Eq: Large Cap
As our readers will know, we spent the better part of last week at the Inside ETFs conference. As part of our time there, we are planning to feature a couple of ETFs which we think might be interesting to advisors. The first one we want to feature is a special fund from Legg Mason, the fund is called the Legg Mason Low Volatility High Dividend ETF (LVHD). We were lucky enough to meet with one of the fund’s specialists, Josh Greco, at the conference, and his passion for the fund’s approach really shined through. The fund’s own words describe it best, it seeks to track “the investment results of an underlying index composed of equity securities of U.S. companies with relatively high yield and low price and earnings volatility … LVHD may benefit investors who want income but are concerned about the volatility that can come from traditional equity income investments”. Basically, the idea is to get yield and upside, without so much of the volatility that is traditionally associated with equities. Mr. Greco contextualized the utility of the approach succinctly and convincingly, explaining that as clients’ lives elongate they are going to need to stay in equities longer to get capital appreciation. Accordingly, this fund seeks to de-risk some of that necessary exposure while still giving significant upside and yield. The fund has about $600m in AUM, is widely available, has an expense ratio of 0.27%, and a dividend yield of 3.48%.
FINSUM: In our mind, this fund does an excellent job of fusing some of the best elements of fixed income (yields and less volatility) with the best part of stocks (capital appreciation). It may be a great fit for older clients that need to keep a significant allocation to equities. It is also quite affordable at 0.27%.
High yield had a very bleak run to finish 2018. The asset class went over 40 days without a single sale as the junk credit market seized up. However, it has made a comeback in a major way. The first five weeks of 2019 saw a staggering 5.25% gain in the Bloomberg Barclays US Corporate High Yield Index. New issues were quite oversubscribed (more than double), and the general mood has completely shifted.
FINSUM: The Fed backing off on rates sure makes a difference! It is interesting the market reacted this sharply given that high yield is relatively more insulated from rates. In our view, the turnaround is largely a relief rally that the Fed won’t push the economy into a recession.
The market has hit a rough patch the last couple of days, falling almost 1% yesterday. Investors have once again grown anxious about slowing growth and trade tensions between the US and Mexico. Despite this renewed anxiety, Bank of America Merrill Lynch is encouraging investors to buy the dip. The bank has frustration about the “stubbornly flat” yield curve, but says that “The correct strategy in 2018 was ‘sell-the-rip’; Positioning, Policy, Profits and Populism argue the correct early 2019 trading strategy is to ‘buy-the-dip”.
FINSUM: The market has bounced back a long way from Xmas eve. In some ways it feels too much too fast, but then again, valuations are more sensible and the Fed has backed off.
Dividend stocks have not been looking as appealing lately because of the rise in rates. Yields on even short-term assets now look much more attractive than the near zero coupons that were being offered a few years ago. That said, dividend stocks have a special niche within a portfolio, and it is not hard to find some very solid stocks with good yields. One of the best ways to buy dividend stocks is through an ETF that can select a large and balanced group. With that in mind, here are three ETFs to do just that: ProShares Dividend Aristocrat ETF (NOBL), the SPDR S&P Dividend ETF (SDY), and the Vanguard Dividend Appreciation ETF (VIG).
FINSUM: With the Fed showing dovishness on rates, the outlook for dividend stocks has suddenly brightened.
Are you hoping for a return to big company buybacks? For the few years before last year’s big losses, buybacks were a big part of the nice returns seen by the market. A return to such behavior, while questionable on the part of companies, would likely help support share prices. Well, JP Morgan thinks it’ll be another major year for buybacks. Just like last year, companies are expected to announce over $1 tn of buybacks on the back of the benefits from Trump’s tax cuts. Overseas cash is expected to help power the repurchases.
FINSUM: We are not particular fond of the underlying financials of buybacks (at least when companies issue debt to do so), but do think this would be very supportive of share prices this year.
The junk bond market may be coming back from the dead. The “December doughnut”, as it is being called, is now in the past, and the frozen market finally thawed this week with the first new junk bond sale since November. The market had gone 41 days without a sale until Tuesday, when $4 bn of new issuance went through.
FINSUM: A 41-day freeze and then 4 sales in one day totaling over $4bn. Demand was so high the companies were able to raise more than expected. Maybe the worst is behind the high yield market?