Eq: Large Cap
Want to maintain your portfolio’s income, but also afraid of rising rates? Many are, as it is a difficult challenge keep income high but not experience losses. With that in mind, here are a handful of mutual funds which should help do just that. One area to look for diversified income right now is in multi-asset income funds. Some of the best are the American Funds Income Fund of America (AMECX), the Vanguard Wellesley Income (VWINX), the BlackRock Multi-Asset Income (BAICX), the JPMorgan Income Builder (JNBAX), and the Principal Global Diversified Income (PGBAX).
FINSUM: Many of these funds are quite old and have had great performance. Fees are all over the map, but one of the areas where they tend to succeed is in having good performance with lower volatility than the market as a whole.
By now one would have expected junk bonds to have experienced a large selloff. The sector already had a low spread to Treasuries, has mountains of fringe credits, and has been facing a period of rising rates. Yet, high yield has been performing very well, with the weakest credits, paradoxically, performing best. There has been no sustained flight out of the sector, and spreads are higher than at the start of the month, but still not even where they were for much of the year.
FINSUM: The big risk here is that investors aren’t being paid enough for the risks they are taking. The whole junk sector, not to mention the loads of BBB credits that are technically investment grade, are very susceptible to recession and higher rates. At some point there are going to be some major losses.
Junk bonds have had a rough monthly, and it is not hard to see why. The rise in yields and the anxiety about stocks have combined to push yields on junk steeply higher, from 6.18% on October 1st to 6.61% now. In aggregate, the bonds are down 1%+ this month. However, the truth is that the losses could have been much worse, and within that idea, is an important story. That story is that ETFs, which have offered much greater ease of access to investors, actually seemed to have supported prices in the recent turmoil. The head of bond trading at Oppenheimer put it best, saying “The ETF market, which was supposed to subtract liquidity from credit markets, is actually adding liquidity by aggregating the risk and bringing in people who want to take macro risk as opposed to micro bond level risk … The ETF market ends up providing the live bid-ask spread that even the credit markets themselves cannot generate”.
FINSUM: This is a fascinating argument as it runs counter to the long-running narrative about how fixed income ETFs could cause a big blow up because of a “liquidity mismatch” between ETFs and the underlying asset.
If you are looking for the canary in the coal mine for the current market turbulence, look no further than a handful of stocks that should show investors where things are headed. Especially for the Dow. The index’s gains this year have largely come from three stocks: Apple, Boeing, and UnitedHealth Group. 16 stocks in the 30-stock index have losses this year, but because of the quirky way the Dow is calculated, some smaller market capitalization companies have much more weight than larger ones (weighting is done by share price not market cap). Accordingly, this trio has outsized importance to the index, and if they fall, the Dow is likely to get badly hurt.
FINSUM: The Dow is quite funky, but this story points out just how vulnerable the whole index looks right now.
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.
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?