With interest rates expected to continue to rise through the end of the year, many investors are worried about the potential impact on their investments.
FlexShares’ research into the past four Fed rate hike cycles (2015, 2004, 1999, and 1994) suggests that high-yield bonds may be well-positioned for stronger returns during rising-rate environments. The FlexShares High Yield Value-Scored U.S. Bond Index Fund (HYGV ) offers exposure to high-yield bonds screened for value and quality for just 37 basis points.
“Because rising interest rates hurt the prices of existing bonds, investors are likely to focus on the potential interest rate risk in their fixed-income allocations. During Fed tightening cycles, the market has historically anticipated rate increases and prices them into the bond market before they happen,” FlexShares’ wrote in an insight
However, according to FlexShares, there is always uncertainty about the timing, size, and a number of rate hikes, which may create additional volatility if actual rate hikes don’t match the market’s expectations.
Investors can address this uncertainty by managing the duration in a fixed-income portfolio. According to FlexShares’ research, duration is responsible for the majority of expected returns in fixed-income assets, and bonds with shorter durations are often less sensitive to rising interest rates.
Therefore, in the current environment, positioning fixed-income holdings on the shorter end of the duration curve can help reduce risk.
Shorter duration bonds, however, generally come with lower yields, which may not align with investors’ income goals. Investors can boost their portfolio’s yield by taking on additional credit risk.
High-yield bonds outperformed equities during the Fed rate hiking cycles of 2015 and 2004, delivering one-year returns of 12.1% and 10.3% versus equities’ 7.7% and 8.7% returns, respectively, according to FlexShares.
HYGV is an ideal product for investors looking to add income while avoiding some of the riskiest junk debt, according to the ETF Database.
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