Stocks whose prices trail their implied intrinsic value are often seen as attractive investments primarily due to their undervaluation. But a recent article by Vanguard suggests another reason value stocks may be worth considering now. Historically, value stocks have outperformed their “growth” counterparts in times of economic recovery.
The report quotes Kevin DiCiurcio, CFA, head of the Vanguard Capital Markets Model® research team, as he makes the case. “So, if you believe that the Federal Reserve may have engineered a soft landing—that we’re going to sidestep a recession and that the economy’s next move is an acceleration—the case for value is strengthened.”
According to their research published in August, 2023, Vanguard estimated that value stocks were priced more than 51% below their fair value prediction. They stated, “It’s well-known... that asset prices can stray meaningfully from perceived fair values for extended periods. However, as we explained in (previous research), deviations from fair value and future relative returns share an inverse and statistically significant relationship over five- and 10-year periods.”
This observation adds one more reason value stocks are worth a look. In addition to favorable valuations and historically consistent dividends, the possibility that value stocks may shine during the coming economic recovery many anticipate, is another factor to consider. Whether held directly, within a passive allocation, or as part of a Separately Managed Account, now is a perfect time to revisit the case for value stocks in your client’s portfolios.
Finsum: Vanguard's research highlights value stock historical outperformance during economic recoveries.
If you’re tinkering with the idea of bonds, consider this: the challenges on the fixed income landscape, according to money.usnews.com. For those who aren’t initiated, individual bonds – which trade over the counter – it can be a tough road to hoe.
That’s where bonds funds come in. For investors, they’re an entrée to diversified bonds. And what about the complexities of direct bond investment? There are none.
"Given the higher risks and costs associated with portfolios of individual bonds, and the time they take to manage, most investors are better served by low-cost mutual funds and exchange-traded funds, or ETFs," said Chris Tidmore, senior manager at Vanguard's Investment Advisory Research Center. "This is particularly true in the case of municipal and corporate bonds, which are less liquid and harder to purchase than Treasury bonds."
Meantime, calling it a day was Eric Needleman, global head of Fixed Income, who plans to do so by year’s end, according to an announcement by Stifel Financial Corp., reported yahoo.com.
"We are deeply grateful for Eric’s dedication, leadership, and the lasting impact he has made on our firm,” said Stifel Chairman and CEO Ron Kruszewski. “He set a standard of excellence that will continue to define Stifel's approach to the fixed income business.”
Well, perhaps you’ve pulled up to the right window. After all, a big upside of active fixed income management: risk mitigation, according to npifund-com.
Possible problems – before they damage client portfolios – can be traded out of by alert active fixed income managers. What’s more, the site states: “We believe the next problem to address with active management is the leverage bubble in corporate debt. The disproportionately large BBB market, in particular, “poses a risk to the markets in the event of a wave of downgrades under the right recessionary scenario.”
Meantime, it seems investment strategy and fixed income teams at Vanguard have been burning a little midnight oil.
According to corpaemdisp.essp.c1.vanguard.com, new research from the company’s teams taken a close look into how the growth of a diverse coupon stack in the municipal bond market, followed by, down the line, “aggressive Fed rate hikes put negative convexity front and center in active muni investing.”
Those active managers steering through this environment of souped up rates are gaining leverage. Why? Because they’ve been able to wrap their heads around how to manage negative convexity risk – and they’ve been prudent while they’re at it.
Share and share alike?
Well, tell that to exchange traded funds. While they burgeoned in popularity, when it comes to sharing equally – or consistently – in the billions of dollars investors pluck down on them monthly, they don’t exactly participate, according to thinkadvisor.com.
An ETF focused on environmental, social and governance investing was one that trailed the pack. Year to date, it experienced the largest withdrawals. “(That suggests) that there may be some backlash against ESG from investors,” said Sumit Roy, senior ETF analyst at ETF.com.
In any event, as an investor, want a cost effective way to diversify your portfolios across various asset classes: you’ll get that from top ETFs, according to Investopedia.com. The work of ETFs, it seems, is never done. Not only does it track a particular index, sector or commodity and trade on a stock exchange, the way in which it goes about it mirrors that of a regular stock, putting investors in a position to wield greater flexibility.
Stress in the bank sector? Sure, okay.
Uncertainty spawned by the U.S debt ceiling? Yep, no one can legitimately propose an argument to the contrary.
Political uncertainly festering in Russia? Well, yeah, if you’ve watched even a scintilla of news lately.
Despite that exhaustive list, the global economy’s hanging tough, strutting its resilience, according to gsam.com, which believes a restored allocation to core fixed income can help boost the ability to reinforce the resilience off portfolios to periods of bearish sentiments. That’s especially in light of a bounce in yields which have bolstered the protective power and income benefits of high quality bonds.
Meantime, the economy continues to perform better than expected, seemingly shucking aside rates hikes that have been a mainstay since last March, according to privatewealth-insights-bmo.com.
