Preferred-stock ETFs took hits in 2013, vs. hefty gains in the
major stock indexes.
The exchange traded funds built on preferred stocks on average
have fallen about 10%. Market watchers attribute the poor price
performance in 2013 to expectations surrounding the Federal
Reserve's tapering of its bond-buying program.
Even if investors take Fed chief Ben Bernanke at his word,
they have a problem forecasting rates. Over the past few years,
the Fed has suggested that it would keep interest rates low at
least through mid-2013, then late 2014, then mid-2015 and now
Meanwhile, the 10-year Treasury note's yield hit 3% Friday, up
from 1.76% at the end of 2012.
A look at how preferred-stock ETFs have performed in recent
years might be useful. Only three ETFs have been around long
enough to offer six to eight years of data.
TheiShares U.S. Preferred Stock (
) is the most liquid of the preferred ETFs. The average daily
dollar volume is about $62 million, which keeps the bid-ask
spread tight. That means even a big investor can get in or out of
the pool without creating much of a wave.
The current dividend yield is 6.6%, but the monthly payouts
this year varied each month. They added up to $2.43. If an
investor had bought shares at 2012's closing price, the yield
would've been 6.1%. The big sector weightings are: diversified,
37%; banks, 28%; real estate, 12%; and insurance, 10%.
U.S. Preferred fell 72% off its high during the 2008 bear
market. After recovering, its essentially sideways action
involved corrections of 15%, 18% and now 11%. The ETF recently
made a 52-week low.
PowerShares Preferred Portfolio (
) andPowerShares Financial Preferred Portfolio (
) are heavy on financials and are on the thin side. The current
annual yields are 6.8% and 6.6%.
The corrections have been similar to U.S. Preferred's. Both
are 10% to 11% off highs.