3 Fixed Income ETFs To Consider

Includes: GHYG, MSD, REM
by: Justin Kuepper

I am creating a new portfolio for fixed income investments, designed to generate a relatively safe and consistent monthly yield. While income investing may be more straightforward in terms of analysis, discounted cash flow analysis and dividend models, stocks and bonds paying high yields tend to be rather complex securities.

For example, many REITs appear significantly undervalued right now, but it's difficult to see the true remaining risk in their portfolios; energy companies pay great dividends, but they're organized as trusts, which have tax implications; and, high-yield corporate bonds tend to be a little volatile, illiquid and risky for individual investment.

So, I've decided to take an easier approach for now and invest in a few solid ETFs and closed-end funds that offer great income streams without the hassle. In particular, these are funds that produce higher yields than traditional bonds, but don't involve too much risk, in my opinion.

Global High Yield Corporate Bonds

The Global High Yield Corporate Bond Fund (BATS:GHYG) tracks the Markit iBoxx Global Developed Markets High Yield Index and represents an excellent corporate bond play. Although it was just started in April of 2012, the ETF has already attracted more than $25 million in capital, offering a 30-day SEC yield of 6.26% with an expense ratio of just 0.40% and monthly dividends.

The fund holds primarily B-rated bonds (B, BB, Ba2, B2, etc.) in companies around the world, including names like Chrysler, Frontier Communications (NYSE:FTR), HCA (NYSE:HCA), Calpine Corporation (NYSE:CPN), CIT Group (NYSE:CIT) and many others. The highest concentration is just 1.75% of net assets and yields range from 4% to higher than 6%, creating a nice and diversified corporate portfolio.

Emerging Markets Debt

Morgan Stanley Emerging Markets Debt (NYSE:MSD) is a closed-end fund with $278 million under management that I already own in a different portfolio, and it has been a great government bond performer with a 4.75% yield paid quarterly. With a 0.61x beta co-efficient, the stock is far from volatile and has traded around $10.00 per share since 2010 with some dips and gains.

There's some debate whether emerging markets will slow down and ultimately drag many of these bonds down with them. Personally, I'm taking a long-term time horizon and don't see any of the turbulence that happened in 1998 repeating itself anytime soon. The demographics in these countries remain positive and I prefer the debt to the equities.

U.S. Real Estate ETF

The FTSE NAREIT Mortgage Plus Capped Index Fund (NYSEARCA:REM) tracks the FTSE NAREIT All Mortgage Capped Index and represents the riskiest portion of the portfolio. The ETF pays an impressive 30-day SEC yield of 12.2% with an expense ratio of just 0.48%. The majority of the holdings are mortgage REITs, which are a bit uncertain, but its 29 holdings make it very diversified.

The U.S. real estate industry has obviously been beaten up significantly since the bubble burst, but it has shown some signs of bottoming. Meanwhile, many investors are still understandably a little gun shy, which has kept yields high. Of course, there's always risk of additional downside, but until the cracks start showing again, I believe there's a good risk/reward ratio.

Disclosure: I am long MSD.

Additional disclosure: I may also purchase GHYG and REM over the next 72 hours.

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