Consumers, buoyed by high employment, not to mention escalating wages, have hung tough.
For this cycle, with Canadian rates riding high and the stream of rate hikes -- for the most part, at least -a thing of the past, the time to take another look at fixed income allocations is right.
In one corner of the investment world: the traditionalists; in the other, the alternatives.
A survey of 191 investment professionals from February 14, 2023 to April 7of this year showed a mounting interest in alternative investments among professionals, at 28%, predating the pandemic, according to thestreet.com.
"As traditional stock and bond asset classes suffered from losses and volatility in 2022, it's not surprising that interest in alternative investments increased among financial professionals. However, overall use of alternatives remains relatively low,” 2023 FPA President James Lee, CFP, CRPC, AIF, said in a press release.
While alternative investments are catching the attention of some financial advisers, the survey highlighted that over 90 percent of investment professionals currently use or recommend exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
Unlike traditional assets, of course, alternative investments aren’t subject to US Securities and Exchange Commission regulatory requirements, according to coresignal.com. That’s significant since it translates in further room for speculative investment practices.
There’s a scant link between alternative assets and the stock market – not to mention other conventional investments, according to coresignal.com. Consequently, they’re not required to react to market conditions as they shift. For conventional securities, it’s a different story.
Alternative investments, fueled by high fees and minimums, typically are accessible to institutional investors exclusively.
It seems there’s not much, um, fixed, about fixed income. That’s because, pre tell, in the second half of the year, conditions there likely will be choppy, according to dayhagan.com.
Ongoing tightening by central banks in the developed markets is pushing up short term yields, while long term yields are feeling the weight of slower growth and a pull back in inflation seemingly on the horizon later this year.
Meantime, the fixed income allocation strategy experienced scant changes in sector allocations coming into the month.
Now, want to talk about a calorie burner? Presenting active, active and more of it.
As in, as if you had to ask, active management.
"Everywhere we turn, we are hearing that a new dawn is upon us, and it is once again the time for active management. Many would be surprised that I totally agree, said Jason Xavier, head of EMEA ETF Capital Markets at Franklin Templeton, according to global.beyondbullsandbears.com.
It could be argued – as outlined in his predictions for the year – that the decade of “cheap” money and unprecedented low interest rates are a thing of the past and that those with the chops to work the volatile markets will reap the benefits.
That said, the picture on the horizon boasts considerably more potential; in other words, the dawn of active fixed income in the exchange traded fund or ETF vehicle. Clinging to the assumption that ETFs are a passive vehicle – and passive vehicles only – is a myth, he continued.
Volatility’s not your game? You’re sure now?
Well then, to tamp down volatility in a portfolio – or generate steady income -- fixed income assets are popular alternatives to dividend stocks, according to money-usnews.com. And the assets pay out a defined stream of income.
It typically assumes the form of bonds, which, essentially, are IOUs investors can reach into their wallet for from a number of sources, like, for example, governments and corporations.
That said, bond investing isn’t as easy as one-two-….you get the ides. Instead, since individual bonds are traded over the counter and mucho calculation is required to price correctly, it can be complex.
"Given the higher risks and costs associated with portfolios of individual bonds, and the time they take to manage, most investors are better served by low-cost mutual funds and exchange-traded funds, or ETFs," said Chris Tidmore, senior manager at Vanguard's Investment Advisory Research Center in Wayne, Pennsylvania. "This is particularly true in the case of municipal and corporate bonds, which are less liquid and harder to purchase than Treasury bonds."
Meantime, this for U.S. investors in exchange traded funds: you might want to mull over taking the splash into medium-term fixed income ETFs. according to marketwatch.com. Why, you might ask? They could not only dispense “attractive carry,” they also could translate into a “buffer” against the volatile returns in the U.S. equity market. That’s in light of the fact that the Fed’s path toward interest rate hiking’s immersed in a lack of clarity, Gargi Chaudhuri, BlackRock’s head of iShares investment strategy for the Americas, said.
Nope; no precious four baggers here. Instead, ESG recently took something of a hit as the United Nations convened a climate alliance for insurers, according to reuters.com. A minimum of three additional departures – including the chair of the group – took place. What had them heading for the exits? Opposition from U.S. Republicans pols.
As of the time of this report, on May 25, that meant at least seven members of the Net-Zero Insurance Alliance had bid the group adieu, with five of the eight founding signatories included. NZIA was founded in 2021.
Over the past year, in terms of reaching decisions evolving around investments, negativity stemming from the contemplation of EGS factors has dominated the landscape, according to weforum.org.
The invasion of Ukraine, inflation and, in some parts of the world, a spike in populism, have aroused criticism surrounding ESG.
The caveat: integral to abetting the swing to a greener, more sustainable future hinges on investing that’s truly sustainable and, consequently, shouldn’t be shucked aside.
Even so, the period of negative scrutiny in so much as arriving at investment decisions generated by ESG factors, has been unprecedented.
