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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Here's An Interesting One

Alibaba IPO..the largest IPO of all time was on September 19
All time high on the S+P 500 September 19

Alibaba closed at a bit under 94 on its first day of closed on Oct 17 at $88.85

Blackrock Also Sees Opportunities in High Yield Bonds

From Blackrock

The Sell-Off Continues, But an Opportunity Appears

October 15, 2014

by Russ Koesterich

of BlackRock

  • In recent weeks, investors have been contending with two trends: anxiety over a change in Fed policy and evidence of a slowdown in the global economy.
  • While global growth is likely to remain below historic norms, it is not collapsing. This suggests that investors should be positioned for a slow growth environment, not another recession.
  • This, in turn, implies taking some selective risk in asset classes that have become less expensive as a result of the sell-off.
  • One example of an asset that warrants another look: U.S. high yield bonds......
At the same time, the current environment presents the opportunity to take another look at asset classes that had sold off and now look more attractive. One such asset class that had come under pressure, but is now looking relatively appealing, is high yield bonds. The yield difference between high yield bonds and higher-quality, lower-yielding U.S. Treasuries (known as the spread), has widened out to the highest level in a year. This indicates high yield bonds offer better value and yields now than just a few weeks ago. Given that corporate America remains strong and default rates low, high yield now looks likely to provide a reasonable level of income relative to the rest of the fixed income market

Saturday, October 18, 2014

WSj Gives some "Market Analysis and Current"Professionals' Forecasts But Also Includes the Greatest Market Forecast of All Time

 From the article
"It comes as little surprise to Wall Street veterans that the selloff began just after leading strategists at the major investment banks had upgraded their year-end stock market forecasts yet again.
In September, 15 top strategists had raised their year-end target for the S&P 500 to an average of 2010. At the end of last year, they were forecasting 1934. But in just over a month since the upgrades, the S&P has instead tumbled from 2000 to 1887."

The author offers this "insight" for investors
If this is merely a regular correction in the course of a regular economic expansion, the answer may be: Not much further.
Corrections of 5% to 20% are a normal part of the stock market. ...
But it is plausible that this correction might be the start of something much worse.
But the aurthor does make not of the most accurate stock market forecast of all time:
Legendary Wall Street mogul J.P. Morgan once asked for a stock-market forecast, confidently predicted that share prices would fluctuate. And he’s been right ever since

Friday, October 17, 2014

What Is Going on with Etf HYLD Advisorshares Short Term High Yield ?

I have written several times about HYLD advisorshares short term high yield  bond fund. I has sold off sharply in the last few weeks even in advance of the recent stock market selloff. It has also underperformed other high yield bond ETFs as of late. However even with the sharp decline in price (see below) the high yield on the fund is relatively low. The ytd total return is -2% and over the past 12 months the fund is +.1%

 The fund is composed of higher yielding bonds which are considered to have higher credit risk. In periods of panic High Yeild bonds will decline more than treasury bonds and investment grade corporate bonds. The recent readjustments at the major fund manager PIMCO likely led to some large sales of bonds in their portfolio and dislocations in the high yield bond market.

However HYLD has performed worse than other ETFs in its category. I would attribute that to 3 factors all of which should be monitored
  • A concentration in holdings in the energy sector at a time of large declines in energy prices.A bloomberg video report mentions specific losses in energy related high yield bonds.
  • Inclusion in the portfolio of some dividend paying stocks mostly in the energy industry into the portfolio.
  • A lower dividend paid in September vs previous months. The manager attributes this to a missed payment on a bond they held. The bond has been sold at a loss and the impact of that on the portfolio is already reflected in price and asset value. Also many of the stocks held in the portfolio pay dividends quarterly so many of those dividends were paid after last month’s dividend payment on the 27 of September.

At present I don’t see much reason for changes in the fund that is part of the strategic bond allocation. The main long term risk factor for this sector is cashflow to pay interest and principal on the bonds. As the fund adjusts its portfolio the yield on its bonds should increase. Of course the fund is not for the faint of heart and investors should weight that in consideration of the decision as to whether to hold the fund, it likely should be only part of a bond allocation that includes investment grade corporate and US treasury bonds.

My communications with the fund manager indicates their expectation(there are no guarantees) that future dividends will be at the rate of previous months which is around $.45 a share which makes the yield on an annual basis of close to 9% annualized based on current prices. I am in contact with the fund manager on a regular basis.

I am monitoring the HYLD carefully particularly around the next dividend date which is in the latter part of the month. Another disappointment with the dividend would be a reason to reassess an allocation to HYLD.

The fund manager Pertius recently published an update on their blog as to theirviews. The article emphasizes that they concentrate on prospects for cashflow in dividends and interest payments rather than short term price performance. They include the following graph from JP Morgan indicating historical and forecasted default rates

They note that recent price movements have moved the spread of high yield over treasury bonds to over 5%. That has likely increased with the fall in treasury yields of the last few days. The manager views the volatility as an opportunity to make new purchases and has added bonds with yields higher than the spread indicated by the indexes.

