Investors have piled into small-cap exchange traded funds, chasing the stronger returns in smaller company stocks as large-cap benchmarks plod along.
So far this month, the iShares Russell 2000 ETF (NYSEArca: IWM) has attracted $3.3 billion in net asset inflows and the Vanguard Small Cap ETF (NYSEArca: VB) added $1.2 billion in net inflows, according to ETF.com.
Investors have been shifting into small-caps as the asset category outperformed larger stocks. Over the past month, IWM increased 2.3% and VB rose 2.0%. The benchmark Russell 2000 index also touched a record high Thursday. Meanwhile, the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSEArca: SPY) dipped 0.2% over the past month.
“The small caps are all about growth,” Dennis Davitt of Harvest Volatility Advisors said on CNBC. “People are realizing that the Fed is more dovish than they had originally thought. … If you continue to have those low interest rates, U.S.-specific growth stocks are the way to go, and they all live in the Russell 2000.”
For instance, the iShares Russell 2000 Growth ETF (NYSEArca: IWO), which targets small-cap growth stocks taken from the Russell 2000, has outperformed the broader IWM, rising 3.3% over the past month.
If the U.S. economy continues to expand, smaller companies may continue to outperform. In contrast, large-cap benchmarks, like the S&P 500, include more slow-growing multinationals, which may have seen weakened overseas revenue streams after the U.S. dollar strengthened.
Gina Sanchez of Chantico Global also argues that volatility overseas may also support, or at least weigh less on, small-caps at home.
“Anything that happens globally, like what happens in Greece, is not going to be reflected in the small caps, which makes them attractive relative to global stocks,” Sanchez said.