It's no secret that value investing has lagged growth investing since the post-financial crisis bull market began, and it's all too predictable that investors would give up on the sector at just the wrong time. Indeed, the team at Morningstar discovered the flow of funds in value funds turned negative toward the end of 2015. Since, the iShares Russell 100 Value ETF (NYSEARCA:IWD) has outperformed the iShares Russell 1000 Growth ETF (NYSEARCA:IWF).
To review, there's plenty of academic research finding value stocks outperform growth over the long term - with the emphasis on long term. Morningstar: "Value exists because there are suckers on the other side of the poker table willing to take the flipside of the value bet."
The bulk of Bank of America Merrill Lynch's 2016 global outlook is a near-perfect extrapolation of current trends and themes - modest economic growth, a slow rise in U.S. rates diverging from other global central banks, commodities and credit under pressure, continued recovery in U.S. housing.
One standout line does interest however, and that's the team's expectation for value to make a comeback versus growth.
The research is fairly ample that value trumps growth, but it hasn't worked out that way for years. As measured by the Vanguard Value ETF (NYSEARCA:VTV) and the Vanguard Growth ETF (NYSEARCA:VUG), growth has trumped value by 690 basis points this year, and more than 2K basis points over the last five years.
It brings to mind another long period of growth beating value - the mid-to-late 1990s (how'd that one work out?).
It may be too late to pick up the "free desert" of higher returns from small caps and value stocks, suggests Larry Swedroe, as their historical outperformance is now common knowledge. In the past few years, markets have quickly bid up the share prices of these names alongside numerous publications and studies proving their superiority as investments. "One of the characteristics of an efficient market is that once an anomaly is discovered, the very act of exploiting it will cause it to rapidly shrink and eventually disappear."
Maybe sensing the moderate early-2014 selloff is done with, investors poured $13.4B into equities in the latest week, according to BAML - the strongest in 12 weeks and bringing YTD equity asset-gathering back to flat.
Emphasizing the risk appetite theme, flows into high-yield bonds of $2.4B were the highest in 17 weeks, and money-market funds saw outflows of $40.45B after receiving inflows of $11.55B the previous week.
Still, emerging market debt and equity continues to be sold. In fact, outflows from EM equities over the past four weeks have risen to 2.2% of AUM - just shy of the 3% level which signals a contrarian "buy" signal, says BAML.
Turning into a pretty good contrarian signal himself, is Hugh Hendry, who dropped his multi-year caution in December to get "long pretty much anything." His Eclectica Fund subsequently lost 3.6% in January - its worst monthly tally ever.