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Keywords:

  • leverage;
  • capital structure;
  • stock returns;
  • industry;
  • investment strategy;
  • risk;
  • size

ABSTRACT

We use an investment strategy based on firm-level capital structures. Investing in low-leverage firms yields abnormal returns of 4.43% per annum. If an investor holds a portfolio of low-leverage and low-market-to-book-ratio firms, abnormal returns increase to 16.18% per annum. A portfolio of low leverage and low market risk yields abnormal returns of 6.67% and a portfolio of small firms with low leverage earns 5.37% per annum. We use the Fama-Macbeth (1973) methodology with modifications. We confirm that portfolios based on low leverage earn higher returns in longer investment horizons. Our results are robust to other risk factors and the risk class of the firm. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.