In the face of record inflation, the Virtus Real Assets Income ETF (VRAI) has done extraordinarily well, up 19% year-to-date, and significantly beating the S&P 500, which is up 14%. On top of this, the ETF generates compelling income of 3%, well above the 10 Year US Treasuries at 1.5%.
Investing in real assets is a winning strategy in an inflationary environment because tangible assets such as real estate, natural resources and infrastructure have intrinsic value. VRAI is the first ETF focused on real assets. Additionally, because of VRAI’s focus on income-generating real assets, VRAI also generates attractive income.
In terms of ETF construction, VRAI is designed to be one-stop solution for real asset exposure. VRAI consists of 90 US-traded companies, equally divided between real assets, natural resources, and infrastructure. Companies are filtered based upon market capitalization and selected based upon dividend yield. All stocks are equally weighted to ensure portfolio diversification.
Finally, in terms of costs, VRAI is very competitively priced at 55 bps (0.55%). This stands stark contrast to most energy and real estate ETFs and mutual funds, which typically cost over 100 bps (or 1%).
For more information on the investment case, check out this research piece produced by Virtus
n.b. This is sponsored content and not FINSUM editorial
Choosing the right broker-dealer is a pivotal decision for any advisor, and while the three P's — payouts, products, and platforms — often take precedence, overlooking cultural fit could be a critical mistake. Cultural fit transcends the more tangible aspects of a broker-dealer, offering a sustainable competitive edge that cannot be easily replicated.
Compensation differences and the allure of superior products or platforms might seem enticing initially, but they tend to level out over time. Culture, on the other hand, is ingrained. It's the ethos of the company, the collective behavior, and the beliefs that characterize the organization. According to James L. Heskett, Professor Emeritus at Harvard Business School, culture is not just a peripheral factor; it can "account for 20-30% of the differential in corporate performance when compared with 'culturally unremarkable' competitors."
The disruption caused by moving broker-dealers can be significant. It affects relationships, routines, and can even impact client perception. That's why ensuring a broker-dealer aligns with your values, work style, and vision for client service is vital. A broker-dealer with a compatible culture can provide a supportive environment, fostering growth and satisfaction that pure financial incentives cannot match.
Finsum: Ensuring cultural fit is essential when selecting a broker-dealer for advisors— it's the strategic edge that impacts performance and satisfaction.
Sure tech investors have had their share of ups and downs, but they have been largely insulated from the market’s bigger losses but things could change. The underlying trends in the technology sector are looking as bad as they have in a long time. There is severe weakness in consumer-oriented hardware products. Moreover, as supply chains relax these prices could fall further. Additionally, sub-sectors such as enterprise tech spending are starting to deteriorate. The weakening demand is beginning to show at the company level as earnings season shows signs of weakness in technology. While there have been outliers such as Cisco, the market might not be ready for widespread tech deterioration.
Finsum: The other huge problem is rising interest rates and rampant inflation which lower the value of future earnings and make growth stocks less attractive.
Congress continues to look for ways to fund the $1.85 trillion bill that aims to spend on social and climate policy. While they have already considered objectives that would align the U.S. with the G20’s global minimum tax rate, the current bill will also affect wealthier individuals’ retirement vehicles. Congress will put limits on large accounts for individuals or couples with $10 million dollar retirement balances. The newest Build Back Better bill also eliminates the ‘backdoor’ Roth IRA by minimizing rollovers and conversions. The date for the former rule change isn’t until Dec. 31, 2028 but the backdoor loophole is set to close Dec. 31st of this year in the current bill.
FINSUM: Substantial changes to savings and retirement could be coming in the upcoming legislation, and investors should be aware of how these changes could affect their retirement vehicles.
The European Stockxx 600 was up .5% on Friday driven by earning releases in the banking sector. That trend followed around the globe as Asia-Pacific’s Taiex index boosted 2% and Wallstreet’s S&P was up 2%. It was strong financial earnings in U.S., and semiconductors in the East pushing the Taiex. All of this happens as inflations concerns continue in the U.S. as consumer prices rose 5.4% on the year, but the Euro areas are seeing the opposite results as monthly inflation was negative in France. The common price thread is definitely in energy prices as Brent crude hit $84.40 a barrel.
FINSUM: The trickling earning reports have generally exceeded expectations. That trend looks to continue, and global portfolios are not only diverse but are outperforming.
The U.S. had two consecutive quarters of negative growth meeting the technical requirements of a recession, and for the first time in over 40 years that coincided with very high inflation. Tasked with generating high returns in a stagflation environment investors are turning to an odd place, emerging markets. While some EM has suffered as a result of a stronger dollar and Fed tightening, pockets are promising to bring big returns in higher growth environments abroad. Countries relying on exports will have a difficult time, but countries like India, Malaysia, and Indonesia all have fairly robust domestic consumer demand and are quick-growing economies. The last country is an oddball but China has continued to deliver stimulus throughout the pandemic and may put itself in a good position to capture investor attention.
Finsum: Equities abroad are ultra-low, finding the right countries with domestic consumer support could be very profitable.
