Looking For Value in Value ETFs

Conventional wisdom dictates that, over the long-term, value stocks outperform. Well, the length of the current bull market in U.S. stocks qualifies as “long-term,” and for much of this move higher, value stocks have been trailing their growth counterparts.

That trend is continuing this year. The iShares S&P 500 Value ETF (NYSEArca: IVE) is higher by less than 1% while the S&P 500 is higher by more than 6%.

Value stocks usually trade at lower prices relative to fundamental measures of value, like earnings and the book value of assets. On the other hand, growth-oriented stocks tend to run at higher valuations since investors expect the rapid growth in those company measures, but more are growing wary of high valuations.

“The view that value looks cheap has become axiomatic; when value will actually start outperforming has been much harder to predict. Despite offering historically low valuations, at least relative to growth, value continues to lag. Year-to-date the Russell 1000 Growth Index has outperformed the Russell 1000 Value by over 11%,” according to BlackRock.

Other Value Plays

Popular value ETFs include the iShares MSCI USA Value Factor ETF (Cboe: VLUE). VLUE “seeks to track the performance of an index that measures the performance of U.S. large- and mid-capitalization stocks with value characteristics and relatively lower valuations, before fees and expenses,” according to iShares.

VLUE is outperforming the aforementioned IVE this year, but VLUE is also trailing the S&P 500 by nearly 300 basis points. VLUE, which tracks the MSCI USA Enhanced Value Index, allocates about 40% of its combined weight to technology and healthcare stocks.