High grade paper ahead of junk in 2014

|By:, SA News Editor

Maybe surprising to many, long-dated investment-grade corporate bonds are outperforming junk bonds this year, with total returns already of 7.48% vs. junk at 3.3%. It's a turnaround from 2013, when high-yield returned 7.42% vs. a loss of 1.57% for IG paper.

It's good news for institutional investors like pension funds and insurers, who have been big buyers of the bonds in recent months.

Investment-grade corporate debt ETFs: LQD, VCSH, VCIT, VCLT, CORP, CSJ, CIU, CFT, SCPB, LWC, CLY, ITR, QLTA, IGHG, PFIG, SLQD, IGS, CBND, IGU, QLTB

In other junk bond news, DoubleLine's Bonnie Baha says the firm's core fund has cut its high-yield exposure to 3% from 6%. High prices are the reason, says Baha, noting the average price of 104.5 cents on the dollar. Many issuers can force redemptions at 103 cents, and if they don't get called, in a low-rate environment there's extension risk.

Baha takes note of the proliferation of short-duration high-yield funds. "It's a fallacy to think that just because it’s short-term that bad things can’t happen."

High-yield ETFs: HYG, JNK, HYLD, HYS, SJNK, PHB, BSJF, SJB, BSJE, BSJG, HYHG, BSJI, ANGL, HYLS, UJB, BSJH, XOVR, THHY, YPRO, SHYG, QLTC, BSJK, HYZD, HYND, BSJJ