Article first published online: 18th April 2012 DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-6261.1997.tb03808.x
Using a sample free of survivor bias, I demonstrate that common factors in stock returns and investment expenses almost completely explain persistence in equity mutual funds' mean and risk‐adjusted returns. Hendricks, Patel and Zeckhauser's (1993) “hot hands” result is mostly driven by the one‐year momentum effect of Jegadeesh and Titman (1993), but individual funds do not earn higher returns from following the momentum strategy in stocks. The only significant persistence not explained is concentrated in strong underperformance by the worst‐return mutual funds. The results do not support the existence of skilled or informed mutual fund portfolio managers.