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?).
From the intraday low on Aug. 24, the fifty stocks in the S&P 500 with the largest short interest are up just an average of 1%, according to Bespoke Investment Group. That's against an average gain of 8% for the other 450 members of that index.
This bucks the trend of heavily-shorted names leading broader rallies, says the group.
Also usually leading are smaller-cap names, but not this time - the 50 largest S&P 500 stocks are up an average of 11% vs. just 3.9% for the other 450.
In divergence number three (although this could be a corollary to the first one), the most beaten down names usually bounce the most out of a correction, but the worst performers in the market selloff are continuing to lag in the rally.
The rebound in value stocks since dropping to their lowest relative pricing to growth stocks since April 2009 has Dubravko Lakos-Bujas - JPMorgan's chief U.S. equity strategist - cautious on the group.
The time to rotate isn't quite right he says, noting 1) the chance of a rate hike in December, and 2) that the "reflation trade" benefitting value names fails to develop.
What to buy? Housing-related companies and energy producers able to weather lower oil prices.
The Direxion Value Line Mid- and Large-Cap High Dividend ETF (NYSEARCA:VLML) and the Direxion Value Line Small- and Mid-Cap High Dividend ETF (NYSEARCA:VLSM) both use a modified equal-weighting approach and target companies paying “above average” dividends in their selected market caps.
The Direxion Value Line Conservative Equity ETF (NYSEARCA:VLLV) will track a basket of funds with a strong Safety Ranking, created by Value Line to measure how a stock is likely to weather a market downturn.
As CIO of BMO Private Bank, Jack Ablin has recommended an overweight position in large-cap U.S.stocks since 2010. BMO is currently 50% overweight the U.S., but is getting ready to sell.
"We're going to go from substantially overweighting the U.S. to neutral to underweight,” Ablin tells Howard Gold. "This is a major policy decision ... Over the next three to five years the U.S. is going to take a back seat to international markets.”
His reasoning: U.S. stocks are too expensive, and while companies are beating Q4 estimates, analysts have sharply cut 2015 earnings growth forecasts to 2.6% from 8.1% as recently as late last year.
"Relative to the past 50 years, this stock market has been abandoned and orphaned even as it had made participants wealthy," writes Bill Smead, drawing on a Howard Gold report showing only 37.7% of global investable assets were in equity at the end of 2012, the lowest since 1959 when records first began being kept.
Why? The mass movement to fixed income, the trendy move towards wide-asset allocation at the expense of plain-vanilla large-cap U.S. equities, the rise of alternative investing, and the echo-boomers - born between 1977 and 1996 - have been much slower to get married, have kids, buy houses, and invest in stocks than previous generations.
Smead's prediction: As rates rise over the next 10 years, fixed-income will sour and equity dividend payout ratios will normalize. Further returns from commodities and other esoteric asset classes won't match their once-in-a-lifetime moves from 1999-2012 and investors will lose interest. Rising rates will make LBOs less economic and private equity returns will decline.
"The lack of affection for US large cap equities will mute declines and reward patient long-duration owners of quality common stocks."