Hall (2001a) argues that the value of intangible assets can be inferred from firms’ stock market value and the value of tangible assets, which suggests rational valuation in the market. This paper investigates the relationship between firms’ future stock returns and their inferred intangibles and indirectly tests Hall’s hypothesis by using various trading strategies. It is found that the inferred intangibles have predictive power for stock returns, which might be because of mean‐reverting misvaluation by the stock market; and the way the inferred intangibles predict stock returns is consistent with the three‐factor model of Fama and French (1992). However, I find that the predictive power of inferred intangibles is consistent with market inefficiency, rather than a rational premium for distress risk related to the book‐to‐market equity ratio. Thus the intangible assets hypothesis of Hall does not hold and the discrepancy between market equity and book equity suggests market inefficiency.
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