Love is in the air this Valentines week and many income investors are smitten with the returns of their high yield investments. The steady march higher in assets like junk bonds, preferred stocks, emerging market debt, and even leveraged closed-end funds has remunerated shareholders for their faith.
The poster child of this strength may well be the iShares iBoxx $ High Yield Corporate Bond ETF (HYG). This well-known fund, which invests in a passive index of high yield U.S. corporate debt, has gained more than 22% over the last year. That jump includes both price gains and income distribution over a 52-week period. It also bests every corner of the U.S. fixed-income sector map by a wide margin. Read more
The volatility in the biotech space over the last two years has been quite a sight to behold. I’m not strictly speaking of volatility in terms of downside either. There has been money to be made on both sides of the market for those that have been nimble in their trades.
Most ETF investors are probably familiar with trading the iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology ETF (IBB). This market-cap weighted giant has $8.2 billion dedicated to a basket of 164 stocks in the biotech research and medical services fields. As you can see on the chart below, this index has been on a rollercoaster ride of whipsaws in both directions over the last year.
Retail stocks have become a highly-publicized area of the market in recent years as the continued struggle for brick and mortar relevance battle the efficiency of online sales. The trend has been exacerbated with the steady expansion of retail juggernaut Amazon Inc (AMZN) into more and more households. The strength of Amazon has unavoidably weighed on the share prices of more traditional retailers that find themselves strung with slowing sales and inescapable costs.
There is no doubt that consumerism is alive and well in the heart of the American economy. Which is why it’s worth considering if the pendulum of momentum will eventually swing back in the direction of numerous stalwart retail competitors.
Income investors with large taxable accounts are consistently focused on maximizing their total return and minimizing the impact of taxes on their nest egg. That means seeking out funds that are sensitive to the type of income they produce and the implications of using capital losses to offset gains.
Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are one avenue for investors to consider in this pursuit. Many ETFs that track a passive index have low portfolio turnover rates and often pay little to zero capital gains at year-end. These make for a truly inexpensive and effective vehicle for tax-conscious investors that want diversified stock or bond exposure. Read more
This month’s video takes an in-depth look at the closed-end fund marketplace. Charts include both diversified CEF indexes and single fund names. Overall the trend remains solid, however we are starting to see stretched premiums and tight discounts across the entire spectrum. Risk is high and caution should be warranted at this stage of the cycle. Video recorded after the market close on February 8, 2017.