AQR’s Cliff Asness Says Increase Allocation To Value Stocks

Johnny HopkinsCliff AsnessLeave a Comment

Here’s an article from CNBC in which Cliff Asness, AQR Capital founder, discusses why investors should commit a “sin” and increase their allocation toward value stocks. Here’s an excerpt from that article:

AQR Capital founder Cliff Asness says it’s time to “sin” a little — and by that he means increase allocation toward value stocks.

For years Asness, whose quant fund takes a factor-based approach to investing, has maintained some exposure to value stocks while cautioning against having an overweight position. The assertive billionaire also preaches against trying to time the market.

But on Thursday he said that while value stocks have been under pressure for 10 years, the last two years have not been justified and it may be time to buy some more.

“We think the first eight-plus years of value’s recent 10-year losing streak were ‘rational’ (for want of a better word) … In contrast, the last almost two years have seen value lose for ‘irrational’ reasons. Value fundamentals have not come in worse over this recent painful period, it’s prices alone that have gone the wrong way,”he said.

Essentially he means that for the last two years investor sentiment rather than a breakdown in fundamentals has driven the downturn in value. Value has been “on the outs” with investors.

He said AQR Capital, which oversees $185 billion, evaluated value stocks from a number of perspectives, with the conclusion always suggesting that “value is currently quite cheap compared to history.” He also doesn’t think it’s overbought at this point since for the large part value remains “shunned” and “out-of-favor.”

Value investing is a tried and true method of stock picking where the buyer evaluates the fundamentals of a company. If the market is pricing the security below what the investor has deemed to be the company’s intrinsic value, then the stock is a buying opportunity. Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett is one of the best-known value investors.

But in recent years the boom in technology names has driven investors to prioritize growth stocks, which means value stocks have somewhat fallen out of favor.

One of the tenets of Asness’ investing style is that timing the market is difficult, and so investors should only commit this “sin” during reasonably extreme events. And he says now is such a time. Investors shouldn’t wait until value stocks hit March of 2000 levels, which Asness called a “looney tunes” time.

“If you believe, as we do, that value is a good long-term strategy, and an important part (not all) of an investment process, we would recommend a modest extra amount of value than the norm. To the skeptics we would ask ‘if not now, when?’ If the answer is ‘only when it’s as bad as the tech bubble’ we just think you’re making the wrong call,” he said.

You can read the entire article here at CNBC: Cliff Asness – Going overweight value stocks gets an endorsement from a long-time quant skeptic.

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