The Year-End Guru Report: Growth and Momentum Trump Value -- For Now

While 2011 was a tough year for the broader market and value-focused strategies, some growth and momentum approaches fared quite well, according to a new report from and John Reese. (Click here for a PDF copy of the report.)

Two of the top-performing growth-focused approaches in 2011 were Reese’s Momentum Investor strategy and his James O’Shaughnessy-based strategy. A 10-stock portfolio picked using the former surged 20.9% in 2011, while a 10-stock portfolio picked using the latter jumped 13.3%. (The O’Shaughnessy-based model picks some growth and some value stocks, but in 2011 its big winners tended to be from the growth side.) Reese details both strategies in the year-end report, looking at how the approaches work and where they found big winners in 2011.

The report also includes year-by-year performance data for all of Reese’s “Guru Strategies”, each of which is based on the approach of a different investing great. The vast majority of his guru-inspired portfolios finished 2011 far ahead of the broader market since their inceptions, most of which were in 2003.

Reese also looks at some of his value strategies, including his Warren Buffett-based approach. A 10-stock portfolio picked using the strategy returned 10.2% for the year, far outpacing the market. He also says not to expect value strategies as a group to continue to struggle. “History has shown that while fundamentals and value may fall by the wayside for short periods in the stock market, investors always come back to them,” Reese writes. “So while emotion and macroeconomic factors drove the market in 2011, I don’t expect that to last forever, especially as the fundamental position of the market continues to improve. … The combination of attractive valuations, an improving economy, and a corporate sector that has become much more efficient and streamlined in recent years — not to mention a financial sector that is in far better, less risky position than it was a few years ago — bodes well for stocks going forward. Yes, the European debt crisis is scary, and the U.S. has its own debt and deficit troubles to worry about. But with many investors not only fearing but expecting the worst on those fronts, some very bad scenarios are already baked into stock prices. That certainly doesn’t mean that stocks can’t go lower; but it does mean that the downside should be somewhat limited, while the upside should be significant.”