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The market's most speculative stocks stumble

Investors appear to be losing their taste for high-valuation stocks.

The two names with the highest price-to-earnings ratios in the S&P 500, Netflix and Amazon, have each slid about 15 percent this year. This after an exemplary 2015 for both.

For Nicholas Colas, chief market strategist at Convergex, this is a sign that investors are "very much minding [valuation] now."

More generally, Colas sees signs that the long outperformance of growth stocks as compared to value names has reached an end.

"For the last 10 years, growth stocks have outperformed value stocks on the order of 2 percent on a compounded annual basis," Colas said Friday on CNBC's "Trading Nation."

"That's a real outlier kind of observation," and as relative performance reverts to the mean, "we're expecting value to outperform growth in 2016."

Indeed, the S&P 500 growth index has slid more than 3 percent this year, while the S&P 500 value index is down just 1 percent. Growth stocks are names like Apple, Facebook and Amazon that are increasing earnings and sales (and tend to have higher valuations), while value stocks include those trading at low prices compared to their earnings and book values, such as Exxon Mobil, AT&T and Wells Fargo.

Of course, in the type of market that sees investors shy away from risk, value stocks should be expected to do relatively well.

Marko Kolanovic, global head of macro quantitative and derivatives strategy at JPMorgan, wrote in a recent note that due to his belief that the S&P 500 will be up against serious headwinds, "we think there are better opportunities in value stocks ... as compared to broad S&P 500 exposure."

More generally, Kolanovic makes a similar point to Colas.

"We think the outperformance of value assets will continue," he wrote Friday. "The initial momentum-value move was largely driven by unwinds of extreme positioning," which he believes are destined to be reversed.


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Brian Sullivan is co-anchor of CNBC's "Power Lunch" (M-F,1PM-3PM ET), one of the network's longest running programs, as well as the host of the daily investing program "Trading Nation." He is also a frequent guest on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" and other NBC properties.

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