Equity Dispersion – A Birds Eye View

BNP Paribas QIS Lab releases a new white paper on equity dispersion


In today’s fast-paced and volatile financial markets, understanding the complex dynamics of dispersion can help investors make informed decisions and optimise their portfolios. A new white paper, ‘Equity Dispersion – A Birds Eye View’ released by  BNP Paribas QIS Lab, provides a comprehensive framework for analysing dispersion trends and offers practical insights for investors.

It sheds light on why dispersion matters and reveals that it is a key leading indicator for future market returns. The complex relationship between dispersion and market volatility are considered, together with a risk-based explanation for the dispersion premium in financial markets. The report provides an in-depth analysis of the sources of dispersion, potential applications and its implications for investment strategies. The relationship between dispersion, market changes, risk aversion, and systemic risk is also explored.

A number of findings have emerged and the report:

  • Discusses dispersion and the variation in returns among different stocks and how it could work alongside conventional market themes.  
  • Investigates the micro and macro drivers of realised dispersion in the US stock market and how they can lead to higher returns.
  • Helps investors understand the level of risk and diversification in portfolios.
  • Reveals risk hotspots and the impact of tail risk, or extreme events, on financial returns, when alternative tail-risk measures should be used, how dispersion increases during periods of market stress and how volatility fluctuations can defy your expectations.
  • Examines ways to access dispersion and the expectation of premiums remaining positive in the future.

In summary, it is suggested that dispersion strategies should be incorporated into portfolios, particularly during periods of rising markets, to help identify opportunities and manage risk. Investors should stay informed about ongoing research, utilise tools such as Extreme Value Theory (which anticipates the impact of unforeseen events), and understand the sources of dispersion and how it varies across sectors and over the business cycle. They can then potentially capitalise on the opportunities presented by this often-overlooked market tool and improve their risk-adjusted returns and enhance their overall investment outcomes.

For more information or to request the paper, please contact the authors Julien Turc and Jérôme Gava.