Investigating TV personality’s investment advice and market impact

Should today’s individual investor heed the advice of financial bloggers or television personalities? And, what impact do the recommendations of such persons have on the stock market?

To help answer these questions, two Northeastern University professors recently completed a study on the investment advice of Jim Cramer, host of one of CNBC’s most-watched programs, “Mad Money.” The results show that if Cramer were to take his own advice—buying and selling as he recommends to his audience, he wouldn’t fare too poorly. But he wouldn’t become rich, either.

Paul J. Bolster and Emery A. Trahan, professors of finance at Northeastern’s College of Business Administration, examined Cramer’s picks over a two-and-one-half year period between July 2005 and December 2007. They developed and followed a hypothetical stock portfolio based on 1,344 “buy” and 435 “sell” recommendations Cramer made to his viewers.

The hypothetical portfolio returned 31.75 percent, or close to 12.1 percent annually, beating Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index (18.7 percent, or 7.35 percent annually during the same period). However, the researchers explain, when factors such as investment risk are taken into account, the Cramer portfolio performed slightly less well than the market in 2006, and slightly better in 2007.

In addition, the data showed that Cramer’s stock recommendations clearly influence share prices. On average, if he said “buy,” the value of that stock went up by 2 percent on the following day. If he said “sell,” the price fell by 0.7 percent. The positive bump for “buys” tended to reverse over the next 30 days, but the “sells” continued to decline during the same time frame.

“Based on his large and loyal viewership, Jim Cramer is certainly entertaining and mesmerizing to his viewers,” said Bolster and Trahan in their report. However, “the results provide little compelling information that Cramer’s recommendations are extraordinarily good or unusually bad.”

The results of the study were published in The Financial Services Review.