Displaying items by tag: high yield

Sunday, 05 May 2024 07:06

Yield Seekers Should Look at Munis

Bonds are generally lagging behind this year, with the Bloomberg U.S. Aggregate Bond Index down by 3% year-to-date as of April 2022. Municipal bonds are similarly affected, with the ICE AMT-Free US National Municipal Index showing a 1% decline since the year's start. However, pockets of strength exist within the municipal bond space, particularly in high-yield offerings like the VanEck High Yield Muni ETF (HYD), which has seen nearly a 1% increase year-to-date. 


Despite the higher risk associated with high-yield bonds, HYD maintains a balanced risk profile, with a significant portion of its portfolio allocated to investment-grade bonds. Offering a 30-day SEC yield of 4.49%, HYD presents an attractive option for investors seeking enhanced yield opportunities, particularly those comfortable with added risk and in higher tax brackets. 


Overall, high-yield munis could serve as a credible alternative to junk corporate bonds, especially considering their relative resilience amid rising interest rates and the potential for enhanced returns compared to traditional municipal bond funds.

Finsum: Munis market is capitalizing on the current environment and investors don’t want to miss out. 

Published in Wealth Management

Over the last few years, Wall Street banks have been losing market share to private lenders. Recently, they have been looking to win back business by serving as intermediaries between private lenders and companies. 

Previously, leveraged buyouts were financed by a combination of high-yield bonds and/or leveraged loans, arranged by a major bank or group of banks. And this accounted for nearly a third of investment banking revenue on Wall Street.

However, private lenders have muscled in on this line of business, forcing banks to adopt and come up with their own strategies to remain viable. Banks like Wells Fargo and Barclays have partnered with private credit funds to source deals, advise lenders, and help companies navigate the right steps to secure financing. 

Banks also have preexisting relationships with many privately held companies. According to Barclays, private credit funds have $430 billion in uninvested capital. Since the 2008 financial crisis, banks have had more stringent capital requirements. This means it is more desirable to advise and provide services to borrowers rather than take on additional balance sheet risk. 

It’s also helping Wall Street banks get through a dry period for deals due to high interest rates, impeding M&A activity. They are able to collect fees from lenders and borrowers. Typically, direct lenders will split fees with the banks that originate the deal, between 25 and 75 basis points. 

Finsum: As private lending has displaced a major chunk of Wall Street’s investment banking revenue, banks are adapting by serving as intermediaries for private lenders and borrowers.  

Published in Alternatives

While the Federal Reserve has been successful in lowering inflation over the past 21 months, it still remains uncomfortably high. The consumer price index (CPI) peaked at 9.1% in June 2022 and reached 3.1% in its last reading which remains above the Fed’s 2% target.


Equally relevant, many of the disinflationary impulses which drove the rate of inflation lower have subsided, while there are indications of nascent inflationary pressures budding. For markets, the implication is that the status quo prevails with the Federal Reserve holding rates at 5.50% since July of last year.


While bonds enjoyed a decent rally as the Fed moved from hiking to holding steady, volatility remains elevated due to the current uncertainty about inflation and Fed policy. As a result, the bulk of gains in fixed income proved to be fleeting. According to John Hanock, these conditions are ideal for active fixed income as managers will be able to take advantage of inefficiencies and dislocations caused by the current environment.


The firm believes that active managers will be able to outperform by overweighting quality, intermediate-term bonds, and defensive sectors. It also likes mortgage-backed securities (MBS) due to attractive yields without sacrificing quality. In contrast, it wants to underweight cyclical sectors and high-yield bonds given its concerns about a weakening economy in the second-half of the year. 

Finsum: Volatility has risen for fixed income ever since the outlook for inflation and Fed policy have gotten murkier. Here’s why John Hancock believes active fixed income is the ideal way for investors to take advantage of attractive yields. 


Published in Bonds: Total Market
Friday, 23 February 2024 03:48

High Yield Bonds Outperform in 2024

Junk-bond ETFs showed a slight uptick, suggesting potential outperformance in 2024, especially under a soft-landing scenario for the US economy, according to Michael Arone of State Street Global Advisors. 


While high-yield bonds may surprise investors with their resilience, concerns persist about the Fed's tightening and its impact on economic growth. Despite recent modest gains, ETFs tracking investment-grade bonds are still in the red for the year.


 Investors remain cautious about high-yield spreads and potential widening, with some preferring rate risk over credit risk. Arone suggests a diversified approach, favoring short-term debt and bonds with intermediate durations.

Finsum: Duration management could be the key to weathering the storm in 2024.  

Published in Bonds: Total Market
Friday, 23 February 2024 03:16

Here’s Why High-Yield Bonds Are Outperforming

Recent economic data and tea leaves from Fed officials have resulted in more challenging conditions for fixed income. Essentially, there is much less certainty about the timing and direction of the Fed’s next move as economic data and inflation have been more robust than expected. 


According to Michael Arone, chief investment strategist at State Street, this presents an opportunity with high-yield bonds given that yields are at attractive levels while a strong economy indicates that defaults will remain low. So far this year, high-yield bonds have outperformed with a slight positive return, while the iShares Core US Aggregate Bond ETF (AGG) and Vanguard Total Bond Market ETF (BND) are down YTD.


This is a contrarian trade as high-yield bond ETFs have had $387 million of outflows YTD, while fixed income ETFs have had $2.8 billion of net inflows YTD. It’s also a way for fixed income investors to bet that the US economy continues to defy skeptics and avoid a recession despite the Fed’s aggressive rate hikes. 


Currently, high-yield bonds have an average spread of 338 basis points vs Treasuries. Many of the most popular high-yield ETFs have effective durations between 3 and 4 years which means there is less rate risk. Spreads have remained relatively tight and could widen in the event of the economy slowing. 

Finsum: High-yield ETFs are offering an interesting opportunity given attractive yields. This segment of the fixed income market also is benefiting from recently strong economic data which indicates that default rates will remain low.


Published in Bonds: Total Market
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