Eq: Large Cap
One of the odd things about the recession fears since December is that spreads on junk bonds have not risen. Usually, junk bonds sell-off when there are recession fears, as they are the riskiest credits and likely to suffer the worst downturns. However, the opposite has happened in junk, with spreads to investment grade very tight. In fact, investors are picking up so little extra yield in junk bonds, that in many cases they are not even worth the risk. Spreads are tied for their narrowest since the Financial Crisis at just 60 basis points.
FINSUM: The last time spreads got this tight was last October, right before the market tanked. Warning sign.
The S&P 500 is up almost 4% since the end of February. Those are good numbers in anyone’s book. But some stocks in the index are absolutely scorching the market. Take a look at: Nvidia (NVDA), Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), Conagra Foods (CAG), Dentsply Sirona (XRAY), and Chipotle (CMG). NVDA is up 24% since the end of February, while Chipotle is up 17% since then, and about 123% in the last year. All the stocks have positive drivers behind them.
FINSUM: If you are momentum investor, these stocks are certainly top picks.
Investors are always looking for good yields. While bonds are seeing higher yields now, high paying stocks offer something special because of the chance of capital appreciation. Such investors might be tempted by financial stocks right now, which are sporting juicy yields. However, Goldman Sachs is warning that investors need to beware. JP Morgan and other banks have been beaten up over the last year and are sporting payouts of above 3% in some cases. However, the big risk that is financial stocks are highly rate sensitive and tend to lose value as rates fall because of their lower profitability in such times. This pushes up dividends, but moves prices lower.
FINSUM: If you think we are even close to heading into a recession, buying financials is not a good idea. If you think this is a false signal, then banks may be a great buying opportunity right now.
We wanted to write an article about a new fund we discovered in our regular course of business, but that got us excited. One of our gripes with ETFs is that there always seems to be a dearth of ways to express short-term tactical opportunities, or own a fund that does so. That is why we were excited to find a fund in New York Life’s IndexIQ ETF lineup. The fund, the IQ Merger Arbitrage ETF (MNA), seeks to gain capital appreciation by buying companies that have had public takeover announcements. The fund also includes a short on global equities as a partial hedge. Merger arbitrage is a common hedge fund strategy.
FINSUM: This is one of those area where we often wish we had exposure, but don’t have the time to actually enact a strategy, so this IndexIQ fund is very useful. The fund has a 75 basis point expense ratio.
Advisors tend to really like dividend stocks, and it makes sense why: clients need good income as they head into retirement. However, this desire leads some (especially retail investors) to overreach, choosing high paying, but ultimately fragile or unsustainable stocks. Right now is a good time to be looking for quality dividend payers, as their valuations relative to the market are the lowest in about 20 years. Some high quality names to look at include Macy’s (6.2%), General Motors (4.1%), Kellogg (4.1%), and Verizon (4.2%).
FINSUM: One of the best ways to judge the quality of dividend stocks is through focusing on free cash flow as that measure shows whether companies can really afford what they are paying out without hurting their underlying business.
Markets have moved so fast that investors are now once again braced with the question that plagued them for almost a decade—how to get some income in a low yield world. Ten-year Treasuries are now yielding a very weak 2.36%, way down from the 3.2% they reached in 2018. That means investors need a place to park money. High yield savings accounts are still looking like a strong option, while a plethora of dividend funds and dividend stocks now look much more appealing than just a couple of months ago. Yield-sensitive sectors like REITs and utilities also have good outlooks.
FINSUM: The good news for investors is that short-term yields are still high, so it is not nearly as hard to get good yielding, low duration, investments as it was a few years ago.