Value ETFs Have All Of The Momentum That Growth ETF Investors Crave

Includes: IWD, IWF, IWN, IWO, IWP, IWS
by: Gary Gordon

Ten short weeks ago, financial journalists celebrated a growth stock renaissance in 2012, applauding the super-sized gains for growth funds and downplaying the performance of value-oriented counterparts. Year-to-date (through 10/1), large-company growth mutual funds had amassed 17.1%, whereas large-cap value mutual funds had picked up 14.3%.

John Wagoner of USA Today explained that the lag had to do with the remarkable upside in Apple. The author also noted, albeit briefly, that the gap between growth and value had narrowed considerably in the third quarter. Astute readers would have been wise to recognize that such a narrowing was evidence of a style shift.

Not surprisingly, fiscal cliff fears and Apple’s -25% drawdown contributed to an ongoing migration to “Value Stock ETFs.” So much so, in fact, that the value style for all market capitalization levels (i.e., large company, mid-sized company, small company) beat the growth style at all market capitalization levels over the past 1, 3 and 6 months.

Growth ETFs Versus Value ETFs: Which Group Really Has The Momentum?
1 Mo % 3 Mo % 6 Mo %
Vanguard Small Value (NYSEARCA:VBR) 7.0% 1.3% 11.3%
Vanguard Small Cap (NYSEARCA:VB) 6.5% 0.4% 10.1%
Vanguard Small Growth (NYSEARCA:VBK) 6.2% -0.5% 8.9%
Vanguard Mid Value (NYSEARCA:VOE) 5.3% 2.0% 10.5%
Vanguard Mid Cap (NYSEARCA:VO) 5.2% 1.2% 8.6%
Vanguard Mid Cap Growth (NYSEARCA:VOT) 5.0% 0.5% 6.7%
Vanguard Large Value (NYSEARCA:VTV) 4.6% 0.7% 8.2%
Vanguard Large Cap (NYSEARCA:VV) 3.9% -0.8% 7.1%
Vanguard Large Growth (NYSEARCA:VUG) 3.2% -2.3% 6.0%

A key takeaway here is, for all the concerns about the cliff’s adverse impact on dividend stocks, tax-gain harvesters went after their biggest capital appreciators (e.g., Apple, etc.) with an equal amount of ardor. It seems that, in the end, slower-growing dividend yielders still provide a measure of safety in volatile markets; value trumps growth during squeamish bulls.

Even if you’d rather look at the year in aggregate, rather than over the last six months, value is still on top. Bill Maurer looked at the year-to-date performance (through 12/17) of iShares ETFs. iShares Russell 1000 Value (NYSEARCA:IWD) outperformed iShares Russell 1000 Growth (NYSEARCA:IWF), iShares Russell Midcap Value (NYSEARCA:IWS) outhustled iShares Ruselll Midcap Growth (NYSEARCA:IWP) and iShares Russell 2000 Value (NYSEARCA:IWN) beat iShares Russell 2000 Growth (NYSEARCA:IWO).

Granted, when tilting a portfolio one way or another — big, small, value, growth, high beta, low beta — the move must be made when the trend is in its early stages of development. It follows that what has already transpired may not be indicative of what will transpire in the weeks and months ahead.

One method for determining significant changes in relative strength is to check price ratios. A rising IWD:IWF price ratio tells me that the trend favoring value is still intact. Moreover, as long as IWD:IWF remains above an intermediate-term moving average like the 100-day, I am favoring dividend and value producers.

Disclosure: Gary Gordon, MS, CFP is the president of Pacific Park Financial, Inc., a Registered Investment Adviser with the SEC. Gary Gordon, Pacific Park Financial, Inc, and/or its clients may hold positions in the ETFs, mutual funds, and/or any investment asset mentioned above. The commentary does not constitute individualized investment advice. The opinions offered herein are not personalized recommendations to buy, sell or hold securities. At times, issuers of exchange-traded products compensate Pacific Park Financial, Inc. or its subsidiaries for advertising at the ETF Expert web site. ETF Expert content is created independently of any advertising relationships.