanks to his counsel (he does not wish to be named), I was significantly mellowed in my appraisal of the UTI Nifty Midcap 150 Quality 50 Index Fund and DSP Nifty Midcap 150 Quality 50 Index Fund. The crux of the argument is that the definition of “quality” (and “value”) is quite arbitrary.I continue to believe in “low volatility”. I am invested in UTI S&P SE Low Volatility Index Fund and use the notion for my occasional stock picking: Stock Portfolio Analysis: Oct 2023 (which, by the way, is not doing so well in the last few months, but my intention with it is to serve as an income source so I am not too worried). Our anti-factor expert does not think much about low volatility either. 🙂 Guess I will live and learn some lessons here!This is the performance of Nifty Midcap150 Quality 50 vs Nifty Midcap150 since inception.Performance of Nifty Midcap150 Quality 50 vs Nifty Midcap150 Total Return Indices from Apr 2005If you casually look at this, this seems like a “wow” graph advertising the efficacy of the quality factor. A closer look would tell you that the factor index has had at least two drawdowns (fall from a peak) higher than the base mid cap index – during the 2020 crash and the fall since Oct 2021. Still (some would argue), “quality” has outperformed. Not so fast.This is the performance over the last 12 years. To the left of the arrow is a 10-year window where the factor index has done well. To the right of the arrow is the last two-year window.Performance of Nifty Midcap150 Quality 50 vs Nifty Midcap150 Total Return Indices from Nov 2011The ten-year outperformance from Oct 2011 to Oct 2021 has been erased by poor performance over the last two years. And how bad have the last two years been?!Performance of Nifty Midcap150 Quality 50 vs Nifty Midcap150 Total Return Indices from Oct 2021As someone commented on social media, “Looks like someone fell asleep at the wheel”! The quality factor fell more than the broad market mid cap index and did not recover as much over the six months, as shown below.Performance of Nifty Midcap150 Quality 50 vs Nifty Midcap150 Total Return Indices from March 28 2023I am unaware of the reasons behind this poor performance, and I am not interested in finding out as we would only end up with opinions. Also, this does not mean the quality index will always underperform in future.These results mean only one thing: Factor indices can underperform for significant periods and erase past gains. If you consider higher fees compared to broad-market passive funds, the underperformance will be higher.Those who “believe” in factor indices must be ready to go through such rough patches. Most investors are not capable of this. Therefore, we recommend sticking to a simple Nifty or Sensex index fund. Do share this article with your friends using the buttons below. 🔥Enjoy massive discounts on our courses, robo-advisory tool and exclusive investor circle! 🔥& join our community of 5000+ users! Use our Robo-advisory Tool for a start-to-finish financial plan! ⇐ More than 1,000 investors and advisors use this! New Tool! => Track your mutual funds and stock investments with this Google Sheet!Follow Freefincal on Google NewsSubscribe to the freefincal Youtube Channel.Follow freefincal on WhatsApp Podcast: Let’s Get RICH With PATTU! Every single Indian CAN grow their wealth! Listen to the Let’s Get Rich with Pattu Podcast You can watch podcast episodes on the OfSpin Media Friends YouTube Channel.Let’s Get RICH With PATTU podcast on YouTube.Do you have a comment about the above article? Reach out to us on Twitter: @freefincal or @pattufreefincalHave a question? Subscribe to our newsletter with the form below.Hit ‘reply’ to any email from us! We do not offer personalized investment advice. We can write a detailed article without mentioning your name if you have a generic question. Join over 32,000 readers and get free money management solutions delivered to your inbox! Subscribe to get posts via email! Explore the site! Search among our 2000+ articles for information and insight!About The Author Dr. M. Pattabiraman(PhD) is the founder, managing editor and primary author of freefincal. He is an associate professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. He has over ten years of experience publishing news analysis, research and financial product development. Connect with him via Twitter, Linkedin, or YouTube. Pattabiraman has co-authored three print books: (1) You can be rich too with goal-based investing (CNBC TV18) for DIY investors. (2) Gamechanger for young earners. (3) Chinchu Gets a Superpower! for kids. He has also written seven other free e-books on various money management topics. He is a patron and co-founder of “Fee-only India,” an organisation promoting unbiased, commission-free investment advice. Our flagship course! Learn to manage your portfolio like a pro to achieve your goals regardless of market conditions! ⇐ More than 3,000 investors and advisors are part of our exclusive community! Get clarity on how to plan for your goals and achieve the necessary corpus no matter what the market condition is!! Watch the first lecture for free!  