Several people working for the hedge fund AQR Capital Management have a working paper which looks at trend following strategies over about a century. It finds they're generally very profitable, which is surprising, I guess, if you're an EMH nut and simply can't muster the imagination required to believe that markets contain identifiable momentum. From that paper:
As an investment style, trend-following has existed for a very long time. Some 200 years ago, the classical economist David Ricardo’s imperative to “cut short your losses” and “let your profits run on”suggests an attention to trends. A century later, the legendary trader Jesse Livermore stated explicitly that the “big money was not in the individual fluctuations but in... sizing up the entire market and its trend.”The most basic trend-following strategy is time series momentum– going long markets with recent positive returns and shorting those with recent negative returns. Time series momentum has been profitable on average since 1985 for nearly all equity index futures, fixed income futures, commodity futures, and currency forwards.The strategy explains the strong performance of Managed Futures funds from the late 1980s, when fund returns and index data first becomes available. This paper seeks to establish whether the strong performance of trend-following is a statistical fluke of the last few decades or a more robust phenomenon that exists over a wide range of economic conditions. Using historical data from a number of sources, we construct a time series momentum strategy all the way back to 1903 and find that the strategy has been consistently profitable throughout the past 110 years.