Trading Nation

Value is finally outpacing growth this year but will still falter long term, traders say

Value vs. growth: Traders debate whether the tides are turning
Value vs. growth: Traders debate whether the tides are turning

Value stocks are vying for their moment in the sun.

Investors have long debated whether to invest in growth or value — in other words, if they should buy up often-riskier momentum stocks with higher future potential or stick with tried-and-true companies they see as trading at relative discounts to their inherent worth.

By and large, growth has won out. The iShares S&P 500 Growth ETF (IVW) has outperformed its counterpart, the iShares S&P 500 Value ETF (IVE), by nearly 100% since the two launched in May 2000.

But as value mounts a comeback, up over 21% since Labor Day versus growth's 9.5% gain, it's worth keeping an eye on the shift, two traders said Thursday on CNBC's "Trading Nation."

"On an annualized basis, that's every bit as strong as the outperformance of growth versus value in the prior 12 months," said Steve Chiavarone, portfolio manager, equity strategist and vice president at Federated Hermes. "We think that that catch-up really has a way to go."

Cyclical stocks that fall in the value category are expected to grow their earnings by 250% in the second quarter, Chiavarone said, pointing to the financials' strong earnings growth during the last reporting cycle.

"If value can't outperform growing earnings at 250%, I don't know when it does. And that's the story for us," he said. "Yes, growth is transformative. It's disruptive. We do think it's the long-term winner. But back in last August, we made a shift. We went neutral growth. We went neutral tech. We went overweight value cyclicals."

Chiavarone's thesis is in large part tied to a widely anticipated economic reopening.

"I can't consume that much more of tech and growth goods this year versus last year, but boy, can I consume a lot more travel and entertainment and restaurant goods," he said. "Those are things where we think that incremental news flow is going to benefit value and we think there's some catching up to do. Longer term, we think they both do well, but for '21, we still feel pretty good about value over growth."

For Danielle Shay, director of options at Simpler Trading, however, growth will always win out.

"I personally am very looking forward to identifying growth stocks that are going to break out to the upside after this rotation is over, because for me, when I'm looking at something that is going to make a greater-than-expected move, it just has to be in the growth arena," she said in the same "Trading Nation" interview. "That's how I'm going to be able to profit on it in the options market."

Even so, it's "unclear" how long the rotation into value will last, Shay said, acknowledging the group's longer-term potential for a sustained comeback.

"I will say that for investors, especially long-term investors, of course value is a great place to be in right now," she said. "Due to the overall sector rotation, investors absolutely should be looking at value stocks right now because of the way the market's behaving."

That said, don't try your luck in the options market, the strategist warned.

"There's just not a lot of meat on the bones," Shay said. "When you're trying to trade options in value stocks, they typically don't have a lot of premium, therefore there's not a lot of premium to sell if you're a premium seller. And when you're looking for momentum moves, there typically aren't a lot of momentum moves. Yes, they've been trending really nicely, but, you know, again, when you're trying to trade these stocks in the options market, it just makes it really difficult."