Market Reversals Are On The Horizon by The Royce Funds

Over the next five years we expect reversals resulting in historically below-average, single-digit results for equities, market leadership from profitable companies, renewed success for disciplined active management approaches, and small-cap value reasserting its traditional leadership role.

A Stark Reminder—Stocks Can Fall

In their first decline since 3Q14, small-cap stocks experienced their largest drop since 3Q11. Still, since the March 2009 bear market bottom, we have seen only six quarterly declines through 26 quarters, 23% of the time, reflecting both the durability and low volatility of the current cycle. The depth of 3Q15’s decline was historically on the high side, the twelfth-largest quarterly slide of the 51 down quarters since the inception of the Russell 2000 Index.

Going In and Out of Style

The Russell 2000 Value Index lost less than the Russell 2000 Growth Index for the quarter, giving small-cap value its first quarterly outperformance since 2Q14. Small-cap value’s superior performance in down quarters is “normal” as it has beaten small-cap growth in 78% of down quarters for the Russell 2000. Unusually, since the March 2009 bottom, small-cap growth has performed relatively better in down quarters, outperforming small-cap value in 50% of the cycle’s six quarterly declines.

Russell 2000 Down Quarters from 6/30/09 through 9/30/15

  Russell 2000 Value (%) Russell 2000 Growth (%) Spread between
Russell 2000 Value and
Russell 2000 Growth
9/30/2015 -10.73 -13.06 2.33
9/30/2014 -8.58 -6.13 -2.45
6/30/2012 -3.01 -3.94 0.93
9/30/2011 -21.47 -22.25 0.77
6/30/2011 -2.65 -0.59 -2.06
6/30/2010 -10.60 -9.22 -1.37

Sector Review—Low Energy and Poor Health

In the Russell 2000, the Energy, Materials, and Health Care sectors fared the worst for the quarter, though each of the small-cap index’s 10 sectors were in the red. Net losses were driven by the economic growth scare and prescription drug pricing control concerns, as well as ongoing anxiety over China and the developing world. The best-performing sectors for the quarter—that is, those that lost the least—were Utilities, Consumer Staples, and Financials—all sectors with low economic sensitivity and a U.S. focus.

3Q15’s Best and Worst Performing Sectors of the Russell 2000

Best Performing Sectors Worst Performing Sectors
Sector 3Q15 Returns (%)* Sector 3Q15 Returns (%)*
Utilities -0.3 Energy -32.8
Consumer Staples -4.8 Materials -21.9
Financials -5.3 Health Care -17.2

Market Capitalization Overview—More “Normal” Than Ever

We saw historically typical behavior for a down period—large-cap stocks, as measured by the Russell 1000 Index, held up best, followed down the market cap scale by the Russell Midcap, the Russell 2000, and the Russell Microcap. This was another signal that the highly anomalous markets of the last five years may be ending and giving way to more historically familiar performance patterns.

Market Reversals

Geographic Survey—Europe Stays Strong

For the quarter, results for non-U.S. stocks were more mixed but generally stronger than those for the domestic indexes. European stocks held up better than any other region of the globe, while Asian and emerging market indexes were among the hardest hit.

YTD Leaders and Laggards—Growth Remains a Leader

In spite of the tumultuous and volatile quarter, the Russell 2000 Growth remained well ahead of its small-cap value counterpart YTD through 9/30/15. Unsurprisingly, other YTD leaders included the Nasdaq Composite, companies based in developed Europe, and Health Care, though the latter was underwater YTD within small-cap. The YTD laggards included the Russell Microcap, Russell 2000 Value, Energy, and stocks in the Asia Pacific region.

Longer-Term Perspective—Returns Still Higher-Than-Average

Three- and five-year returns managed to stay above their historical averages at the end of 3Q15. The Russell Midcap was the leader over the Russell 2000, 1000, and Microcap Indexes while the Russell 2000 Growth led the Russell 2000 Value for the three- and five-year periods ended 9/30/15. The major domestic indexes were also ahead of their non-U.S. cousins for the three- and five-year periods (See below for complete returns).

Outlook—Looking for Reversals

Over the last several years, we have seen above-average, double-digit returns for stocks, with the Russell 2000 Small-Cap Growth Index dominating the Russell 2000 Small-Cap Value Index.

Over the next five years we expect reversals, resulting in:

  • Historically below-average, single-digit results for equities
  • Market leadership from profitable companies
  • Renewed success for disciplined active management approaches
  • Small-cap value reasserting its traditional leadership role

Royce Funds with Highest Average Annual Total Returns – Five Years Ended 9/30/15 (%)

U.S. Funds 3Q15* YTD* 1YR 5YR 10YR Gross
Smaller-Companies Growth -11.0 -3.0 3.6 9.9 6.3 1.34 1.25
Micro-Cap Opportunity -19.8 -16.4 -13.9 9.4 N/A 1.56 1.28
Opportunity -15.5 -14.9 -9.7 9.1 6.1 1.15 1.15
Total Return -9.6 -8.9 -3.9 9.1 5.9 1.19 1.19
Special Equity** -11.3 -11.8 -4.2 8.7 7.4 1.12 1.12


Global/International Funds 3Q15* YTD* 1YR 5YR 10YR Gross
Global Financial Services -10.2 -3.7 0.4 11.9 7.0 1.93 1.74
European Small-Cap -3.0 8.3 -0.5 4.3 N/A 2.98 1.29
International Small-Cap -9.3 -5.2 -11.2 1.6 N/A 5.38 1.29
Global Value -9.3 -2.3 -7.9 0.9 N/A 1.35 1.29


Indexes 3Q15* YTD* 1YR 5YR 10YR Gross
Russell 2000 Index -11.9 -7.7 1.2 11.7 6.5 N/A N/A
Russell 2500 Financial Services Index -3.7 -0.7 8.7 13.0 5.2 N/A N/A
Russell Europe Small Cap Index -4.8 4.8 1.7 7.8 5.6 N/A N/A
Russell Global ex-U.S. Small Cap Index -11.2 -4.4 -8.6 3.0 4.6 N/A N/A
Russell Global Small Cap Index -11.6 -5.9 -4.9 6.0 5.1 N/A N/A

* Not Annualized
**Only available to existing investors and relationships