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Value vs Growth: Current Trends, Top Stocks & ETFs

The value versus growth stocks debate is never-ending. Value stocks mounted a comeback in early 2021 as the world “reopened” and interest rates were rising, but the sea change appears to have been short-lived. After just about 4 months of underperformance, growth stocks regained the lead. 

Zooming out, from the COVID-induced market downturn through the end of 2020, growth stocks delivered a 1.5x greater return than their value counterparts. Now that trend continues with growth outpacing value at a similar rate of return. 

As an interesting proof-point, trading volume in the S&P 500 Value ETF (IVE) first surpassed that of IVW, its growth counterpart, in March 2021. This trend was seemingly in direct response to growth’s lapsing performance, but was similarly short-lived.

Value vs Growth, IVW, IVE, YCharts, Fundamental Chart, iShares S&P 500 Growth ETF, iShares S&P 500 Value ETF

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This back and forth shift in market leadership has brought an age-old debate back to the forefront: value or growth?


Value & Growth Securities Through the Years

Value and growth have each outperformed the other over certain periods—the chart below shows the rolling three-year total return for the Russell 1000 Growth and Russell 1000 Value indices since the early 1980s, with value and growth regularly trading the lead. The lower panel illustrates the spread between the two, with a value above zero representing growth outperformance.

Russell 1000 Value Total Return, Russell 1000 Growth Total Return, YCharts, Fundamental Charts, All Time Total Returns, Spread

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It’s easy to get carried away when one approach significantly outpaces the other, but when deciding between value and growth investing, it’s important to consider cyclicality, as well as your personal investment objectives and time horizon. To help in your decision-making, we’ve outlined below the most important characteristics of each, how value and growth compare in terms of performance, and several ways YCharts helps uncover the best strategy for you and your clients.


The Top Growth & Value Stocks

Top Growth Stocks, PKI, NVDA, FB, MPWR, FTNT, LRCX, DGX, GOOGL, TMO, GNRC, Growth Stocks

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The Top Growth Stocks table is based on YCharts’ Trailing Revenue, EPS, and CF Growth”, narrowed to constituents of the S&P 500 Growth index. The result is a list of growth stocks with positive Revenue Growth, Diluted EPS Growth, and Cash from Operations Growth on a quarterly, annual, and 3-year basis. To arrive at the top 10, a Scoring Model that equally weighted all growth metrics was applied.

PerkinElmer Inc (PKI)


Facebook Inc (FB)

Monolithic Power Systems Inc (MPWR)

Fortinet Inc (FTNT)

Lam Research Corp (LRCX)

Quest Diagnostics Inc (DGX)

Alphabet Inc (GOOGL)

Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc (TMO)

Generac Holdings Inc (GNRC)

Top Value Stocks, LEN, MGLN, MLR, MTH, SAFT, SENEA, TRV, YCharts, Value Stocks

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Similarly, the Top Value Stocks table comes directly from YCharts’ “Benjamin Graham Value Stocks” template and uses his principles to dial into the most attractive value stocks. The template filters for stocks with over $500M of annual revenue, current assets above twice their current liabilities, total long-term debt less than current assets minus total liabilities, Diluted EPS 10-Year Growth above 2.9, PE 5 less than 20.0, and a Price-to-Book less than 2.0.

Lennar Corp (LEN)

Magellan Health Inc (MGLN)

Miller Industries Inc. (MLR)

Meritage Homes Corp (MTH)

Safety Insurance Group Inc (SAFT)

Seneca Foods Corp (SENEA)

The Travelers Companies Inc (TRV)


The Top Growth & Value ETFs


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The datatable above utilizes YCharts’ “Best Performing Growth ETFs” template, which screens for all ETFs that align with the growth equity style, an expense ratio less than 0.50, and Total NAV Returns category Rank less than 50 for the past 1-year, 3-year, and 5-year period.

iShares Core S&P US Growth ETF (IUSG)

iShares S&P 500 Growth ETF (IVW)

Fidelity® Nasdaq Composite ETF (ONEQ)

Invesco QQQ Trust (QQQ)

Schwab US Large-Cap Growth ETF (SCHG)

SPDR® Portfolio S&P 500 Growth ETF (SPYG)

Vanguard S&P 500 Growth ETF (VOOG)

Vanguard Growth ETF (VUG)


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The ETFs above were identified using the same criteria as noted above but for all ETFs along the value equity style with category rankings below 25 using the “Best Performing Value ETFs” YCharts template.

