After tumbling for much of March, momentum stocks have come roaring back this week. After being at the forefront of the decline, biotech stocks have led the recovery: the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF is up 5.5% this week after falling more than 16% from its peak on Feb. 25. Wednesday's huge move in MannKind (MNKD), following yesterday's huge move for Intuitive Surgical (ISRG), is likely to keep passions among the mo-mo crowd aflame.
"Within the broader intermediate-term trend, even long-term trend, we're in an uptrend and growth stocks have performed very well -- momentum stocks specifically," says Leigh Drogen, CEO of Estimize and a former hedge fund trader. "Whenever there's a dislocation like this -- for whatever reason -- and stocks get that slaughtered, you want to buy 'em because you're going to get that snapback rally."
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On Monday, Drogen wrote that battered momentum favorites such as athenahealth (ATHN) should be "bought, hand over fist," in anticipation of the snapback. This is a "days-type thing," he explains of the 'hand over fist' recommendation but remains convinced growth stocks will continue to outperform value for the intermediate-term (i.e. 3-to-6 months). "It's not over until its over [and] all the technicals say 'it's not over'."
But the long-term outperformance of growth stocks is over -- or at least ending -- according to David Nelson, chief strategist of Belpointe Capital.
"The worm has turned," according to Nelson, citing the "u-turn for growth stocks" in March as a signal of big changes afoot. In addition to biotech's deep fall, he notes strength in "stodgy old tech names" like Microsoft (MSFT) while recent high-flyers such as Netflix (NFLX) and Facebook (FB) stumbled.
"From the depth of the financial crisis, growth was clearly the winner," he says."That warning shot last month is the beginning of the change" similar to the long-term shift toward value stocks after the tech bubble burst in 2000.
Whether or not last month proves to be the beginning of a 'great rotation' away from growth and toward value remains, of course to be seen. And while Nelson and Drogen are on opposite sides of this debate, they both agree this question has a lot to do with an investor's risk tolerance and time horizon. Knowing your own ability to manage risk and whether you're really a short-term trader or a long-term investor is far more important then determining who's winning the latest edition of the long-running "growth vs. value" debate.
Aaron Task is the host of The Daily Ticker and Editor-in-Chief of Yahoo Finance. You can follow him on Twitter at @aarontask or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.