Value ETF IWD Sheds Billions as Growth Funds Gain

Value ETF IWD Sheds Billions as Growth Funds Gain

While growth funds gain, investors are still buying value funds like COWZ and CALF.

sumit
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Senior ETF Analyst
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Reviewed by: Ron Day
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Edited by: Sean Allocca

Last year was supposed to mark a changing-of-the-guard from growth to value. After years of underperformance, value stocks strongly outperformed their growth counterparts in 2022, and many investors had expected that superior performance to continue this year. 

Not so fast. 

Growth stocks are once against outperforming value stocks, causing ETF investors to abandon the value ship.

Investors have pulled $6.1 billion out of the $48 billion iShares Russell 1000 Value ETF (IWD), the second-largest outflows of any ETF this year. On a year-to-date basis through Oct. 16, IWD is up 1.8%, a return that sharply lags the 15% gain for the iShares Russell 1000 ETF (IWB) and the 29% gain for the iShares Russell 1000 Growth ETF (IWF)

Those returns are a mirror image of last year, when IWD only fell 7.7%, while IWF tumbled 29%.

IWD’s underperformance in 2023 has investors rethinking whether last year’s strong returns were meaningful, or whether they were just a blip in the broader decade-plus trend of value stocks underperforming growth stocks.

Value ETF Winners COWZ, CALF

To be sure, not everyone is abandoning value stock ETFs. Net inflows for the group in 2023 total $145 million. That’s pretty tepid considering that investors have put $350 billion into U.S.-listed as a whole, but it’s still a positive number. 

While value funds like IWD, the iShares S&P 500 Value ETF (IVE) and the Invesco S&P 500 Pure Value ETF (RPV) have shed assets, others like the Pacer US Cash Cows 100 ETF (COWZ) and the Pacer US Small Cap Cash Cows 100 ETF (CALF) have picked up assets. COWZ and CALF have year-to-date net inflows of $4.4 billion and $2.1 billion, respectively. 

A focus on free cash flow yields as opposed to more traditional value metrics like price-to-earnings and price-to-book ratios have served COWZ and CALF well. 

COWZ is up more than 9% year-to-date through Oct. 16, well ahead of the 1.8% return for IWD and the 0.8% return for the Vanguard Value ETF (VTV), the largest U.S.-listed value ETF. 

COWZ outperformed both competing ETFs last year as well, when it rose by 3.8%, compared to a 0.8% gain for VTV and a 5.1% loss for IWD.

Sumit Roy is the senior ETF analyst for etf.com, where he has worked for 13 years. He creates a variety of content for the platform, including news articles, analysis pieces, videos and podcasts.

Before joining etf.com, Sumit was the managing editor and commodities analyst for Hard Assets Investor. In those roles, he was responsible for most of the operations of HAI, a website dedicated to education about commodities investing.

Though he still closely follows the commodities beat, Sumit covers a much broader assortment of topics for etf.com, with a particular focus on stock and bond exchange-traded funds.

He is the host of etf.com’s Talk ETFs, a popular video series that features weekly interviews with thought leaders in the ETF industry. Sumit is also co-host of Exchange Traded Fridays, etf.com’s weekly podcast series.

He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he enjoys climbing the city’s steep hills, playing chess and snowboarding in Lake Tahoe.