Strategy Library

Beta Factors in Stocks


Beta is a statistical measure of a stock's volatility in relation to the market. Stock analysts use this measure to get a sense of stocks' risk profiles. It is also a key component of the capital asset pricing model (CAPM), A stock's price variability is essential to consider when assessing risk. It represents the co-movement instead of the volatility. Therefore, it is possible for a stock to have zero beta and higher volatility than the market.

In the real world, some investors are prohibited from using leverage and other investors’ leverage is limited by margin requirements. Therefore, their only way to achieve higher returns is to buy more risky stocks, which would cause the overvaluation of higher-beta stocks. This behavior suggests that high-beta (risky) stocks should deliver lower risk-adjusted returns than low-beta stocks. In this algorithm, we'll use the leverage to explore the inefficiency of the beta factor.


The investment universe consists of all stocks in Nasdaq and NYSE. We use the Wilshire 5000 Total Market Index which covers all stocks actively traded in the United States.

def Initialize(self):
    self.SetStartDate(2011, 1, 1)
    self.SetEndDate(2018, 9, 1)
    self.UniverseSettings.Resolution = Resolution.Daily
    self.AddEquity("SPY", Resolution.Daily)
    # add Wilshire 5000 Total Market Index data from Dropbox
    self.AddData(Wilshire5000, "W5000", Resolution.Daily)
    self.Schedule.On(self.DateRules.MonthStart("SPY"), self.TimeRules.AfterMarketOpen("SPY"), self.rebalance) = {}
    self.monthly_rebalance = False
    self.long = None
    self.short = None
    self.market_price = deque(maxlen=253)
    hist = self.History(["W5000"], 400, Resolution.Daily)
    for i in hist.loc["W5000"].itertuples():

The formula for calculating beta is the covariance of the return of an asset with the return of the market divided by the variance of the return of the market over a certain period.


We choose the 1-year rolling window as the period in the beta calculation. We created the SymbolData class to update the rolling window of return and the calculation of beta.

  class SymbolData:
      def __init__(self, symbol):
          self.Symbol = symbol
          self.window = RollingWindow[Decimal](2)
          self.returns = deque(maxlen=252)

      def Update(self, price):
          if price != 0:
              if self.window.IsReady:

      def IsReady(self):
          return len(self.returns) == self.returns.maxlen

      def beta(self, market_ret):
          asset_return = np.array(self.returns, dtype=np.float32)
          market_return = np.array(market_ret, dtype=np.float32)
          return np.cov(asset_return, market_return)[0][1]/np.var(market_return)

In CoarseSelectionFunction, we filter the stocks which price is lower than five as they are not active in the market. When the return rolling window is ready, Stocks are then ranked in ascending order on the basis of their estimated beta. The algorithm goes long on five stocks at the bottom beta list and short on five stocks at the top beta list.

  def CoarseSelectionFunction(self, coarse):

      if self.Securities["W5000"].Price is not None:
      for i in coarse:
          if i.Symbol not in
    [i.Symbol] = SymbolData(i.Symbol)

      if self.monthly_rebalance:
          sortedByPrice = [i.Symbol for i in coarse if i.AdjustedPrice>5]
          ready_data = {symbol: data for symbol, data in if symbol in sortedByPrice and data.IsReady()}
          if len(ready_data) > 20:
              self.market_return = np.diff(np.array(self.market_price))/np.array(self.market_price)[:-1]
              # sort the dictionary in ascending order by beta value
              sorted_beta = sorted(ready_data, key = lambda x: ready_data[x].beta(self.market_return))
              self.long = sorted_beta[:5]
              self.short = sorted_beta[-5:]
              return self.long+self.short
              self.monthly_rebalance = False
              return []
          return []

In each portfolio, securities are weighted by the ranked betas. Lower-beta stocks have larger weights in the low-beta portfolio and higher-beta stocks have larger weights in the high-beta portfolio. The portfolios are rebalanced every calendar month.

def OnData(self, data):
      if not self.monthly_rebalance: return
      if self.long is None or self.short is None: return

      long_invested = [x.Key for x in self.Portfolio if x.Value.IsLong]
      short_invested = [x.Key for x in self.Portfolio if x.Value.IsShort]

      for i in long_invested:
          if i not in self.long:

      for i in short_invested:
          if i not in self.short:

      long_scale_factor = 0.5/sum(range(1,len(self.long)+1))
      for rank, symbol in enumerate(self.long):
          self.SetHoldings(symbol, (len(self.long)-rank+1)*long_scale_factor)

      short_scale_factor = 0.5/sum(range(1,len(self.long)+1))
      for rank, symbol in enumerate(self.short):
          self.SetHoldings(symbol, -(rank+1)*short_scale_factor)

      self.monthly_rebalance = False
      self.long = None
      self.short = None


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