Finding Income Potential in a Low Yield Environment
Sources: Sources for data in tables: Equity Market and Fixed Income returns are from JP Morgan as of 11/29/19. Rates and Economic Calendar Data from Bloomberg as of 11/29/19. International developed markets measured by the MSCI EAFE Index, emerging markets measured by the MSCI EM Index. Sector performance is measured using GICS methodology.
Global equity markets finished higher for the week, lead by U.S. equities, which hit another all-time high. In the U.S., the S&P 500 Index propelled to a level of 3,141, representing a gain of 1.04%, while the Russell Midcap Index gained 1.11% for the week. The Russell 2000 Index, a measure of the Nation’s smallest publicly traded firms, returned 2.28% over the week. On the international equities front, developed markets increased by 0.52%, while emerging markets lost 0.80%. Finally, the 10-year U.S. Treasury yield finished the week at 1.78%.
One question that we continually field is where to find yield in the current market environment, a question which is more than justified given the historically low 10-year U.S. Treasury yield of 1.78% and the negative yield of -0.36% on the 10-year German Bund. In addition to the appeal of the tax-equivalent yield offered by municipal bonds and municipal bond strategies, another potential solution to this problem is through the investment in assets such as preferred securities. Preferred securities, also commonly referred to as preferred stocks, represent a hybrid security type combining different features of both equities and debt.
Though they have “stock” in their name, preferred stocks generally fall under the taxable fixed income asset class. While most issuers of Preferreds are banks, there are also other issuer types, including insurance companies, utilities, REITs, industrials, and diversified financial services. As a result, investors may consider portfolios of preferred securities incorporating different types of issuers, taking into consideration such factors as credit ratings, maturities, call dates, dividend rights, and convertibility features.
While preferred securities might be an appropriate addition for some investors, it does carry added risk, and, for this reason, we would recommend that investors conduct their own due diligence before considering an investment. With that said, we continue to encourage investors to stay disciplined and work with experienced financial professionals to help manage their portfolios through various market cycles within an appropriately diversified framework that is consistent with their objectives, time-frame, and tolerance for risk.
Investing in foreign securities presents certain risks not associated with domestic investments, such as currency fluctuation, political and economic instability, and different accounting standards. This may result in greater share price volatility. These risks are heightened in emerging markets.
There are special risks associated with an investment in real estate, including credit risk, interest rate fluctuations and the impact of varied economic conditions. Distributions from REIT investments are taxed at the owner’s tax bracket.
The prices of small company and mid cap stocks are generally more volatile than large company stocks. They often involve higher risks because smaller companies may lack the management expertise, financial resources, product diversification and competitive strengths to endure adverse economic conditions.
Investing in commodities is not suitable for all investors. Exposure to the commodities markets may subject an investment to greater share price volatility than an investment in traditional equity or debt securities. Investments in commodities may be affected by changes in overall market movements, commodity index volatility, changes in interest rates or factors affecting a particular industry or commodity.
Products that invest in commodities may employ more complex strategies which may expose investors to additional risks.
Investing in fixed income securities involves certain risks such as market risk if sold prior to maturity and credit risk especially if investing in high yield bonds, which have lower ratings and are subject to greater volatility. All fixed income investments may be worth less than original cost upon redemption or maturity. Bond Prices fluctuate inversely to changes in interest rates. Therefore, a general rise in interest rates can result in the decline of the value of your investment.
MSCI- EAFE: The Morgan Stanley Capital International Europe, Australasia and Far East Index, a free float-adjusted market capitalization index that is designed to measure developed-market equity performance, excluding the United States and Canada.
MSCI-Emerging Markets: The Morgan Stanley Capital International Emerging Market Index, is a free float-adjusted market capitalization index that is designed to measure the performance of global emerging markets of about 25 emerging economies.
Russell 3000: The Russell 3000 measures the performance of the 3000 largest US companies based on total market capitalization and represents about 98% of the investible US Equity market.
ML BOFA US Corp Mstr [Merill Lynch US Corporate Master]: The Merrill Lynch Corporate Master Market Index is a statistical composite tracking the performance of the entire US corporate bond market over time.
ML Muni Master [Merill Lynch US Corporate Master]: The Merrill Lynch Municipal Bond Master Index is a broad measure of the municipal fixed income market.
Investors cannot directly purchase any index.
LIBOR, London Interbank Offered Rate, is the rate of interest at which banks offer to lend money to one another in the wholesale money markets in London.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average is an unweighted index of 30 “blue-chip” industrial U.S. stocks.
The S&P Midcap 400 Index is a capitalization-weighted index measuring the performance of the mid-range sector of the U.S. stock market, and represents approximately 7% of the total market value of U.S. equities. Companies in the Index fall between S&P 500 Index and the S&P SmallCap 600 Index in size: between $1-4 billion.
DJ Equity REIT Index represents all publicly traded real estate investment trusts in the Dow Jones U.S. stock universe classified as Equity REITs according to the S&P Dow Jones Indices REIT Industry Classification Hierarchy. These companies are REITs that primarily own and operate income-producing real estate.