In recent years, nothing has worked for investors quite like growth stocks and growth funds. The last year the average value fund beat the average growth fund was 1997, according to Morningstar.
Growth managers specialize in companies whose earning are increasing rapidly — many of them technology firms. They buy glamour stocks such as Cisco Systems, Intel and Pfizer.
Value managers, on the other hand, scour the heap of neglected stocks. They like stocks that are cheap — based on such measures as price-earnings ratios, price-to-cash-flow ratios and private market value.
Value stocks will eventually rebound, just as they have in the past. Since you can't tell when value will begin to excel again, here are some value funds worth considering now:
— Excelsior Value & Restructuring (1-800-446-1012; www.excelsiorfunds.com buys stocks whose P/E ratios are less than half that of Standard & Poor's 500-stock index.
— Newly hatched Legg Mason Opportunity (1-800-577-8589; www.leggmason.com is run by William Miller, who also manages Legg Mason Value, the only fund to beat the S&P 500 nine years running.
— William Nygren's Oakmark Select (1-800-625-6275; www.oakmark.com owns only about 20 stocks. He buys companies he thinks are selling at less than their private market values. The fund has returned an annualized 27.8 percent over the past three years. — Unlike the managers listed here, William Dutton has produced rotten numbers lately. Skyline Special Equities (800-458-5222) has returned an annualized 3.4 percent over the past three years. That's because Dutton buys small, undervalued companies, which have been the market's least favorite stocks. His long-term record is superb, though. "What could be a better strategy than to buy a fund that has a history of success when its style is out of favor?" he says.