High-Yield Bond ETFs Grapple Higher

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High-yield bonds, otherwise known as junk bonds , have traveled an arduous path over the last twelve months. These decidedly sensitive credit securities fell out of favor in the fourth quarter of 2014 as fears over wavering stock gains spilled over into riskier fixed-income assets.

Nevertheless, junk bond ETFs have defied expectations by pressing higher over the last four months and recently broke out to new 52-week highs.

High-Yield Bond ETF Barometer

The iShares iBoxx $ High Yid Corp Bond ( ETF ) (NYSE: HYG ) is the largest barometer of high-yield credit in this space, with over $17.6 billion in total assets. HYG invests in over 1,000 individual securities of below-investment grade companies such as T-Mobile US Inc (NYSE: TMUS ) and Ally Financial Inc (NYSE: ALLY ).

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Since the beginning of the year, HYG has gained 3.43 percent and attracted more than $2.9 billion in new assets.

This trend clearly shows that investors are hungry for yield and willing to bet on the strength of U.S. companies to enhance their income streams. HYG has a current 30-day SEC yield of 5.18 percent, an effective duration of 4.00 years and charges an expense ratio of 0.50 percent.

SPDR Junk Bond ETF

Another well-known fund in this space is the SPDR Barclays Capital High Yield Bnd ETF (NYSE: JNK ), which has also seen nearly $2 billion in inflows so far in 2015. The nearly 800 credit securities in JNK are skewed toward slightly lower rated debt, which presses the yield on this ETF in excess of 5.60 percent.

The largest holding in JNK is a Sprint Corp (NYSE: S ) bond maturing in 2023. That difference in yield and adjusted duration has produced a slightly enhanced total return this year as well. JNK has gained just under 4 percent so far in 2015.

Other Peers In The Sector

Other ETFs that have prospered during this rally are the shorter duration equivalents in the PIMCO 0-5 Year High Yield Corporate Bond ETF (PIMCO ETF Trust) (NYSE: HYS ) and the SPDR Barclays Short Term High Yield Bond ETF (SPDR Series Trust) (NYSE: SJNK ).

Both of these ETFs take a slightly different tact from their sector peers by investing in a basket of high-yield bonds with closer maturity dates. This tends to lessen the price fluctuations of the portfolio along with sensitivity to interest rate moves.

Disclosure: At the time this article was published, clients of FMD Capital Management owned shares of HYS.

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© 2015 Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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