This paper documents that systematic volatility risk is an important factor that drives the value premium observed in the French stock market. Using returns on at-the-money straddles written on the CAC 40 index as a proxy for systematic volatility risk, I document significant differences between volatility factor loadings of value and growth stocks. Furthermore, when markets are classified into expected booms and recessions, volatility factor loadings are also time-varying. When expected market risk premium is above its average, i.e. during expected recessions, value stocks are seen riskier than their growth counterparts. This implies in bad times, investors shift their preferences away from value firms. Instead they use growth stocks as hedges against deteriorations in their wealth during those times. The findings are in line with the predictions of rational asset pricing theory and support a “flight-to-quality” explanation.
Volatility risk and the value premium: Evidence from the French stock market