Hulbert: Value Should Return -- Big Time

Growth stocks have been outperforming value stocks for several years now. But if history is any guide, it may be time to tilt not toward those outperforming growth stocks, but instead toward value.

So says Mark Hulbert in a recent Barron’s piece. Hulbert says that over the past 86 years, value stocks (represented by an annually rebalanced portfolio of stocks with the lowest price/book ratios) have outperformed growth stocks (represented by an annually rebalanced portfolio of stocks with the highest price/book ratios) by nearly 4 percentage points per year (citing data from Eugene Fama and Kenneth French). In the past five years through March 30, however, value stocks have lagged growth stocks by nearly 5 percentage points per year. “For that reason,” Hulbert says, “it’s time to expect that the worm will turn and value will re-emerge as the more lucrative investment style.”

Hulbert says that it has been “very rare indeed for value to lag growth for as long as it has recently.” And, he says, “on those few past occasions when value was as big a laggard, it soon produced huge relative returns.” He offers some data from the early 1940s and early 2000s — each of which followed periods when growth outperformed value for several years — as evidence of just how big the snap-back tends to be. “This just goes to show that focusing on the right investment style can be just as important, if not more so, than general stock-market timing,” he writes.