Hedged High Yield Bonds vs. Bank Loans in a Rising Rate Environment

By Fran Rodilosso, Portfolio Manager with Market Vectors ETFs

Both hedged high yield bond and bank loan strategies can help limit risks associated with a rising interest rate environment, according to Fran Rodilosso, fixed income portfolio manager with Market Vectors ETFs. However, hedged high yield bond strategies outperformed bank loan strategies during 2013’srising interest rate environment1, spurred on by the summer’s “taper”-focused concerns and the ultimate tapering that took place in December. Rising over 100 basis points each since the beginning of the year, the 5-year and 10-year Treasury yields closed 2013 at 1.75% and 3.04%, respectively.

“Hedged high yield bonds and leveraged loans both help limit interest rate duration2,” said Rodilosso. “Leveraged loan strategies saw the vast majority of inflows in 2013. But a handful of factors may make the hedged high yield approach worthy of closer consideration if 2014 is going to be a year of rising interest rates.” Factors benefitting hedged high yield bonds over bank loans last year included:

1) Narrowing credit spreads: as seen after September when no action was taken by the Federal Reserve to taper quantitative easing

2) Long high yield bond/short U.S. Treasury positioning: has historically been more responsive to changes in credit spreads than the floating rate mechanism employed by bank loans

3) High yield bonds’ generally longer duration and somewhat stronger call protection: bank loans can re-price and lose appreciation potential when credit markets rally

Rodilosso also pointed out that while bank loans are senior secured and higher in the capital structure than high yield bonds, bank loans tend to be less liquid in secondary trading. Rodilosso went on to note that when credit spreads widen significantly and interest rates fall, hedged high yield bond strategies present a risk of loss and tend to underperform bank loans.

“For investors who value liquidity and who believe rising interest rates are on the way, the hedged high yield bond approach may be worth a closer look.”


Notes: Among Market Vectors fixed income ETF offerings is Treasury-Hedged High Yield Bond ETF (NYSE Arca: THHYTM). THHY seeks to track, before fees and expenses, the performance of the Market Vectors US Treasury-Hedged High Yield Bond Index (MVTHHY), an index designed to provide exposure to below investment grade corporate bonds, denominated in U.S. dollars, that are hedged against rising interest rates through the use of Treasury notes. THHY, the first-of-its-kind passively managed US-ETF, is another example of Market Vectors’ commitment to providing relevant and innovative ETFs to investors.

1Hedged high yield bonds are represented by the Market Vectors US Treasury-Hedged High Yield Bond Index, which outperformed bank loan strategies, as represented by the S&P/LSTA U.S. Leveraged Loan 100 Index, since the former’s inception date of February 5, 2013.

2Duration measures a bond’s sensitivity to interest rate changes that reflects the change in a bond’s price given a change in yield.

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