Income investors’ current huge bias to growth

Nick Kirrage

Income investors seem to have a huge bias towards growth at the moment.

Value and growth are often viewed as two sides of the same coin. If your portfolio is 50 per cent in value-oriented investments, it is fair to suggest the other 50 per cent is in growth – or, as they tend to have it in the US, ‘momentum’ – stocks.

If you are 30 per cent in value, then the chances are you are 70 per cent in growth.

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If you ask them nicely, the analysts at Morningstar can break down portfolios by investment style and so we asked them to do just that for funds in the UK Income category.

We then made the reasonable assumption that, if a fund has more than 50 per cent in value-oriented stocks, it has a value focus and, if it has more than 50 per cent in growth stocks, it has a growth focus.

The funds that make up Morningstar’s UK Income sector boast a chunky £87bn in assets under management.

We disaggregated this figure into the percentage value run by each investment house and then ranked everything according to the degree to which they are focused towards value or growth.

The resulting chart (below) paints an arresting picture.

As you can see, 87 per cent of all £87bn of funds under management in the UK Income sector have a greater than 50 per cent bias to growth, which of course means just 13 per cent have any sort of tilt towards value.

Prominent in the former camp is the vertical line towards the right of the chart, which represents the £18bn one investment house has across its stable of growth-oriented income portfolios.

Towards the left of the chart, the great majority of the £5bn or so of assets with a 60 per cent or higher tilt towards value are also run by a single investment house.

We presume its identity goes without saying and so will instead concentrate on what this chart is saying – most obviously that, as things stand, almost nobody wants to touch value.

That is because value pretty much embodies everything investors currently find problematic – commodities, banks, volatility and so on.


Source: Schroders, Morningstar Direct. 31 May 2016

In contrast, growth is a much easier decision for investors – at least at first glance – and there is certainly no denying a lot of the funds that make up the right-hand side of our chart can point to excellent 10-year track records.

Yet we know markets are cyclical over time. We know businesses and sectors – whether they have been doing well or poorly – revert to the mean over time. And we know that – again, over time – value has a long, long history of outperforming growth.