With a number of advantages, lower partial moments (LPM) serve as alternatives to variance as measures of portfolio risk. For two specific targets, a separation property holds in the context of mean–LPM portfolio optimization that allows investors to separate the decision about investment proportions among risky assets from the decision about how much to invest in risky versus risk-free assets. For other targets, however, separation is not guaranteed, and this case has not received much attention in the literature. We show in the case of non-separation that investment curves are not common to all optimizing investors, but that they are convex in (mean, LPM) space and their lower envelope is the efficient frontier. We consider the interesting behavior of investment curves and optimal risky portfolios. We also show empirically that an investor who mistakenly assumes separation holds will not experience significant excess portfolio risk in all practical cases.
Non-separation in the mean–lower-partial-moment portfolio optimization problem