Displaying items by tag: yields
Investors need to keep a very sharp eye on the bond market. The yield curve is steepening without any associated rise in economic activity. The reason why has to do with the election. Biden has been rising in the polls, and investors have been increasingly betting he will emerge victorious as part of a blue sweep. If that happens, it is assumed the US would issue a great deal more debt to fund stimulus packages. This means there would be significantly more Treasury bond supply than at present, and potentially calls into question the credit of the US government. As evidence of this trend, the spread between 5- and 30-year Treasuries just hit its largest since 2016.
FINSUM: This is a potential black swan event that no one has seen coming. The election seemed like it would be a dead heat through election day, but if the needle moves more towards Biden, the whole picture for fixed income will change.
Dividend stocks have gotten a whole lot harder to choose this year. It used to be that you could pick a wide selection of stable decent-yielding stocks and hold them for the long haul. However, COVID has disrupted that in many ways, as it has disproportionately weakened some sectors and disrupted many business models. With that in mind, here are three key lessons to remember when choosing dividend stocks in 2020: expect lower payouts, be wary of financing, don’t chase after yields. The first one is simple—many companies have had to cut dividends and many more will. The second is highly related to the first: be wary when companies have to use debt in order to maintain a dividend. In that sense, simply maintaining the dividend is not necessarily a sign of strength. Finally, and most interestingly, is the lesson about not chasing yields. Because yields are so low, dividend stocks are likely to see gains anyway, so it is more important to focus on the sustainability of dividends than chase yields that might collapse.
FINSUM: All of these lessons make a great deal of sense in the current environment. We particularly like the idea that stocks which don’t have the very highest dividends might actually produce the best combined returns.
The fixed income market used to be where you went for safety and steady income. Those days seem long ago, and fixed income is not just as likely as any other asset class to eb the riskiest and most volatile in your portfolio. Between COVID and the Fed, interest rates are extremely low, with yields low and bond price very high, and vulnerable. Some have been comparing the situation to Japan in the 1990s and beyond, but there is a huge difference that makes the US bond market much worse than Japan ever was—inflation. When Japan started its massive zero rate, ultra-low yield period, it was experiencing deflation, which meant there was still a positive real rate. But that is not true in the US today, as yields are actually well below real-world inflation, meaning genuinely negative real interest rates.
FINSUM: There is ultimately going to have to be a reckoning in the bond market, because real returns are not sustainable. That said, it does not seem like the Fed is going to let that happen any time soon.
The better the economy gets, the more banks seem like a good buy. Banks have been rather severely beaten up over the last several months, largely missing on the price recovery of so many other stocks. This is primarily because of two factors—ultra-low interest rates, and the potential for losses on their loan portfolios. However, it is increasingly appearing like loan losses may not be nearly so severe as forecast, and that billions of Dollars set aside to account for such losses may now be released onto earnings over the next couple of quarters.
FINSUM: Two considerations here. Firstly, the idea of loan losses flowing back to the bottom line and causing upside surprises at earnings time sounds great, especially within the longer-term perspective that banks are a good macro bet on the recovery. The downside risk here relates to an article yesterday in BuzzFeed that accused banks (using obtained data on potential fraudulent activity in client accounts) of not following regulations related to money laundering. That could obviously turn into a big mess, but as yet it is unclear if that is a material risk.
Banks have been absolutely hammered since COVID erupted, and they have not come back very much at all. Overall they are down 33% on the year versus a 5% gain for the S&P 500. Worries about loan losses and low interest rates headline the set of fears for the banking sector. However, banks may have an ace in the hole. Early in the year they set aside tens of billions for loan losses—which hurt earnings, but that may now be their good fortune. Loan losses have not been as bad as expected and many suspect that banks may start to let some of those loss provisions flow through to the bottom line in the next couple earnings seasons.
FINSUM: In our view, this would be a double whammy to the upside for the sector. Not only would it result in blowout earnings, but it would officially alleviate a big fear—that loan losses are going to be very bad because of COVID. Altogether seems like a good opportunity.