Financial investment theory has a few very basic sacred beliefs. One of them is that more risk brings more reward. Study after study prove that stocks outperform bonds, and that small cap stocks outperform them all.
Studies prove this. Study after study proves this.
But what if those studies are wrong? After all, they always include the last 15 years and I believe that the last 15 years were an anomaly. In many ways, the last few years favored small cap stocks. The rise of the internet created the ideal conditions for small cap stocks. Traditional barriers to entry were destroyed overnight. Small companies could form connections a lot faster. Access to customers became easier.
This is when small cap stocks became the monster stocks of today: Cisco, Dell, Google, Yahoo, Ebay, Amazon, and so on.
In essence, the last few years were the golden age for small companies.
What if those days are over? After all, as far as I can tell, we've wrung out almost all the gains in the supply chain.
Is it possible that if we take out the internet age, small cap stock returns are actually less rewarding for their risk? That would shatter quite a lot of investing approaches.
The reason that I raise this is that I had the chance to review someone's investment portfolio. Their adviser had 50% of their portfolio in micro-cap stocks, far too many of which were housing related. naturally, they were down ~50%+ for the past year.
In speaking with the financial planner, I was told that I shouldn't worry. I should take the long-term view because, after all, the small cap stocks always generate the best returns.
Needless to say, I left shaking my head. I don't blame the investment advisor for buying into the theories that call for a better reward for small cap stocks. It's certainly worked. What bothers me is that this seems to remove responsibility for picking dumb sectors. Why buy into the housing sector last year when it was so obvious that it was crashing?
And, frankly, I question the entire premise. Maybe small caps have had their heyday, and the risk isn't offset by the reward.
I tend to avoid small cap stocks because of the liquidity problems and the potential for radical manipulation. Also, they are the first ones to suffer in a slowdown.