Eq: Large Cap

(New York)

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.

(New York)

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?

(New York)

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.

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