Eq: Large Cap
Some are very worried a junk bond bear market might be on its way. Not only are rates and yields rising fast, but there has been a huge run up in high yield prices over the years, with a simultaneous surge in bottom rung BBB bonds. However, despite this scary back drop, the market has been doing well and looks set to continue to do so. “The key dynamic in the high-yield market is recession … There’s a possibility of some economic shock that isn’t apparent right now, but you don’t have the classic signs pointing to recession”, says one CIO. High yield’s spread to Treasuries recently touched its lowest point since the Crisis, and in a twist, the lowest rated bonds (CCC) are performing the best this year.
FINSUM: This is quite confounding in many ways, especially considering there have been significant outflows from junk bond funds and investors can get good returns from investment grade.
The biggest dividend sectors, such as utilities and REITs, are getting hammered alongside the selloff in bonds. With treasury yields surging on Wednesday, utilities and REITs fell as much as bond prices. Dividend stocks had been experiencing a month of strong performance, but fears have been rising since the last Fed meeting, when the central bank took on a decidedly more hawkish tone.
FINSUM: We are concerned for dividend stocks right now because we think the big move higher in yields might have reset the market’s thresholds. Is the next stop 3.5% on the 10-year?
Dividend stocks may have done well over the last month, but generally speaking, the last decade has been bleak. With the exception of a few months and quarters, dividend stocks have been largely out of favor with investors, who have instead devoted their capital to quick-growing growth stocks, especially in the tech sector. That said, the next year may be very good for good dividend payers, as yields are attractive and payouts are growing quickly. According to one portfolio manager in the space, “We are getting those yields and dividend growth—this is going to be a very good year for dividend growth—from the usual suspects”.
FINSUM: This seems like a risky bet to us. While dividend stocks have a place in the portfolio, the risk of rate rises to dividend sectors is considerable.
October is usually associated with market panics and gives investors a general sense of anxiety. Many of the greatest market meltdowns occurred in October, including 1929, 1987, and 2008. However, this October seems likely to be different, says Barron’s. In fact, good Octobers are not infrequent. It may surprise investors to learn that October has the highest average return of any month in the last 20 years. But the reason this year might be good is that there is a midterm election in November, a factor that has historically made October a strong month for returns.
FINSUM: When you put together the numerous factors supporting markets with the midterm elections next month, it seems like this October will be a good one.
In a sign that is setting off alarm bells on Wall Street, the market’s safest stocks have been surging of late. Investors are increasingly demanding “quality” stocks as a buffer against a potential downturn in the market. “Quality” stocks usually refers to to companies with a range of positive characteristics like high profitability and low debt. However, market strategists point out that such stocks are so well bought that they might not have their intended effect, “Quality factors are well bid so may not be as defensive as people expect”. ETFs that track “quality” stocks have been surging.
FINSUM: One can understand the flight to quality given very high valuations and the hawkish Fed, but it is still a worrying sign that so many feel the need to take cover.
That is quite a counterintuitive headline, but in an odd way, it could not be more true. Bloomberg has put out a piece, which echoes many advisors, that the current bull market could actually end up hurting many retirees. The reason why is that many have experienced hefty gains in the last decade and feel comfortable retiring. However, after such a sharp run higher, the market is likely to experience a steep correction. For retirees seeking to steadily withdraw money from their accounts, this could pose a major problem, as a drop in the market could cause such significant damage to portfolio value that even outperformance in subsequent years may not make up for it.
FINSUM: This is a valuable point that all retirees and their advisors need to bear in mind. Portfolio construction and planning definitely need to take this threat into account.