Small and Passive is Better in Money Management

A recent S&P report offers deep-dive analysis into mutual fund performance over the past year versus various benchmarks, according to a Bloomberg article by columnist Barry Ritholtz.

“Growth stocks are trouncing value,” Ritholtz writes. “Small caps are beating large. And more professional managers are beating their benchmarks now than a year earlier.”

Here are some highlights of the findings:

  • For investors in U.S. equity markets, small-cap stocks showed the strongest performance, gaining 20.5 percent, followed by large and mid-caps, which gained 14.4 percent and 13.5 percent, respectively.
  • Growth has outperformed value for the past decade.
  • Earnings gains explain some of the advantage of growth over value.
  • Performance advantages depend on the time frame. “The advantages for growth since the 2009 lows owe to the rapid recovery from that bottom and the long rally since then.”
  • The overall percentage of active funds that outperformed their benchmarks rose from 36.6 percent to 42 percent.

The article notes that the longer the time period examined, the “worse things look,” reporting that at 10 years and 15 years, active management performance is significantly weaker.

“The conclusion is as unsurprising as it is inescapable,” Ritholz writes. “For the vast majority of investors, inexpensive indexes are a superior bet to expensive actively managed funds.”