Stocks whose prices trail their implied intrinsic value are often seen as attractive investments primarily due to their undervaluation. But a recent article by Vanguard suggests another reason value stocks may be worth considering now. Historically, value stocks have outperformed their “growth” counterparts in times of economic recovery.
The report quotes Kevin DiCiurcio, CFA, head of the Vanguard Capital Markets Model® research team, as he makes the case. “So, if you believe that the Federal Reserve may have engineered a soft landing—that we’re going to sidestep a recession and that the economy’s next move is an acceleration—the case for value is strengthened.”
According to their research published in August, 2023, Vanguard estimated that value stocks were priced more than 51% below their fair value prediction. They stated, “It’s well-known... that asset prices can stray meaningfully from perceived fair values for extended periods. However, as we explained in (previous research), deviations from fair value and future relative returns share an inverse and statistically significant relationship over five- and 10-year periods.”
This observation adds one more reason value stocks are worth a look. In addition to favorable valuations and historically consistent dividends, the possibility that value stocks may shine during the coming economic recovery many anticipate, is another factor to consider. Whether held directly, within a passive allocation, or as part of a Separately Managed Account, now is a perfect time to revisit the case for value stocks in your client’s portfolios.
Finsum: Vanguard's research highlights value stock historical outperformance during economic recoveries.
The power of – expansion.
That’s what Dimensional Fund Advisors is doing, expanding its exchange traded fund offerings with seven new ETFs, according to thinkadvisor.com.
They come onboard with the US Core Equity 1 ETF and upcoming launches of three global fixed income ETFs and a U.S. Large Cap Vector ETF, which were launched not long ago.
“We continue to evolve our investment offering to meet demand from financial professionals and add value,” Co-CEO and Chief Investment Officer Gerard O’Reilly said in a release. “These ETFs are another set of tools in Dimensional’s growing lineup, which we expect will meet diverse investor needs across asset classes and geographies.”
To build your own ETF portfolio – or discover a one ticket option – you might consider the MoneySense ETF finder tool, according to moneysense.ca.
For jacking up growth, investors can build a core portfolio and delve into other investing options. You can, say, pluck an investment in ETFs with themes. They might range from electric vehicles to artificial intelligence.
Alternative investments can add value to portfolios by boosting returns and leading to increased diversification according to a recent UBS white paper on the subject. Within the category, it favors specialist credit hedge funds, macro hedge funds, secondaries in private equity, and specific types of private debt. However, it does note that investors should be aware that there is a tradeoff in terms of reduced liquidity.
The firm recommends a 20% allocation and believes that it could lead to an annual increase of 50 basis points in the long term. It’s increasingly of interest given the asset class’s strong performance in 2022 when stocks and bonds both delivered double-digit, negative returns. In contrast, most diversified alternatives’ indices saw performance between -6% and +17%. In terms of forward returns, the bank forecasts return between 6% and 11% over a full business cycle.
In terms of specific strategies, UBS recommends specialist credit hedge funds which focus on differences between strong and weak companies. It also favors secondaries in private equities and notes some attractive discounts in the space. The bank also sees upside to private debt given that yields are around 12% with lower default risk than high-yield credit.
Finsum: UBS is bullish on alternative assets. It believes that the asset class can boost returns while also increasing diversification.
Last year was a terrible year for the markets, even for many hedge funds. According to investment data firm Preqin, hedge fund returns were down 6.5% in 2022, the largest drop since the 13% decline in 2008 during the financial crisis. That’s why global hedge fund managers are preparing for persistent inflation by seeking exposure to commodities and bonds that perform well in inflationary environments. A majority of 10 global asset and hedge fund managers that were surveyed by Reuters said commodities are undervalued and should thrive as global inflation stays elevated this year. In addition, they are also seeking inflation-linked bonds to shield against price rises, and exposure to certain corporate credit, as higher rates restore differentiation in company bond spreads. For instance, London-based hedge fund manager, Crispin Odey is betting inflation will remain high. He told Reuters that "Commodities will start to rise again. They've sold off very heavily and are below operating costs in many instances." Danielle Pizzo, chief strategy officer at Schonfeld Strategic Advisors, told Reuters that her firm “Aims to focus more on investment grade and high-yield bonds this year as well as commodities.”
Finsum:Hedge funds, which saw the largest drop in performance last year since the financial crisis, are concerned about persistent inflation and are seeking exposure to commodities and select bonds.
The U.S. has an extended history of periods of financial regulation, specifically trust-busting. That period has been in hibernation though for the last 50 years, that is, until now. Many judges in the United States may be getting a slue of cases related to similar topics with mergers and competition as Private Equity has extended its ownership to unprecedented levels. There is more alignment than ever within the administration on the future of competition and private equity when it comes to policy. They are pursuing new readings and interpretations of longer-standing precedents that will be more stringent on PE. This new strain of regulation has long-standing Democratic Economists like Larry Summers voicing concern, calling the new policies ‘populist antitrust’.
Finsum: There have been a large number of papers on the effect of co-ownership and competition that private equity companies are imposing, and that could be reaching its peak.