In this study we provide an overview of common quality definitions that are currently used in the industry and those used in academic studies, and we outline the differences between these definitions. We show that there is a large dispersion in the definitions that are used for the quality factor with ‘industry’ definitions ranging from return-on-equity and profit margins to leverage and earnings variability, and ‘academic’ definitions such as operating accruals, net stock issues, and gross profitability. We document large performance differences between the different quality definitions. While ‘academic’ definitions for quality all seem to have significant predictive power for stock returns above and beyond common factors, we do not find significant predictive power for individual ‘industry’ definitions. Our results have important implications for the design of investment vehicles that provide investors exposure to the quality factor.

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Erasmus University Rotterdam

Kyosev, G., Hanauer, M., Huij, J., & Lansdorp, S. (2016). Quality Investing – Industry versus Academic Definitions. Retrieved from