After trawling through the stats on the many, many backtests that everyone in the community has developed, we at Quantopian have determined that a new series of template algorithms is warranted. We have the benefit of looking at community activity cross-sectionally and we have seen that there is a lot of strong development work on technical signals (mean reversal and momentum chiefly). Unsurprisingly, there are many fewer algorithms that have tapped into fundamental signals for their sources of predictive power. This algo is a great starting point for anyone looking to incorporate fundamentals-driven signals into their repertoire.
Cash flow volatility is a fairly well studied metric that is often considered a proxy for uncertainty at a firm level. In this template algorithm we've extended that idea to see if firms with relatively more volatile capital expenditures (e.g. spending on things like new buildings, plants, equipment, etc) are also more unpredictable and, by extension, riskier and more likely to underperform firms with lower relative capex volatility. For a bit more academic detail take a look at this SSRN paper.
As we look to expand the set of algorithms receiving allocations over the next few months we expect to give preference to new ideas that take advantage of a broader range of fundamental factors.
To get started, clone this algorithm, improve it with your own ideas, and submit it to the Quantopian Daily Contest.
N.B. As implemented here, this algo doesn't fully meet all of the criteria for entry in the daily contest so we're leaving that as an "exercise for the reader".