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With stocks surging, price-to-earnings ratios have been on the upswing in recent years. Indeed, the leading S&P 500 ETF (SPY) has gained an impressive 23.8% over the past 12 months and 15% annually over the past five years. Meanwhile, the P/E ratio of the index stands at a relatively high 25.8, up from levels below 15 in 2012.

If your clients are worried about high elevations and want to focus on value, where are the lowest P/E ratios? To find out, we collected all equity mutual funds and ETFs with more than $500 million in assets and ranked them by P/E ratios. Here we list the funds with the lowest 20.

Dominant on this list are emerging markets funds, value funds and, to a lesser extent, small-cap funds.

Emerging markets often command lower multiples than investments in the U.S. because of their more volatile economies and markets, says Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist of CFRA, an investment research firm. And value funds, by definition, buy shares that carry low prices relative to their underlying fundamentals, says Greg McBride, chief financial analyst of Bankrate. Small-caps are often volatile as well, he adds.

While low P/E ratios are one indication of the potential value of investments, portfolio managers often point out that share prices sometimes decline and never come back.

Scroll through to see the 20 mutual funds with the lowest P/E ratios, as well as their five-year returns and expense ratios. All data from Morningstar.


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