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Forget Growth, Bet on Value ETFs in 2019

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The Wall Street staged a comeback this year on robust December job data and Powell’s dovish comment. Notably, the American economy added higher-than-expected 312,000 jobs in December — the biggest gain in 10 months — while unemployment jumped to 3.9%, the highest rate since August (read: 9 Leveraged ETFs That Soared More Than 25% to Start 2019).

Signs of progress in U.S.-China trade talks as well as hopes of more stimulus for China's economy also boosted demand for riskier assets. Additionally, Fed minutes, which indicated caution on future interest rate hikes, helped to boost sentiments.

Against the bullish backdrop, growth investing gained prominence with iShares Russell 1000 Growth ETF (IWF - Free Report) rising 5.6% compared with gain of 5.2% for its value counterpart, iShares Russell 1000 Value ETF (IWD - Free Report) . The thin margin outperformance of the growth ETF suggests that the trend might reverse soon given the myriad woes.  

This is especially true given that uncertainty over the U.S.-China trade deal, global growth concerns and Brexit issues are the biggest overhang for the stock bulls. Additionally, growth in the world’s biggest economy has been slowing down as gauges of manufacturing and consumer sentiment have fallen in the recent weeks. In particular, U.S. manufacturing activity slowed sharply in December to a two-year low due to a plunge in new orders and hiring at factories.

With the government shutdown now in its fourth week (the longest ever) and 800,000 federal workers on furlough, the risk of recession has increased significantly. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg put the risk of a U.S. recession at the highest in more than six years. They see a 25% chance of a slump in the next 12 months, up from 20% in the December survey (read: Prolonged Shutdown Raises Recession Risk: ETFs to Consider).

Further, the World Bank has cut global growth forecast to 2.9% for this year from the previous projection of 3%, citing rising trade tension, weakening manufacturing activity and growing financial stress in emerging-market countries. If these weren’t enough, a Bloomberg report revealed that investors have shifted from the bullish bets to ETFs that profit when markets tumble.

Growth Vs. Value

Growth stocks refer to high-quality stocks that are likely to witness revenues and earnings increase at a faster rate than the industry average. These stocks harness their momentum in earnings to create a positive bias in the market, resulting in higher share prices. As such, growth funds tend to outperform during an uptrend. However, these stocks have comparatively higher P/B, P/S and P/E ratios and exhibit a higher degree of volatility especially compared to value stocks.

Value stocks have strong fundamentals — earnings, dividends, book value and cash flow — that trade below their intrinsic value and are undervalued by the market. These seek to capitalize on inefficiencies in the market and have the potential to deliver higher returns with lower volatility compared with growth and blend counterparts. Additionally, value stocks are less susceptible to trending markets and their dividend payments serve as safety in times of market turbulence. Notably, these stocks outperform the growth ones across all asset classes when considered on a long-term investment horizon (read: Is 2019 a Year for Value ETFs?).

Value ETFs to Win

Given the series of challenges that the stock market is expected to go through this year, value investing seems a good choice. As such, we have highlighted some solid popular picks having a top Zacks ETF Rank #1 (Strong Buy) with a Medium risk outlook:

Vanguard Value ETF (VTV - Free Report)

This fund seeks to track the CRSP US Large Cap Value Index, which measures the performance of the largest U.S. value stocks.

Expense Ratio: 0.05%
AUM: $43.4 billion
No. of Holdings: 344    
YTD Return: 4.7%    

iShares S&P 500 Value ETF (IVE - Free Report)

This ETF offers exposure to large U.S. companies that are potentially undervalued relative to comparable companies and follows the S&P 500 Value Index.

Expense Ratio: 0.18%
AUM: $14.7 billion
No. of Holdings: 384
YTD Return: 5.4%    

Schwab U.S. Large-Cap Value ETF (SCHV - Free Report)

This fund tracks the Dow Jones U.S. Large-Cap Value Total Stock Market Index (read: Top Ranked Value ETFs for Long Term Investors).

Expense Ratio: 0.04%
AUM: $5.2 billion
No. of Holdings: 351
YTD Return: 4.8%

iShares Edge MSCI USA Value Factor ETF (VLUE - Free Report)

This fund offers exposure to large and mid-cap U.S. stocks with lower valuations based on fundamentals by tracking the MSCI USA Enhanced Value Index.

Expense Ratio: 0.15%
AUM: $3.4 billion
No. of Holdings: 147
YTD Return: 7%

SPDR S&P 500 Value ETF (SPYV - Free Report)

This ETF tracks the S&P 500 Pure Value Index, which comprises stocks that exhibit the strongest value characteristics based on book value to price ratio; earnings to price ratio; and sales to price ratio.

Expense Ratio: 0.04%
AUM: $2.4 billion
No. of Holdings: 384
YTD Return: 5.4%

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