Pertius expresses confidence in its holdings in the energy sector despire recent large declines in oil prices. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Three Major Asset Managers Buying Junk Bonds as The Prices Fall

Three  articles of note from Barrons fixed income blog indicating some major bond managers are using the selloff to add holdings in high yield (junk) bonds

October 15 on Blackrock

BlackRock‘s fixed income head, Rick Rieder, says the firm has been adding to its high-yield bond holdings during recent days as the 10-year Treasury yield has plunged, capped by this morning’s free-fall that sent the 10-year yield below 2% for the first time since May 2013 before it rebounded to 2.05%.
Calling it “a bit of a crazy day,” Rieder says the rally followed a confluence of disappointing economic indicators, along with renewed worries about the spread of the Ebola viris, and those contributed to an unwinding of popular trades, namely long-dollar trades, shorts aimed at the front end of the Treasury yield curve, and long positions in risk assets, particularly stocks....
Rieder says BlackRock has been adding to its high-yield corporate bond holdings recently. “High yield is actually holding up incredibly well relative to everything else,” he says. “If nominal yield s are going to be persistently lower, led by other parts of the world, then high yield at 6.5% or 6.75% [yields] is not bad compared with a 10-year [Treasury] at 2%.”
For months, high-yield bond market guru Martin Fridson has been warning about overvaluation, first calling the market “extremely overvalued,” then upgrading that to “way, way overvalued” in May. After the market suffered a brief but intense sell-off in late July, Fridson removed the extreme overvaluation tag, or at least the “extreme” part of that label.
Today Fridson says the market, at long last, is back to being undervalued, or at least “moderately undervalued.” This comes after high yield got pounded amid yesterday’s broadermarket antics, which followed a more prolonged period of weakness.
Fridson, now chief investment officer at wealth management firm Lehmann Livian Fridson Advisors LLC, bases his assessments on his own model for high-yield bond spreads. The market’s average spread has climbed to 508 basis points (yielding 5.08 percentage points more than comparable Treasury bonds) as of the end of the day yesterday from a low of about 340 bps earlier this summer, per a benchmark Bank of America index. 
And October16   on UBS
The high–yield bond market has been suffering lately, and yesterday’s bizarre, wild ride for bonds and stocks alike didn’t do junk bonds any favors, with that market down another 0.55% yesterday, per a benchmark Bank of America Merrill Lynch index. High yield is now down 1.5% over the past week, 2% over the past month and 2.8% since July, trimming year-to-date returns to 2.5%.
Where there’s a rout, there’s a buying opportunity. The average high-yield bond spread over Treasuries has climbed to 508 basis points, meaning junk bonds now yield more than 5 percentage points more than comparable Treasuries. That’s up by 1.6 percentage points from the low spread of about 340 basis points seen in June, when the average junk-bond yield hadfallen to a record-low just under 4.9%. The market’s average yield is up to a much healthier 6.49% today.
Yesterday BlackRock said it’s been buying more junk bonds lately, particularly with high-yield bond yields moving in the opposite direction of plunging Treasury yields. Today UBS Wealth Management says it too is adding to its high-yield holdings,
 Here’s what UBS has to say today:
We believe there has been shift in the relative attractiveness between the equity risk premium and the more defensive credit risk premium, and we add to overweight position in US high yield credit. The recent sell off provides a spread to Treasuries of c. 500bps, or an absolute yield-to-worst of c.6.3%. With the fundamental economic situation in the US still positive, we expect default rates to remain below 2%, allowing for a total expected return of 5-6% over the coming six months, based on our forecasts.

Here is a 10 day price chart of HYG the largest high yield bond ETF

A "Risk Off" Moment in The Markets ?...Are You Sure ?

A standard part of most of the news articles about recent market moves has included the phrase "risk off" indicating investors fleeing from riskier asset classes. Certainly the large gains in price/fall in yields for US  Treasury Bonds fits that description.

But looking at the US stock market the view seems a bit different. Small Cap stocks are considered to be riskier than large cap. This chart shows that US small caps represented by the Russell 2000 (brown line below)  have performed far worse than the large cap S+P 500(SPY). It began its drop already during the first quarter of this year.

Year to Date

Yet here is how the charge looks for the past 5 trading days

5 Days

Looking internationally Emerging markets (etf IEMG) are also considered an asset class sold during "risk off " periods. But here is IEMG(brown) vs SPY ytd and below that the last 5 trading days

Year to Date

5 days

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Bond Market Review Third Quarter 2014

The bond markets fluctuated in reaction to anticipation of future interest rate moves but US treasury bonds put in a strong performance in intermediate and longer term maturities. The long term US Treasury bond ETF gained 4.4% in the quarter. The meager yield of under 2.5% looks attractive vs long term European treasury bonds trading at far lower levels which explains part of the strong performance …German ten year govt bonds are yielding .91%.
 This creates a paradoxical situation for investors. A ten year US treasury bond at a yield under 2.5% is hard to see as a good long term investment. Yet traders looking shorter term at global investment opportunities with low European yields and prospects for a weaker Euro could easily drive yields lower and prices higher for US treasury bonds.
High Yield bonds faced a sharp selloff in July recovered, almost all those loses in August and then gave back all of those gains in September. Spreads between high yield bonds and treasury bonds had reached extremely low levels reflecting investors “search for yield”. Those investors likely included many with little experience in the asset class and little appetite for large fluctuations the market in high yield bonds and sold as prices fell. The high yield bond market has far less liquidity than other markets and thus is subject to large swings. This situation was likely aggravated by the changes in management at the world’s largest bond fund Pimco Total Return.
A stronger US economy would mean less rather than more default risk for high yield bonds. That would make the rationale for a sharp decline in high yield bonds relative to Treasury bonds a weak one. But that doesn’t mean momentum won’t continue this trend.
Internationally, emerging markets continued to exhibit high volatility. With the prospects of higher US interest rates in the US, emerging markets would be vulnerable both in terms of bond prices and currency fluctuations. With interest rates at extremely low levels and European Central Bank policies aimed at a lower dollar they are also vulnerable. Much like the US Eurozone bonds have had strong gains of late due to the sharp move down in interest rates. But they would carry a high level of currency risk and little room for capital appreciation looking forward.
As of Sept. 30,2014
 Total Return (Price+Dividend)
3q 2014
1 year
3 Year
US total bond market
Short Term High Yield
US Long Term Treasury Bonds
International Bonds
Emerging Market Bonds(local currency)EMLC