Stocks that hedge sustained market downturns should have low expected returns, but they do not. We use ex ante firm characteristics and covariances to construct a tradable safe minus risky (SMR) portfolio that hedges market downturns out of sample. Although downturns (peaks to troughs in market index levels at the business-cycle frequency) predict significant declines in gross domestic product growth, SMR has significant positive average returns and 4-factor alphas (both around 0.8% per month). Risk-based models do not explain SMR’s returns, but mispricing does. Risky stocks are overpriced when sentiment is high, resulting in subsequent returns of -0.9% per month.