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Beta-sorted portfolios—portfolios comprised of assets with similar covariation to selected risk factors—are a popular tool in empirical finance to analyze models of (conditional) expected returns. Despite their widespread use, little is known of their statistical properties in contrast to comparable procedures such as two-pass regressions. We formally investigate the properties of beta-sorted portfolio returns by casting the procedure as a two-step nonparametric estimator with a nonparametric first step and a beta-adaptive portfolios construction. Our framework rationalizes the well-known ...