These 8 Small Cap Value Investments Are on Fire


The stock market has been on a tear as 2016 comes to a close, and there's one particular investment that has performed especially well. Small cap value investments have risen significantly over the last few months, outpacing stocks and funds representing larger companies.

Small cap value stocks are smaller companies (usually of less than $2 billion in market capitalization) that may be perceived as undervalued based on their price-to-earnings ratios. These investments appear to be benefiting from a general run-up in the stock market. But economic uncertainty overseas has further boosted small cap value investments, because they tend to be U.S.-based.

There are countless small cap value stocks, but the easiest way to invest in them is through a mutual fund or exchange-traded fund (ETF). Here's a look at some small-cap investments that have been supercharging investment portfolios this year:

1. iShares S&P Small Cap 600 Value ETF [NYSE: IJS]

Shares of this ETF are up more than 20% just since the start of November, and more than 34% over the last 52 weeks. Top holdings include TiVo, defense contractor CACI, and chemical company Chemours. IJS is designed to mirror the S&P Small Cap 600 Value Index.

2. SPDR S&P Small Cap 600 Value ETF [NYSE: SLYV]

This is another ETF designed to track the S&P Small Cap 600, and it's had a great 2016. Shares are trading at about $123, up 23% in the last two months and a whopping 50% since hitting a low of $80 in January. Returns on the year are nearly triple that of the S&P 500. SLYV's holdings are very similar to its iShares counterpart, though its expense ratio of 0.15% is slightly lower.

3. iShares Russell 2000 Value ETF [NYSE: IWN]

Another strong offering from iShares, this ETF is designed to track — surprise! — the Russell 2000 Value Index. It's up 20% in the last two months and 30% over 52 weeks. IWN's top holdings include Webster Financial Corp., Prosperity Bancshares, and chemical manufacturer Olin Corp.

4. Vanguard Small Cap Value ETF [NYSE: VBR]

VBR has been on a tear recently, up about 17% since the start of November, and 24% in 2016. This is a passively managed fund designed to mirror the performance of the U.S. Small Cap Value Index. An expense ratio of .08% is another strong selling point for this ETF. Top holdings include insurance brokerage Arthur Gallagher & Co., technology provider CDW, and Westar Energy Inc., the largest electricity provider in Kansas. (Disclosure: I own shares of VBR).

5. Schwab U.S. Small Cap ETF [NYSE: SCHA]

With an expense ratio of a mere 0.06%, this ETF costs almost nothing extra to own. And returns have been great in 2016, with shares rising by 20% on the year and 16% in the last two months. Holdings include U.S. Steel, Pacwest Bancorp, and Coty Inc., a maker of beauty products.

6. Wells Fargo Special Small Cap Value Fund [NYSE: ESPAX]

Shares of this fund are up 30% in 2016, making it one of the best performing funds of the year. It's powered by diverse holdings that include First Citizens BancShares, cement maker Eagle Materials, and metal manufacturer Mueller Industries. There are no transaction fees to buy and sell this fund through Fidelity, though there is a $2,500 minimum investment.

7. American Beacon Small Cap Value Fund [NYSE: AVFIX]

This mutual fund has risen in value by 23% in 2016. That's not quite as good as the Russell 2000 Value index, but still outpaces most investments these days. This fund is weighted heavily toward financials and technology. Top holdings include Vishay Intertechnology Inc. and Portland General Electric Company. Note that its expense ratio of 0.82% is on the high side.

8. Queens Road Small Cap Value Fund [NYSE: QRSVX]

This well-regarded fund is up 12% since the end of October and 17% overall this year. This fund is weighted toward industrials and technology, with a good dose of consumer products and financials. Top holdings include Plantronics, a maker of wireless headsets; Hilltop Holdings, a bank and insurance company; and aerospace firm Orbital ATK. The minimum to invest in this fund is $2,500, and the expense ratio of 1.26% is on the higher side. However, those with brokerage accounts at Fidelity can trade this fund without paying a commission.

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