Eq: Large Cap
While some are saying that we are in “TINA” mode with equities (i.e. there is no alternative), high yield bonds have been seeing a big influx of demand. Because dividends are drying up in the stock market, high yield bonds are becoming increasingly attractive, and Bank of America thinks they are going to do well. They point out that yields in some bonds are much higher than similar yields on equities in the same sector and they expect spreads to tighten in the coming quarter. “While the easy money was last quarter, we still see many tailwinds to nudge high-yield spreads tighter in Q3...Markets should be treated to plenty of positive data surprises now that economies are exiting their lockdown hibernation…an essential ingredient for leveraged credit to perform.”
FINSUM: This seems like a reasonable call, but we think the positive data surprises might be a stretch. That said, yield-hungry investors will likely keep the high-yield space humming along.
Covered calls are an old investing methodology, but one that does not get much attention. That said, employing covered calls can be a great income strategy. So what is a covered call? Simply put, it is the process of selling call options while simultaneously holding the underlying shares. The idea is to earn income from selling the call options, while hedging risk by holding the underlying shares. The ideal outcome is that the underlying share price rises but does not hit its strike price, yielding the seller both the income from selling the option and the capital appreciation of the shares.
FINSUM: In markets with big momentum this is not a great strategy, but in back and forth ones like those at present, it can be very effective for increasing income. There are a number of funds that also employ this strategy so you don’t have to do it manually.
Big debt investors are pouring dollars into risky debt markets and products, such as CLOs and their subprime-backed assets. Why you may ask? (as anyone might right now) The answer is that the riskiest borrowers are surviving this downturn much better than anyone expected. Spreads between subprime-backed products and US Treasuries have narrowed sharply, while new deals have seen big demand. According to an analyst at Loomis Sayles “What is surprising is how strong credit performance has been … Fiscal policy is really keeping the subprime borrower afloat”.
FINSUM: Regardless of whether or not you are involved in this market, it is good news that the demand for these securities is actually being driven by fundamentals. It is both a sign of economic resilience, and also of market rationality.
There has been a major change in the stock market’s attitude toward the president over the last several weeks. For a long time, the market was very concerned with Trump winning. If Trump looked weak in polls, it was bad for markets. According to RBC, for the last 12 months, the S&P 500 has moved mostly in line with Trump’s odds for reelection. According to the bank, ““For the past year, expectations as to whether Trump will win again in November (as tracked by the betting markets) have been moving in sync with S&P 500 performance … But that relationship has broken down a bit in early June, with Trump’s chances (according to the betting markets) falling and the S&P 500 surging”.
FINSUM: Markets care much more about the economy than they do Trump, and everyone seems to be betting that COVID stimulus will keep going even if Trump loses.
May was a rough month for dividend stocks. Many companies announced the suspension of dividends or at least a cut. However, 11 companies in the S&P 500 announced dividend increases. That is an interesting group to look at because it likely means their businesses are thriving. Ten of those are: Medtronic, PepsiCo, Clorox, Cardinal Health, Chubb, Expeditors International of Washington, Baxter International, Northrop Grumman, TE Connectivity, Ameriprise Financial.
FINSUM: Pepsi and Clorox are the most interesting of the bunch for us. Both are consumer staples and because of their unique positioning, both seem likely to thrive.
Dividend stocks do not seem like a bad bet right now, so long as they are names with reliable dividends. Interest rate risk seems very minor, and stocks with decent cash flow appear likely to do well as yields stay ultra-low. These value stocks are favored by analysts because they are priced with much less bullish outlooks, meaning they have an additional margin of safety versus growth stocks. Here are the stocks: CenturyLink, Unum (UNM), Westrock (WRK), AT&T, HP, Xerox, Principal Financial, MetLife, and Tyson Foods.
FINSUM: This is a nice mix of stocks that should naturally be un-correlated to one another.