In an article for Benzinga, Piero Cingari discussed the bear market in office REIT stocks as the vast majority are now trading at their all-time lows. It’s not entirely surprising given that workers are not returning to the office, following the pandemic, despite the best efforts of many employers.
As a result, many companies are giving up office space and/or choosing to move to a hybrid model. Of course, this has spillover effects on other areas such as the businesses that sell products and services to these workers.
In the first week of May, office occupancy in the 10 largest US cities was at half the levels that were seen prior to the pandemic. Many analysts had predicted that office occupancy would gradually ‘normalize’ just like so many other parts of the economy have done so. Yet, this isn’t the case and occupancy hasn’t risen over the last 6 months which is an indication that the changes may be permanent.
Adding to the sectors’ woes is higher rates leading to higher borrowing costs, heavy levels of short interest, and rising crime rates in many urban areas.
Finsum: Office REITs have been crushed amid high rates and corporations reducing office space with occupancy at 50% of pre-pandemic levels.
In an article for MarketWatch, Mike Murphy covered a recent report that state and federal regulators are examining unusual trading patterns behind the recent volatility in bank stocks. Notably, the entire banking sector and specifically regional banks, have been subject to heightened volatility and heavy short-selling in recent months following the failures of banks like Signature Bank, First Republic, and Silicon Valley Bank.
In recent weeks, there have been big declines and large amounts of put buying in the stocks of regional banks like PacWest, Western Alliance, and Zions. The core challenge for these banks is that they made long-term loans at much lower rates, yet they have to increase short-term deposit rates or risk depositors leaving for higher rates elsewhere. And the risk of this deposit flight increases if concerns about a bank’s financial health increases.
Both the White House and the SEC noted the short-selling pressure on banks possibly contributing to the volatility. In a statement, SEC Chair Gary Gensler said, “In times of increased volatility and uncertainty, the SEC is particularly focused on identifying and prosecuting any form of misconduct that might threaten investors, capital formation or the markets more broadly.”
Finsum: With increasing volatility in the banking sector, regulators and public officials are examining short-selling and put buying as factors that may be adding to volatility.
Um, fixed income investors seemingly were more than glad to host the going away party, according to JP Morgan.com.
That’s especially in the aftermath of one of the worse years on records for bonds. The culprit? Yep; the Fed, and its hyper active barrage of rate hikes. And, yes again, the last of it should spell stability this year to the bond market. That said, investor should bear in mind:
How far will the Fed go before concluding its rate hiking campaign?
How might credit perform in a year where both economic and profit growth are set to slow?
How will impaired liquidity impact price action?
Now, on one hand, of course, with volatility comes risk. But it also can be the land of opportunity, according to lazardassetmanagement.com. Consequently, investors shouldn’t duck and dodge fixed income like a bill collector but embrace the possible upside by going eye to eye and confronting volatility.
“In this unusual environment, we believe investors may want to move out of a passive mindset and consider investments beyond ‘plain vanilla’ bonds. By being creative, being active, and diversifying globally, investors can find fixed income solutions that may set up portfolios for the longer term with attractive return potential.”
Last month, investors must have spent more than a little time at their neighborhood ATM. After all, during that period, they poured $62.1 billion into ETFs, according to zacks.com.
That’s setting some pace, at that, considering it’s almost tripled February inflows, according to the BlackRock report. The first quarter net inflows as a result: $148.5 billion.
Fixed income ETFs fueled most of the inflows. Marking the largest gain since October, it hauled in approximately $38 billion.
Meantime, the Innovator, an outcome-based ETF issuer, recently was more than a little busy. It launched a unique suite of barrier ETFs that extends protection by scooping up U.S. Treasurys and selling equity options, according to cnbc.com.
“Advisors are realizing that bonds aren’t the safe haven that many thought they would be,” the firm’s CIO, Graham Day, told CNBC’s “ETF Edge.” “If you can pair [a barrier ETF] with the fixed income, it offers a tremendous amount of diversification benefits.”
And talk about two birds with one stone. These ETFs nip credit risk in the bud and yield liquidity every day, Day explained.
Volatility? Um, okay. What of it?
After all, yeah, sure, while it generates risk, it also can create opportunity, according to lazardassetmanagement.com. Meaning, rather than trying to circumvent it, fixed income investors should embrace it. Why exactly, you ponder? It’s because they could reap rewards from, like a scene straight out of the Wild West, looking it in the eye. No blinking, either.
In this atypical environment, the firm believes investors might want to abandon a passive mindset and chew over investments that leave “plain vanilla” bonds in the dust. Investors can come across fixed income solutions that have the potential to set up portfolios for the longer run by being creative and active. And don’t forget, mind you, diversifying globally.
Earlier in the year, etftrends.com reported that, potentially, fixed income classes could dispense better total return performance in 2023. That’s in the aftermath of a year riddled in negative returns that not only reset valuations – but to levels that seem more attractive. It’s especially so among investors with a more prolonged timeline.