VictoryShares US EQ Inc Enh Vol Wtd ETF (CDC)

Schwab Fundamental US Broad Market ETF (FNDB)

WisdomTree US Quality Sharehld Yld ETF (QSY)

SPDR® S&P 1500 Value Tilt ETF (VLU)

SPDR® Russell 1000® Yield Focus ETF (ONEY)

Invesco S&P MidCap 400 Revenue ETF (RWK)

Invesco S&P MidCap Value with Momt ETF (XMVM)

Invesco S&P MidCap 400® Pure Value ETF (RFV)

Invesco S&P SmallCap 600 Revenue ETF (RWJ)

Invesco S&P SmallCap Value with Momt ETF (XSVM)


Value and Growth Defined

Value investors try to identify companies with solid fundamentals which they believe are undervalued by the market. Alternatively, growth investors look for companies that demonstrate rapid revenue growth but have yet to reach scale or their full growth potential. It’s difficult to say which approach is superior because market conditions fluctuate, as do sector returns.

Key Characteristics of Value Stocks

Undervalued compared to their peers: Value stocks trade at lower valuations than other companies in their sector or industry. When share prices fall but a company’s underlying fundamentals remain strong, value stocks become “affordable” in the short-term and hopefully lead to long-term gains.

Lower P/E Ratios than the broad market: Even beyond a company’s closest competitors, value stocks are generally lower-priced than the broader market in terms of price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio, especially compared to growth stocks.

Less growth but reliable income streams: Usually larger and more established businesses, earnings of value stocks grow at modest but consistent clips. Because of their sizes, many companies opt to pay significant amounts of earnings directly to shareholders in the form of dividends, rather than reinvest them back into the business.

Less volatile than the broad market: Because value stocks are priced more conservatively, share prices often move less than the market average, and expectations are lower when companies report earnings. But the trade-off to price stability may be a longer holding period until payout, so value stocks are well-suited for long-term investors.

Key Characteristics of Growth Stocks

Track record of earnings and revenue growth: Growth stocks are typically less mature but have grown their revenue and earnings at a better-than-average rate in recent years, and are expected to continue doing so. Often, growth companies will ignore profitability to continue pushing revenue results. Consistently high growth rates for key top and bottom-line metrics justify their relatively higher valuations.

Higher P/E Ratios than the broad market: Because investors expect their earnings to continue growing, growth stocks carry high valuations such as above-average P/E, price-to-book (P/B), and price-to-sales (P/S) ratios. A strong Forward P/E, which considers estimates made by the company and Wall Street analysts, indicates an expectation of continued growth for these companies.

More growth with less reliable return on investment: Growth companies typically opt to reinvest earnings instead of paying dividends to shareholders. This makes an investor’s ROI dependent on the share price increasing, but when a growth stock plows earnings back into the business, it increases the likelihood of capital appreciation.

More volatile than the broad market: Due to their higher valuations, prices of growth stocks tend to be more volatile than the broader market average. When share prices are already lofty, they can plummet quickly if a company misses expectations, or when negative news, like a key employee departure, surfaces.

In addition to value vs. growth, investors also need to consider whether to use stocks or funds to implement these strategies. Mutual funds and ETFs offer broad exposure to value and growth strategies, capturing many companies that fit the bill, but also others that don’t. And stock pickers may be able to identify the single best value or growth company in the market, but also might choose incorrectly.


Performance of Value vs Growth Stocks

Investors are curious about which strategy generates more returns. While the two strategies historically ebb and flow quite regularly, the returns table below shows that growth has handily outperformed value since the 2010s. 

Performance, Value, IWD, Growth, IWF, Fund, ETF, iShares Russell 1000 Growth ETF, iShares Russell 1000 Value ETF

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Market cyclicality is an important factor to consider when comparing value vs. growth performance. 

Growth stocks generally perform better during bull markets, when interest rates are falling, and when corporate earnings are trending up. However, during economic slowdowns, growth tends to lag behind value. Similarly, value tends to outperform growth during a bear market or economic recession, as well as in the early stages of an economic recovery.

Take for instance the recent decline in long-term treasury bond rates. As interest rates decrease and future cash flows become less discounted, investors are likely rotating out of value stocks and into more aggressive assets, such as growth stocks and equities.

10-year Treasury, 30-Year Treasury, iShares S&P 500 Growth ETF, iShares S&P 500 Value ETF, Ycharts, Fundamental Charts, IVW, IVE

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Company size (given by market capitalization) is also often a contributing factor. When further breaking down value and growth companies by size, such as large, mid, and small market capitalizations, more nuanced performance differences appear. There are over 67,000 funds available in YCharts, including some popular value and growth ETFs with strategies that incorporate market cap:

Large-cap funds:

Invesco Dynamic Large Cap Value ETF (PWV) and Growth ETF (PWB)
Nuveen ESG Large-Cap Value ETF (NULV) and Growth ETF (NULG)
Schwab US Large-Cap Value ETF (SCHV) and Growth ETF (SCHG)

Mid-cap funds:

iShares Morningstar Mid-Cap Value ETF (IWS) and Growth ETF (IWP)
Nuveen ESG Mid-Cap Value ETF (NUMV) and Growth ETF (NUMG)
Vanguard Mid-Cap Value ETF (VOE) and Growth ETF (VOT)

