News and analysis from Standard & Poor’s MarketScope Advisor
The last weeks of the year offer an excellent time to review investment holdings, helping to get a head start on managing tax season and next year’s expenses as well as to position portfolios for the market and economic conditions to come. A thorough evaluation of each investment thesis seems all the more imperative in the wake of the powerful rally in U.S. and international stock markets since the market hit a 12-year low in March.
Standard & Poor’s Chief Investment Strategist Sam Stovall notes that both small- and mid-cap stocks rose more quickly than large caps since the market low in March, as is usually the case at the start of a bull market. [To hear more on the mutual fund outlook for 2010 from Mr. Stovall and other S&P analysts, see the invitation at the end of this story.]
S&P’s Investment Policy Committee recommends keeping 6% of portfolio holdings in mid-cap stocks, and 4% in small-cap stocks. The committee recommends a blended position, but for those hoping to pick up some additional yield, there are some signs that point to better performance from the value side of the small- and mid-cap universe compared with the growth side. S&P Equity Research estimates that earnings per share for S&P/Citigroup Mid-Cap Total Return Value index members will rise by 20% in 2009 compared with a 27% decline for its sister Growth index. Earnings for S&P/CitiGroup Small-Cap Total Return Value index members are seen rising 13%, compared with a 21% decline for the Small-Cap Growth index.
In 2010, small and mid-cap growth companies should return to profit growth, but their value counterparts should post as strong or stronger gains, with mid-cap growth companies estimated to report 53% earnings per share growth in 2010, compared with 51% for mid-cap value companies. Small-cap value stocks should see earnings per share gains of 192%, compared with 54% for the growth side in 2010, according to S&P estimates. Small- and mid-cap value stocks “are showing EPS growth over growth,” for 2010, Stovall says, while profit gains for growth stocks will have to play catch up.
For those interested in the mid-cap and small-cap space, four value-oriented funds stand out from the group of about 15 small- and mid-cap value funds that have a 5-star rank from S&P Mutual Fund reports.
Janus Perkins Mid-Cap Value (JMCVX) is far and away the largest mid-cap value fund, with $10.3 billion in assets at the end of October 2009. Since it opened for business in August 1998, it has delivered an impressive 12.4% average annual return, almost twice the 6.83% return from its benchmark–the Russell Mid-Cap Value index–over the same period. Its 0.84% expense ratio is lower than the 1.42% industry average, and the fund is one of the top five performers over both the past three- and five-year periods. The fund’s assets are spread fairly equally over 151 holdings, with top holding Allstate accounting for just 1.4% of the fund.