Forever growth?

Growth stocks have been crushing value stocks over the last several years, by:

  • 6.3% year-to-date
  • 7.1% over the last year
  • 3.8% annually over the last 3 years
  • 5.5% per annum over the last 5 years

Such a strong run leads many investors to question if growth has formed a permanent advantage over value.  

Briefly, the answer is no.

Over the short to intermediate term, it’s quite normal for growth or value to out-perform for a time. But, these periods always end. Just looking back over the last 10 years, value beat growth by 1.1% annualized (even including the last 5 years of dramatic out-performance of growth over value). Over the last 80 years, the data are even more compelling: value has out-performed by over 3% a year.

What gives? Basically, investors tend to herd. They run in one direction for a while, take that too far, and then reverse direction. Value, after under-performing for 5 years, goes on to crush growth for the next 5 years. And then, following that, growth goes on to crush value for the next 5 years. Rinse and repeat. (It’s not always 5 years at a time–sometimes it’s 1.5 years, sometime 3, 5, 7, or even 10.)

Just like night follows day, growth and value go in and out of favor only to see that reversed time and again. Smart investors look to benefit from this regression to the mean by examining 20 years of results instead of the last 3 or 5 years. You can’t time the reversals, so don’t try. ¬†Instead, bet on the long-run winning hand, and over time you’ll do very well.

You can well imagine that Apple’s outstanding growth and performance has greatly contributed to the excellent run of growth stocks over the last decade. Apple now accounts for 4% of U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 4.4% of the value of the S&P 500. ¬†

Even if Apple starts producing oil, cars, food, and all the other things in the economy (highly unlikely), its growth will eventually regress to the 3% growth of the underlying economy. When that happens, and it’s likely sooner than most think, Apple’s growth stock tailwind will turn into a headwind, and value will come back into favor.

I have no idea when this will happen, but I do know growth’s out-performance will end and value’s out-performance will re-emerge. In the meantime, I’ve positioned myself to benefit from long-run, time-tested investing wisdom instead of trying to play the short-run, unreliable trends of the moment. Over time, that is the winning hand.

Nothing in this blog should be considered investment, financial, tax, or legal advice. The opinions, estimates and projections contained herein are subject to change without notice. Information throughout this blog has been obtained from sources believed to be accurate and reliable, but such accuracy cannot be guaranteed.

Forever growth?