Barron’s has published a wide-ranging article look at the whole “income” universe and where investors should put their money. The caveat is that it is a hard time to invest for income because yields are so low. That said, there are some opportunities. A few short-term bond funds look quite compelling at the moment. Two funds from Pioneer (MAFRX) and Pimco (PFIAX) both look interesting, sporting yields of 3-3.5% on bonds with much lower rate risk. Junk bonds are yielding 6%, but you can get over 7% in closed end junk funds. Munis look like a good buy on a fundamental basis, but their yields are quite low; versus Treasuries they still have good relative value, however.
FINSUM: The trick here is that many want to keep some bonds in their portfolio despite what has gone on in fixed income markets. We would stick to short-term bonds for the most part as they have comparable yields to longer-term offerings, but less risk.
Utilities just hit a new high. So what else is new. Utility stocks have been surging this year alongside falling rates, and they are not the only ones. Consumer staples, consumer discretionary and even tech have been rising strongly. Not only do the dividends look appealing, but the stable earnings profile is attractive given the threat of a downturn. What is most impressive is that utilities have held up even though value has been surging. According to Goldman Sachs “With the Fed cutting rates again this week and the 10-year yield at 1.78% [now 1.71%], utilities continue to perform well, despite NT headwinds as broader momentum trades reversed slightly”.
FINSUM: As long as there is downward pressure on rates, we suspect dividend stocks will be strong. But it wouldn’t take much to reverse that.
Dividends hold an interesting place in the current market environment. On the one hand, their yields are looking more attractive after the big fall in bond yields. However, some think the bond rally is very fragile and that it will either fall in a big way or at least stall, in which case the outlook for dividend stocks is bleak. So how to handle the environment? One tip is to buy dividend stocks with the fastest dividend growth, not the highest yield, as they have been fairing the best and will likely be the most resistant to rate fluctuations. One research analyst in the space summarized the situation this way, saying “Companies exhibiting stronger earnings growth to support regular dividend hikes have been in greater demand than those more value-oriented ones offering higher income streams”.
FINSUM: Those with the best trending yields will likely be more defensible than those with higher but more stagnant yields.
It is a rough time to find income. The big move downward in yields has crimped payouts to a significant extent. So where can investors find good yield without taking excess risk? Treasury yields are paltry, most stocks aren’t offering much, and high yield bonds look vulnerable in the context of a possible recession. So where can investors look? The answer might be RMBS, or residential mortgage backed securities, especially those unbacked by federal agencies. These are offered by a number of high profile funds, such as the Pimco Mortgage Opportunities and Bond Fund (PMZIX), or the Metropolitan West Unconstrained Bond fund (MWCIX). Yields are typically between 3% to 5%, and critically, the underlying return is linked to the health of the US consumer, a group that has been doing very well despite broader macroeconomic headwinds.
FINSUM: We like this call given the housing market is not broadly feeling bubbly and consumers seem to be in quite good shape.
Advisors and their clients love dividend stocks. They have some of the stability and income of bonds, but also all of the capital appreciation characteristics of equities. However, advisors may want to stop buying them, argues Barron’s. The reason why is that most of the big fall in bond yields is likely priced in, which means likely all of the gains for dividend stocks have already been made and there is likely little appreciation left. Accordingly, the path of least resistance is probably down.
FINSUM: The big fall in bond yields was bullish for dividend stocks as they get comparatively more attractive as yields fall. However, if the fall in yields stalls, it is hard to imagine dividend stocks could go anywhere but downward.