Obbligazioni a alto rendimento: lettura in inglese - gz
By: GZ on Domenica 01 Giugno 2003 16:37
Mesi fa avevo indicato un fondo comune "High Yield", ^HYP#^, cioè un fondo che investe solo in obbligazioni di aziende a "alto rischio" quindi con rendimenti elevati e rischio proporzionato
Non occorre sottolineare, o forse sì, che come tutti i fondi suggeriti qui si tratta di un fondo quotato a NY quindi acquistabile allo stesso modo in cui si compra una qualsiasi azione e NON di un fondo che compri solo tramite banca o sim.
Comprare fondi ha senso solo in due casi: per i paesi esotici come l'indonesia o malesia dove è quasi impossibile comprare i titoli locali e saperne a sufficienza e per le obbligazioni "junk" di società in difficoltà dove ci sono rischi di bancarotta su singole emissioni, ma comprandone 30 o 40 tramite un fondo frazioni il rischio e però approfitti del trend di rialzo del settore.
^High Yield Plus Fund#^ continua a salire come tutto il settore delle obbligazioni a alto rendimento/rischio. E si moltiplicano le analisi su questo trend e sul fatto che possa continuare. L'appetito vien mangiando e sull'obbligazionario a media-lunga scadenza ci sono ora i maggiori guadagni degli ultimi 7 o 8 anni per cui sempre più gente accorre.
Qui una lettura per il weekend sul tema.
------------------------------ Wall Street Journal ------------------
By GREGORY ZUCKERMAN
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Should you be in junk? It's a question worth asking.
While stocks are showing a lot of vigor these days, one of the hottest investments lately is one of the riskiest around: junk bonds, meaning bonds sold by companies with low credit ratings.
Investors have gained total returns of about 14% so far this year investing in these bonds, including both a price gain and interest payments, despite a recent pullback, according to a Merrill Lynch junk-bond index. And they're up a heady 23% since early October.
With interest rates on safer bonds so meager, it's no wonder this area is catching the fancy of investors. Indeed, a rash of money has been flowing into the junk-bond market from individual investors as well as large institutions.
"The market is hot. It's the place to be right now," says Kingman Penniman, president of KDP Investment Advisors, a research firm in Montpelier, Vt.
The Risk Factor
But before you jump on the bandwagon, keep in mind that these bonds are riskier than most because they're sold by companies that are young and unproven, or by those that have hit troubles and have seen agencies slash their credit ratings. A few examples: conglomerate Tyco International and energy companies Calpine Corp. and Williams Cos.
Junk bonds often tend to behave more like small-capitalization stocks than like bonds, because so much depends on the economic fortunes of the company selling the bonds. Sounds a bit dangerous, right? So why would anyone lend money to such unpredictable companies? Well, investors can be well compensated for taking these risks. The rewards often are the hefty yields these bonds typically carry, earning them the name "high-yield" bonds.
Consider this example: A super-safe 10-year note sold by the U.S. Treasury sports a yield of less than 3.4%, not much more than a bank savings account. A 10-year bond sold by General Electric, a top-rated corporation, carries a yield of about 4%. But investors who are willing to buy 10-year bonds of mobile-phone operator Nextel Communications or telecom company Qwest Communications will pocket a yield of about 9%.
Big returns on high-yield bonds make them "an attractive asset class," says Mr. Penniman. "While returns for stocks may be mediocre, high-yield [bonds] should compare favorably with a lot less volatility." Bulls argue the recent gains could continue because companies are selling assets, refinancing existing debt at lower rates and improving their balance sheets -- all encouraging signs for companies issuing high-yield bonds.
"As a result, the default rate," the rate at which low-rated companies default on their bond payments, "is falling, and we think it will continue to come down," says Stephen Peacher, who heads the junk-bond team at Putnam Investments. "The high-yield market today is filled generally with seasoned companies and industries that have been able to survive" the economy's difficulties.
Household names in the junk-bond market include forest-products maker Georgia-Pacific, casino operator Park Place Entertainment and hotelier Host Marriott.
Bracing for Losses
While many recommend that investors put at least some of their portfolio in high-yield securities, it's not a place for those who cannot stomach a fair amount of risk.
For example, Marilyn Cohen, president of Envision Capital Management Inc. in Los Angeles, who works with small investors, points out that many high-yield mutual funds have incurred annual losses of 10% in recent years. In 2000, the average high-yield fund lost almost 8%. Last year, the funds lost 2% on average. Those performances top stocks but are less than those of funds that invest in safer bonds during those periods.
Another reason for caution: Since the junk market has climbed so far in the past eight months, it may be due for a correction. And with a weak economy, and fears growing about deflation, low-rated companies in the high-yield market may bear the brunt of the pain.
Indeed, if weaker companies continue to have difficulties raising the prices of their products, they will have a harder time meeting their debt obligations, making it more likely that at least some of them will stop making interest payments to bondholders.
"A severe economic downturn is probably the biggest risk to the market," acknowledges Mr. Peacher.
Deflation, or falling prices, would be "horrible" for junk bonds, adds Mr. Penniman.
So how should investors approach this market? The obvious answer: very carefully. Beyond that, the key to successful junk-bond investing is diversification, an investment principle that is especially important here.
Unless you're a skilled credit analyst with time to scrutinize corporate balance sheets and anticipate industry trends, it will be difficult to analyze the risks of any one company's bonds. Even if just 5% or so of junk-bond companies default on interest payments to investors, you don't want to be holding bonds in one of the few companies that does run into real problems.
Safety in Numbers
That's where mutual funds come in. Because a mutual fund holds a portfolio of these risky bonds, sometimes hundreds of them, the likelihood of getting severely hurt by troubles at one company is greatly reduced.
"Owning one individual junk bond is quite risky -- if that issuer runs into trouble it can wipe out a good portion of your investments in a hurry," says Scott Berry, an analyst at Morningstar Inc.
At the same time, individuals investing in the high-yield market on their own "are unlikely to receive the best prices for bonds" since it is a market that usually sees multimillion-dollar transactions, adds Mr. Peacher.
In any case, most analysts don't think individuals should put more than 15% of their money in junk-bond mutual funds, as a diversification move. The new tax law makes it look smarter to keep junk and other interest-bearing investments in a tax-deferred account.
Mr. Berry recommends funds that have performed well in both good and bad markets in the past decade, and that don't charge too much in investor expenses.
Among those he is high on: the T. Rowe Price High Yield fund, up about 10% this year; the Pimco High Yield fund, up 13%; and American Funds' High Income Trust, up about 15%. All three have average annual returns of about 7% or more for the past decade.