Emerging market bond sales have soared past analyst estimates for the first half of 2014, as investors flock to higher yields. $268B of bonds sold so far this year, compared to the $240B sold in the same period of 2013.
Due to a dovish Fed, U.S. yields have fallen this year to 2.5% from end-2013 levels of 3%. As a result, increased demand for higher yield has investors trading emerging market bonds despite geo-political risks.
"The default rate is non-existent," he says, agreeing that fundamentals in high-yield look good. "Instead of a default cycle, we've had a refinance cycle." The issue, however, is valuation. At the end of 2013, the 30-year Treasury yielded about 4%, while BB corporates "unbelievably" yielded just 4.5% - a "remarkably low incremental yield."
His feelings about overvaluation extend to the investment grade corporate market (LQD) as well.
Most curious to Gundlach is how universally the long bond is hated at 4%, while junk yielding 4.5% gets so much love.
Besides Treasurys, Gundlach sees value in emerging market bonds. The risk is in the currency, but this can be eliminated by buying dollar-denominated paper.
The EGShares TCW EM Short Term Investment Grade Bond ETF (SEMF), Intermediate Term Investment Grade Bond ETF (IEMF), and Long Term Investment Grade Bond ETF (LEMF) will begin trading on January 8th; offering exposure to both sovereign and corporate bonds.
Each new fund will charge 0.65%, which is above the average expense ratio for this sector, but few funds currently offer specific duration exposure to emerging market bonds.
"Sovereign emerging-market yields today are consistent with their averages between 2003 and 2007, but U.S. Treasury rates are only about half as high," writes Shuli Ren, in a bullish piece on emerging-market debt.
The premise is simple: 17 consecutive weeks of EM bond fund outflows has "flooded out irrational exuberance that had piled up over the winter and spring" and brought the market back down to earth, even as institutional demand has remained strong, suggesting retail investors have overreacted to taper talk.
With the Fed still striking a highly accommodative tone, emerging-market debt could rally as investors discover the relatively attractive valuations.
Anything paying income is again being particularly hard hit by the rise in Treasury yields (the 10-year now at a 2-year high of 2.8%).
Selections in mREITs (REM -2.1%), (MORT -1.9%) include RAIT Financial Trust (RAS -4.1%) - whose IRT had an ill-timed IPO yesterday and Ellington Residential (EARN -4.8%) - the market not caring about reasonable Q2 performance, a hefty discount to book, and the launch of a repurchase program. Other mREITs: CYS Investments (CYS -3.6%), Apollo (AMTG -3%), Newcastle (NCT -5%), Invesco (IVR -2.7%), Arlington Asset (AI -1.2%). A leveraged ETF play: MORL.
Hanging in there relatively well are the BDCs: Fifth Street (FSC -1.3%), Triangle (TCAP -1%), MCG (MCGC -1.2%), Hercules (HTGC -1.2%), Ares (ARCC -0.3%).
Vanguard Emerging Markets Government Bond ETF seeks to track the performance of a benchmark index that measures the investment return of U.S. dollar-denominated bonds issued by governments and government related issuers in emerging market countries.
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