What Is a Market Anomaly?

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  • Written By: Geri Terzo
  • Edited By: PJP Schroeder
  • Last Modified Date: 21 August 2019
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A market anomaly is essentially an opportunity for investors to profit based on the value of stocks in the financial markets. It is a theory that suggests financial securities, such as stocks, could be undervalued, and therefore, investors could capitalize on buying cheap shares. On the other hand, investors can profit from selling stocks that are priced more than the securities are actually worth. A market anomaly, which may also be referred to as a market inefficiency, is a disruption in another market theory that is referred to as an efficient market hypothesis.

In order to understand the occurrence of a market anomaly, it is necessary to comprehend the factors behind an efficient market. This is because an inefficiency is an aberration in an efficient market. In an efficient market, stock prices reflect the true value of a financial security.

According to the efficient market theory, all of the relevant information that can influence the worth of a stock has been taken into account and is reflected in the current price. It suggests that investors cannot eventually profit from identifying stocks that are undervalued because unknown conditions simply do not exist. Similarly, stocks cannot attain a value that is greater than what the securities are worth based on what's known. The market anomaly is introduced when the premise behind an efficient market is seemingly violated.


It is only possible to recognize a market anomaly after the conditions have occurred. Analysts may study past stock market performance to test whether or not the theory of a market inefficiency holds true. A sufficient amount of time following the inefficiency must elapse for the occurrence to be properly tested.

Market anomalies could unfold in specific categories of stocks. For instance, conditions in stocks worth a certain market capitalization, or market cap, which is a measure of the value of a company in the stock market, could exhibit signs of an aberration to an efficient market. One way this anomaly could be spotted is if trading activity in a group of stocks, for instance small cap stocks, outperforms expectations established by analysts or economists in an efficient market.

Timing may also play into the emergence of what appears to be a market anomaly. Investors sometimes make buying and selling decisions in the stock market based on factors outside of financial conditions. For instance, selling activity must be robust at year's end as investors attempt to realize tax benefits. The trend in this particular group of stocks may have little to do with market inefficiencies.


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