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As the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

roared its way back above the 10,000 mark with a two-day, 819-point gain Wednesday and Thursday, long-suffering value mutual funds had a rare moment in the sun. Many boasted double-digit gains from the rally.

(SEQUX) - Get Report

Sequoia fund, a once-stellar performer that has recently been dragged down by its heavy concentration in

Warren Buffett's

Berkshire Hathaway

(BRK.A) - Get Report

, posted a two-day 14.3% pop.

Other fallen stars with double-digit midweek gains include the $50 billion

(AWSHX) - Get Report

Washington Mutual Investors, 10.6%;

(CLPRX)

UAM's Clipper Focus, 11.7%;

(OAKMX) - Get Report

Oakmark, 10%; and

(NBSSX) - Get Report

Neuberger Berman Focus, 10%.

Value managers buy stocks that appear cheap compared with similar stocks or based on objective indicators, like price-to-earnings ratios. But over the past two years, investors have favored pricey stocks in sectors such as technology, while cheaper stocks have languished -- leaving most value managers out of the action. Large-cap value funds, for example, are up only about 5% over the past 12 months, compared with a 35.5% rise for large-cap growth stocks, according to

Lipper

.

Even after this week's comeback, most value funds are still down for the year -- Sequoia is off 4.2%, for example, and Washington Mutual is 3.2% in the red. Still, value stalwarts are claiming some vindication from this week's rally.

"For the past 18 months, if you were a value manager you were coming in and you were punched and beaten every day," says Michael Kassen, chief investment officer at

Neuberger Berman

(NEU) - Get Report

, a value shop.

But value managers aren't yet ready to declare victory.

"It doesn't take a lot of money to move out of these tech giants to move a

Merck

(MRK) - Get Report

or

Caterpillar

(CAT) - Get Report

,'' says Richard Moroney, co-manager of the

(SDOWX)

Strong Dow 30 Value fund.

Even the deep value approach is showing signs of life. The Dogs of the Dow, a strategy of investing in the Dow's highest-dividend-paying stocks -- and therefore the biggest value plays in that index -- aren't the sick puppies they were a few days ago. The

(SDWAX)

SunAmerica Dogs of Wall Street fund was up 13.1% on Wednesday and Thursday.

Much of the boost came from the financial sector, which has been under pressure for most of this year amidst rising interest rates. Stocks such as

Citigroup

(C) - Get Report

, up 13.8% over the past two days, and

Freddie Mac

(FRE)

, up 23%, are core holdings in many value portfolios.

The question for nervous investors is whether this week's value-stock revival is simply an encore of last year's tease, when cyclicals briefly outpaced the highflying tech sector, but then fell back to earth a few weeks later.

Not surprisingly, the value stalwarts say this time the rally might have more teeth to it because it's coming ahead of first-quarter earnings reports. "The fact that it's coming now may mean that there's more of a rotation'' into cyclicals, Moroney says.

Kassen of Neuberger Berman insists that too many stocks didn't get a fair shake during the long winter of the value slump. "You look at a stock like the

lender

Associates First

(AFS)

, which has a long-term quality record," he says. "It got to 49 last year and a couple of days ago it was at 16. It was way too oversold."