Market observers and pundits may debate that the bull market that started in March 2009 ended during the fourth-quarter swoon of 2018. While there is some debate surrounding the age of the bull market, what cannot be argued is that high-growth funds, stocks and the related exchange-traded funds (ETFs) have easily topped their value counterparts for the better part of the past decade.
That trend is intact this year. As of April 12, the S&P 500 Growth Index is up 17.50% year-to-date, an advantage of 200 basis points over the S&P 500 Value Index. Underscoring the outperformance of high-growth funds over value fare in recent years is this data point: from 2013 through 2018, the S&P 500 Value Index beat its growth rival just once (in 2016) on an annual basis.
While value stocks are getting cheaper relative to historical norms and growth funds are doing the opposite, there are reasons to believe growth funds can maintain their momentum.
“Fears for the economic outlook prompted a dovish pivot by the world’s major central banks in the first quarter,” reports Bloomberg.
“Easier monetary policies punish value stocks because the group includes beaten-up industries like banks, which are more sensitive to rates, while a weaker economy makes it less likely cyclical shares like industrials will catch up. The same environment makes firms that can post reliable profits throughout the business cycle even more attractive.”
Here are some growth funds to consider in the months ahead:
SPDR S&P 500 Growth ETF (SPYG)
Expense ratio: 0.04% per year, or $4 on a $10,000 investment.
The SPDR S&P 500 Growth ETF (NYSEARCA:SPYG) is a basic though cost-effective large-cap growth fund. With an annual fee of just 0.04%, SPYG is not just one of the cheapest growth funds, it is one of the least expensive index funds or ETFs of any variety. SPYG tracks the aforementioned S&P 500 Growth Index, providing exposure to domestic, large-cap growth stocks. Data confirm that investors have been flocking to SPYG this year.
“It’s apparent in the rush of investors trying to get access to growth stocks, a strategy that was pummeled during the fourth-quarter meltdown,” reports Bloomberg. “The $4.54 billion SPDR Portfolio 500 Growth ETF (SPYG) took in nearly $630 million in March — the largest monthly inflow on record for the almost 19-year-old fund.”
SPYG has $4.71 billion in assets under management, of which $1.01 billion has flowed into the fund this year. This is what investors get with this growth fund: combined weight of about 53% to the technology, communication services and consumer discretionary sectors. By comparison, the S&P 500 devotes about 42% of its weight to those sectors.
Invesco S&P MidCap 400 Pure Growth ETF (RFG)
Expense ratio: 0.35%.
Mid-cap growth was one of the first quarter’s most potent factor combinations. The Invesco S&P MidCap 400 Pure Growth ETF (NYSEARCA:RFG) confirms as much with a year-to-date gain of 17.20%. RFG, which turned 13 years old last month, tracks the S&P MidCap 400 Pure Growth Index.
There are some differences between the pure growth indexes and traditional growth benchmarks. In the case of RFG’s underlying index, “growth is measured by the following risk factors: sales growth, earnings change to price and momentum,” according to Invesco.
This growth fund allocates over 51% of its weight to the technology, healthcare and consumer discretionary sectors. RFG’s 88 holdings have an average market capitalization of $5.31 billion, putting the growth fund right in the middle of mid-cap territory.
Invesco S&P SmallCap 600 Pure Growth (RZG)
Expense ratio: 0.35%
The Invesco S&P SmallCap 600 Pure Growth (NYSEARCA:RZG) is the small-cap answer to the mid-cap growth fund mentioned above. In fact, RZG’s underlying index, the S&P SmallCap 600 Pure Growth Index, quantifies growth in the same fashion as its mid-cap counterpart.
Historically, the combination of small-cap stocks and the growth factor is rewarding, though growth funds in this category are usually more value oriented than standard small-cap funds or small-cap value offerings. Over the past three years, RZG’s annualized volatility was 170 basis points higher than the S&P SmallCap 600 Index.
This growth holds 147 stocks, the largest of which garners a weight of 1.79%. RZG devotes nearly 38% of its combined weight to the healthcare and consumer discretionary sectors.
iShares MSCI EAFE Growth ETF (EFG)
Expense ratio: 0.40%
When excluding the U.S. from the equation, the universe of developed markets growth stocks declines significantly in population, but there are still some credible growth opportunities outside the U.S. The iShares MSCI EAFE Growth ETF (BATS:EFG) is a growth fund focusing on developed markets, excluding the U.S. and Canada. EFG follows the MSCI EAFE Growth Index, the growth offshoot of the popular MSCI EAFE Index.
This growth fund features exposure to about 15 countries, but due to it being a growth fund, EFG is heavily allocated to Japan. Japanese stocks represent 23.45% of EFG’s weight, owing to Japan’s robust technology and consumer cyclical sectors. Speaking of sectors, owing to the dearth of ex-U.S. growth stocks, EFG’s largest sector weights are consumer staples and industrials, something investors do not usually see in domestic growth funds.
Another point of interest with EFG is that, over the past three years, this growth fund has not done much to distinguish itself from the MSCI EAFE Index, either in terms of volatility or total returns.
WisdomTree Emerging Markets Consumer Growth Fund (EMCG)
Expense ratio: 0.63%
One of the most tantalizing associated with emerging markets investing is the consumer. Some ETFs, including the WisdomTree Emerging Markets Consumer Growth Fund (NASDAQ:EMCG), focus on that theme. While EMCG can be seen as a growth fund, its holdings feature growth, quality and value traits.
EMCG features exposure to 18 countries with weights ranging from 0.43% to 26.91%. Not surprisingly, China commands that 26.91%, which is meaningful as the world’s second-largest economy continues its efforts to drive more domestic consumption. EMCG’s China exposure is also meaningful because that country is by far the world’s largest online retail market, giving this growth fund plenty of leverage to the global e-commerce boom.
EMCG allocates over 42% of its combined weight to the consumer discretionary and technology sectors. However, because this is a dedicated consumer ETF, not specifically a growth fund, it has a 22.64% allocation to consumer staples names. EMCG is up 15.81% year-to-date, beating the MSCI Emerging Markets Index by almost 230 basis points.
As of this writing, Todd Shriber did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.