Value ETFs Can Keep Bringing...Well...Value to Investors

Value is beginning to lose ground to its growth counterpart. Again. Yet long-term investors should keep in mind that value exchange traded funds continue to provide the markets with cheap opportunities, especially in a time when U.S. equities are breaking out to record highs.

Cliff Asness, the godfather of quant investing and co-founder of AQR Capital Management, argued that wide valuation spreads between the priciest and cheapest equities still highlight the benefits of the value trade, Bloomberg reports.

“Current value spreads – call them at record levels,” Asness, said on a recent webinar, adding that the difference has been inflated by ever-higher prices for growth stocks. “When it walks like a bubble and quacks like a bubble, we’ll eventually say it’s a bubble.”

Asness pointed out that even after this year’s gains in the value style, spreads remain wide. Meanwhile, analyst projections for the cheaper segments’ earnings growth aren’t unusually low relative to growth shares.

“There’s no indication that the market is saying ‘sure, valuations may be radically different today, but it’s justified by the difference in earnings growth we expect,’” Asness added. “We’re excited about performance, but nothing goes in a straight line.”

ETF investors interested in a targeted approach to the value segment can look to the American Century STOXX U.S. Quality Value ETF (NYSEArca: VALQ). VALQ’s stock selection process includes a value score based on value, earnings yield, and cash flow yield, along with a sustainable income score based on dividend yield, dividend growth, and dividend coverage.

The American Century Focused Large Cap Value ETF (FLV) tries to achieve long-term returns through an investment process that seeks to identify value and minimize volatility. FLV holdings and value stocks usually trade at lower prices relative to fundamental measures of value, like earnings and the book value of assets.

Lastly, the Avantis U.S. Small Cap Value ETF (AVUV), an actively managed ETF, seeks long-term capital appreciation. The fund invests primarily in U.S. small cap companies and is designed to increase expected returns by focusing on firms trading at what are believed to be low valuations with higher profitability ratios.

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