One-time payment! No recurring fees! Life-long access to videos! Reduce fear, uncertainty and doubt while investing! Learn how to plan for your goals before and after retirement with confidence. Our new course!  Increase your income by getting people to pay for your skills! ⇐ More than 700 salaried employees, entrepreneurs and financial advisors are part of our exclusive community! Learn how to get people to pay for your skills! Whether you are a professional or small business owner who wants more clients via online visibility or a salaried person wanting a side income or passive income, we will show you how to achieve this by showcasing your skills and building a community that trusts you and pays you! (watch 1st lecture for free). One-time payment! No recurring fees! Life-long access to videos!    Our new book for kids: “Chinchu gets a superpower!” is now available!Both the boy and girl version covers of Chinchu gets a superpower. Most investor problems can be traced to a lack of informed decision-making. We have all made bad decisions and money mistakes when we started earning and spent years undoing these mistakes. Why should our children go through the same pain? What is this book about? As parents, what would it be if we had to groom one ability in our children that is key not only to money management and investing but to any aspect of life? My answer: Sound Decision Making. So in this book, we meet Chinchu, who is about to turn 10. What he wants for his birthday and how his parents plan for it and teach him several key ideas of decision-making and money management is the narrative. What readers say!Feedback from a young reader after reading Chinchu gets a Superpower!Must-read book even for adults! This is something that every parent should teach their kids right from their young age. The importance of money management and decision making based on their wants and needs. Very nicely written in simple terms. – Arun. Buy the book: Chinchu gets a superpower for your child! How to profit from content writing: Our new ebook is for those interested in getting side income via content writing. It is available at a 50% discount for Rs. 500 only! Want to check if the market is overvalued or undervalued? Use our market valuation tool (it will work with any index!), or get the Tactical Buy/Sell timing tool! We publish monthly mutual fund screeners and momentum, low-volatility stock screeners. About freefincal & it’s content policy. Freefincal is a News Media Organization dedicated to providing original analysis, reports, reviews and insights on mutual funds, stocks, investing, retirement and personal finance developments. We do so without conflict of interest and bias. Follow us on Google News. Freefincal serves more than three million readers a year (5 million page views) with articles based only on factual information and detailed analysis by its authors. All statements made will be verified with credible and knowledgeable sources before publication. Freefincal does not publish paid articles, promotions, PR, satire or opinions without data. All opinions will be inferences backed by verifiable, reproducible evidence/data. Contact information: letters {at} freefincal {dot} com (sponsored posts or paid collaborations will not be entertained) Connect with us on social media Our publicationsYou Can Be Rich Too with Goal-Based Investing Published by CNBC TV18, this book is meant to help you ask the right questions and seek the correct answers, and since it comes with nine online calculators, you can also create custom solutions for your lifestyle! Get it now. Gamechanger: Forget Startups, Join Corporate & Still Live the Rich Life You Want This book is meant for young earners to get their basics right from day one! It will also help you travel to exotic places at a low cost! Get it or gift it to a young earner.Your Ultimate Guide to Travel This is an in-depth dive analysis into vacation planning, finding cheap flights, budget accommodation, what to do when travelling, and how travelling slowly is better financially and psychologically, with links to the web pages and hand-holding at every step. Get the pdf for Rs 300 (instant download)  


Recommended For You