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High Minus Low (HML)


High Minus Low (HML) is a strategy used in finance that involves buying stocks that have a high book value (value of a company’s assets) and selling those with a low one. This strategy is typically used by portfolio managers and investors who follow a value investing strategy. The HML value can be a measure of the value or “cheapness” of a company’s stock.


The phonetics of the keyword “High Minus Low (HML)” is: /haɪ mʌɪnəs loʊ/ (H-M-L)

Key Takeaways

  1. HML Represents Value Stocks: High Minus Low (HML), a part of the Fama and French three-factor model, is a strategy that involves buying high book-to-market stocks and selling low book-to-market stocks. Therefore, HML is often used as a proxy for the risk factor that high (value) stocks outperform low (growth) stocks.
  2. HML Measures Relative Performance: HML factors in the historical excess return of Small Minus Big (SMB) companies and the market excess return. This measurement helps to gain insights into the relative performance of companies across different size scales and value dimensions.
  3. HML Helps in Predicting Stock Returns: HML is fundamental in analyzing and predicting future stock returns in the finance industry. It allows investors and analysts to account for possible risk associated with company value. It is widely embraced in finance as one of the critical factors influencing the cross-sectional variation in stock return.


High Minus Low (HML) is a vital term in finance and business because it’s used in the Fama and French three-factor model to estimate the risk or return of investments. This model suggests that three factors, including market risk, the size effect, and the value effect (represented by HML), largely determine the expected returns of a portfolio. HML measures the spread between the returns of companies with a high book-to-market ratio (value stocks) and those with a low one (growth stocks). Understanding HML can therefore help portfolio managers and investors to evaluate the risk associated with value stocks relative to growth stocks, enabling them to make more informed investment decisions.


High Minus Low (HML), also known as the value premium, is an integral part of the Fama and French three-factor model, constructed to analyze and predict stock returns. It represents the spread in returns between companies with high and low book-to-market ratios. A high HML value indicates that value stocks (companies with high book-to-market ratios) are outperforming growth stocks (companies with low book-to-market values), and vice versa when the HML has a low or negative value. It serves as a measure of the excess returns of value stocks over growth stocks and is often used as a risk factor in the Fama and French model.The primary purpose of HML is to appraise the “value” factor in the performance of a particular stock or an overall portfolio. Using HML, investors and portfolio managers can determine the exposure of their holdings to the fluctuations between value and growth stocks. As a result, it helps in devising investment strategies and making informed decisions regarding asset allocation by taking into account the relative performances of value and growth stocks. In other words, the HML helps investors discern the potential risks and returns associated with investing in certain types of stocks.


High Minus Low (HML), also known as the value premium, is a factor in the Fama and French three-factor model. It measures the historic excess returns of value stocks over growth stocks. Here are three real-world examples of how it is applied.1. Stock Selection: Investment companies and fund managers often use the HML factor to analyze and select stocks to include in their portfolios. For instance, if a particular stock has a high HML value, it indicates that the particular stock has provided higher returns in the past in comparison to growth stocks.2. Portfolio Diversification: HML factor is utilized for the diversification of an investment portfolio. If an investor has a portfolio consisting of primarily growth shares (low book-to-market stocks), high HML stocks may be included to increase diversification and potentially enhance return.3. Asset Pricing Models: Particularly in the Fama and French model, HML is one essential factor to determine the expected returns on assets. For instance, in the research or valuation departments of various financial institutions, HML is used as a tool to estimate the worth of an equity or identify overpriced or underpriced securities.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What does High Minus Low (HML) represent?

High Minus Low (HML) is a dimension used in the Fama-French three-factor model to measure the difference in performance between low market cap (small) firms and high market cap (big) firms.

How is the High Minus Low (HML) factor calculated?

HML is calculated by subtracting the return on a portfolio of low book-to-market companies (the growth portfolio) from the return on a portfolio of high book-to-market firms (the value portfolio).

Why is the High Minus Low (HML) factor important in finance?

This factor is important because it highlights the excess returns of companies with high book-to-market ratios over those with low ratios. It is thought that companies with high book-to-market ratios are undervalued and therefore yield higher returns.

In what context is the High Minus Low (HML) factor commonly used?

HML is commonly used in the Fama-French three-factor model, which is a widely used model in finance for assessing stock returns and predicting future returns.

What does a high HML value imply?

A high HML value suggests that ‘value’ stocks (those with high book-to-market ratios) outperformed ‘growth’ stocks (those with low book-to-market ratios) during the specific time period.

Is a high HML value always better?

Not necessarily. While a high HML indicates ‘value’ stocks are doing well, it could also imply a riskier investment as these companies typically come with higher financial distress and bankruptcy risks.

Can the High Minus Low (HML) factor be used for portfolio management?

Yes, the HML factor along with other factors in the Fama-French model can be used by financial analysts and portfolio managers to evaluate the performance and to project future returns of a portfolio.

How often is the HML factor evaluated?

HML is typically calculated and evaluated over a specific time period such as monthly, quarterly, or annually. The exact timeframe depends on the investment strategy and portfolio being managed.

Can all types of companies be assessed using the High Minus Low (HML) factor?

HML is typically applicable to publicly traded companies, as the calculation requires financial data like book value and market cap, which may not be readily available for private firms.

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