Value Investors Face Existential Crisis

Many investors have “drifted away from the hallmark of value investing championed by the likes of Benjamin Graham and Warren Buffett: actively picking stocks the market has overlooked.” This according to a recent Wall Street Journal article.

Some critics say that the metrics typically used to identify value stocks have not held up in the market’s nine-year bull run—which has been punctuated by passive investing strategies and tech growth—and these trends have “pushed more investors into the shares of fast-growing companies”.

The article quotes Oppenheimer portfolio manager Laton Spahr, who said, “It’s hard to pinpoint what value investing is today, and that is the hard thing to making it relevant to retail clients again.” According to the article, some value investors are justifying buying more growth stocks like Amazon and Netflix by arguing that they are still undervalued by the broader market despite their growth in revenue. Others, it adds, “call it portfolio window-dressing to boost returns.”

Even as most analysts agree that the U.S. is in the later stages of an economic cycle, the article says many value investors say they aren’t looking back, which may suggest that “stocks are due for a pullback, putting investors who have altered their strategies at risk of missing out if the pendulum swings back in favor of traditional value stocks that historically shine when the broader market is under pressure.”