A semantic Bayesian network for automated share evaluation on the JSE

Master Thesis


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Advances in information technology have presented the potential to automate investment decision making processes. This will alleviate the need for manual analysis and reduce the subjective nature of investment decision making. However, there are different investment approaches and perspectives for investing which makes acquiring and representing expert knowledge for share evaluation challenging. Current decision models often do not reflect the real investment decision making process used by the broader investment community or may not be well-grounded in established investment theory. This research investigates the efficacy of using ontologies and Bayesian networks for automating share evaluation on the JSE. The knowledge acquired from an analysis of the investment domain and the decision-making process for a value investing approach was represented in an ontology. A Bayesian network was constructed based on the concepts outlined in the ontology for automatic share evaluation. The Bayesian network allows decision makers to predict future share performance and provides an investment recommendation for a specific share. The decision model was designed, refined and evaluated through an analysis of the literature on value investing theory and consultation with expert investment professionals. The performance of the decision model was validated through back testing and measured using return and risk-adjusted return measures. The model was found to provide superior returns and risk-adjusted returns for the evaluation period from 2012 to 2018 when compared to selected benchmark indices of the JSE. The result is a concrete share evaluation model grounded in investing theory and validated by investment experts that may be employed, with small modifications, in the field of value investing to identify shares with a higher probability of positive risk-adjusted returns.