Small-cap funds:

MFAM Small-Cap Growth ETF (MFMS)
Opus Small Cap Value Plus ETF (OSCV)
Vanguard Small-Cap Value ETF (VBR) and Growth ETF (VBK)



Using YCharts to Compare Value and Growth Stocks

YCharts features several tools and data sets to enable more informed comparisons of value vs. growth stocks or value funds vs. growth funds:

Create Value vs. Growth Stock Visuals

The previous chart illustrates long-term performance for value and growth strategies, but what about individual stocks and the metrics that define them? Use Fundamental Charts to compare two companies based on underlying metrics that define value and growth opportunities, and over any period. For example, put the P/E, P/S, and price-to-free cash flow ratios for Amazon (AMZN) and AT&T (T), two common top holdings in growth and value funds, respectively, head-to-head.

AMZN, ATT, YCharts, Fundamental Charts, Amazon, AT&T, Valuation, PE Ratio, PS Ratio, Price to Free Cash Flow

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Generate Side-by-Side Comparison Reports 

To compare growth and value funds in a client-friendly format, build a Side-by-Side Comparison report.

The example below pits two growth ETFs, Invesco’s Dynamic Large Cap Growth ETF (PWB) and Nuveen’s ESG Large-Cap Growth ETF (NULG) head-to-head on factors like holdings, performance, risk, and fees. Sending over a comparison report between the two funds can be accomplished in just a few mouse clicks, saving you time while ensuring your client gets the information they need swiftly.

NULG, PWB, S&P 500, Performance, Growth, YCharts, Side by Side Report, Nuveen ESG Large-Cap Growth ETF, Invesco Dynamic Large Cap Growth ETF

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As you can see, Nuveen’s Growth ETF has routed Invesco’s year-to-date, 1-Year, and 3-Year total returns all at a lower expense ratio. These quick and easy to generate comparison reports, provide a world of value for investors and their clients, ensuring visually appealing and straightforward analysis with an immediate impact.

Screen for Value and Growth Stocks, Funds & ETFs

Whether your mind is already made up on value vs. growth, or you want to dig a little deeper, the YCharts Stock and Fund Screeners narrow in on the best equities and funds for your portfolio. The YCharts Screeners feature several pre-built templates to make finding new investment opportunities even easier.

The Trailing Revenue, EPS, and Cash Flow Growth screen, one of many growth-focused Stock Screener templates, finds stocks with strong revenue growth, earnings-per-share (EPS) growth, and cash from operations growth over several timeframes. Other pre-built templates include the growth-focused Forecasted Growth Screen, and Relative Value Stocks and Dividend Growth Over Time for value-minded investors.

Evaluating value and growth mutual funds and ETFs is a slightly different analysis. With all fund managers trying to pick the best stocks, you can compare and contrast managers’ success by looking at those funds’ performance and risk metrics. Templates like Top Growth Funds and Top Value Funds help identify the best-performing funds of both styles:

Comp Table, Value, YCharts, Value vs Growth

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Build Custom Scoring Models for Value and Growth Stocks

Once you have a more manageable list of securities (like the results from a screen above), use Scoring Models to create a custom score or ranking using the metrics you find most important. For example, the Value Score below incorporates relative P/E ratio, relative P/S and dividend per share growth, at varying weights, to compare several value stocks against each other.

YCharts Scoring Models


Value vs Growth: Which Is Better For You?

Your preference for, or belief in, value vs. growth typically comes down to your investment objectives, risk tolerance, and time horizon. You may also prefer to achieve exposure to growth, value, or both via mutual funds and ETFs, or individual stocks.

Some general rules of thumb: growth may be right for you if you’re comfortable with larger price movements and you don’t need current income (by way of dividends), while you might prefer value if you’re looking for more stable investments that regularly pay dividends.

There’s also a case to be made for including both value and growth in your portfolio to smooth out times of volatility, and still keep pace when the market starts to run. “Blend” funds, created by asset managers, have emerged to achieve “growth at a reasonable price.” This hybrid approach focuses on companies poised for growth but still incorporates traditional value.


Connect With YCharts

To get in touch, contact YCharts via email at hello@ycharts.com or by phone at (866) 965-7552

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©2021 YCharts, Inc. All Rights Reserved. YCharts, Inc. (“YCharts”) is not registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (or with the securities regulatory authority or body of any state or any other jurisdiction) as an investment adviser, broker-dealer or in any other capacity, and does not purport to provide investment advice or make investment recommendations. This report has been generated through application of the analytical tools and data provided through ycharts.com and is intended solely to assist you or your investment or other adviser(s) in conducting investment research. You should not construe this report as an offer to buy or sell, as a solicitation of an offer to buy or sell, or as a recommendation to buy, sell, hold or trade, any security or other financial instrument. For further information regarding your use of this report, please go to: ycharts.com/about/disclosure

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