Displaying items by tag: yields
Munis had a wild and rough year in 2020. Everyone who invests in the sector is wondering what’s next. While the lack of direct state and municipal aid in the recent congressional package is a downer for muni investors, there is a lot to be happy about. Election certainty, good news on the vaccine front, and the inauguration of Biden are all raising the sector’s prospects. Biden is seen as more likely to help local state and municipalities with aid, which has raised prospects for the sector. Downgrades are a risk, but widespread defaults seem unlikely.
FINSUM: On the whole, things seem like they are set up for a pretty positive year. As to the possibility of downgrades, it is worth noting that downgrades usually trail economic performance, so they would take a while to come through.
Munis have long been very popular with HNW clients because of their tax exempt income. However, a new—and slightly confusing—part of the industry is increasingly becoming popular. That new niche is taxable muni bonds. According to Barron’s “Taxable municipal bonds are the fastest-growing sector in U.S. fixed income. This year, issuance has totaled more than $170 billion, double the $85 billion sold in all of 2019. The total market has grown to $700 billion—sizable but still below the $3.7 trillion tax-exempt muni market”. Many think the new vaccines will give a boost to munis, which have suffered under COVID.
FINSUM: If you are interested in this market, check out Invesco’s Taxable Municipal Bond ETF (BAB).
Small caps are looking strong, and seem likely to outperform large caps over the next year. Small caps have seen two decidedly positive trends over the last month—an outperformance relative to the S&P 500, and increasing breadth. From a technical perspective, those are both encouraging. On the fundamental front, small caps are starting to follow a well-trodden path to success. Historically, every period since 1990 in which the Russell 2000 has outperformed the S&P 500, spreads have been widening. Bond watchers will have noticed that Treasuries have risen 28-40 bp recently across different maturities. Since that rise in yields seems likely to continue because of the growing debt needs of the US government, small caps may be in for a good run.
FINSUM: We really like this logic. Small caps tend to have a higher beta to GDP, so rising yields (hopefully indicating a better economic environment) should create additional spread widening, and thus be positive and create some continued outperformance.
Dividends have had a tough year. Because of the pandemic, many companies have had to cut their dividends in the face of losses or declining profitability. Even some who have maintained or raised dividends cannot really afford to do so. Therefore stable, rising dividends with healthy underlying companies are very prized right now. Here are some good names to look at: Whirlpool, Avery Dennison, American Electric Power, and Crown Castle International. All four have recently raised their dividends on the back of robust business. Whirlpool, a major appliance manufacturer seems to be riding the home improvement wave, while Avery Dennison, which makes packaging, is likely benefitting from ecommerce gains. The others (a utility and a cell tower company) have inherently durable businesses.
FINSUM: Cell towers, utilities, and packaging materials seem like very strong areas even if the pandemic gets worse this winter, and there is almost zero rate risk at present.
The yield environment is a terrible one for anyone who is seeking income from their investments, especially those in retirement who may be living on a fixed income. So where can investors seek strong domestic yields? Check out mortgage REITs. Mortgage REITs have long offered some of the highest yields in markets because of the leverage they utilize. Most of the group have yields over 10%. Look at the following names as an example: AGNC Investment Corp. (AGNC, yield 10.2%), Annaly Capital Management, Inc (NLY, 12.9%), Anworth Mortgage Asset Corporation (NH, 14%), and Armour Residential REIT (ARR, 12.3%).
FINSUM: So obviously mortgage REITs have significant interest rate risk, but can you imagine a period where interests rates seem less likely to rise?