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Investors often think that bonds are boring. Indeed, some investors wish that bonds could be more like equities, with larger price appreciation potential.
Indeed, bonds are nothing like equities. While equity holders have a stake in the future of a business, bond holders simply loan money to the company, for which they receive interest over an agreed period, after which the bond nominal is repaid. In unpredictable times, though, bonds’ predictable cash flows can be a strength.
We are increasingly fielding questions from individual investors worried that despite their unexciting nature, bond ETFs have fallen in value. However, in the currently unfolding market turmoil, headlined by the Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24 February and increased expectations of rate hikes to combat inflation, they generally have not lost nearly as much value as equities - even if they have not been entirely invulnerable.
Source: VanEck. Data from 31 May 2021 to 13 June 2022, Gross Return in EUR. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future returns.
In particular, well-heeled investors value bonds for their regular income and relatively low price volatility. Bonds are issued by governments or companies, which are effectively borrowing from investors over a fixed period and, usually, paying fixed1 coupon income in return.
In times of rising interest rates, newly issued bonds usually pay higher coupons than existing bonds and provide more attractive income opportunities. Hence, existing bonds have less value for investors and their market value falls. However, it is important to realise that the issuer still pays the pre-set coupons and repays the bond when it matures, so an investor’s cash flows do not change. Conversely, bond prices tend to converge to their issue prices the closer they are to maturity. Moreover, any cash from maturing bonds can be reinvested in higher yielding bonds, which can benefit the investor.
I always recommend that investors take a prudent approach. They should have diversified portfolios of equities and bonds, with the bonds acting as stabilisers. Think back to the global financial crisis about fifteen years ago: global equities fell more than 50% by some measures yet having part of your portfolio in bonds would have cushioned against losses.
Of course, there are different types of bonds with differing risk profiles. At VanEck, we have a range of bond ETFs to suit individual investors’ appetites for risk and return. They are summarized in the table below.
Alternatively, an investor could buy one of our multi-asset ETFs, which already have a mix of equities, bonds and real estate4. Designed to diversify risk and return, they come in three blends – higher, medium and lower risk.
Overall, though, it’s wise to remember at volatile and difficult times that boring predictability can be surprisingly attractive.
1 Some entities can also issue bonds with coupons linked to inflation or interest rates, but such structures are less common.
2 Source: VanEck. Data as of 13 Jun 2022. Measured as weighted-average Yield-to-Worst of the portfolio. The Coupon and Yield to Worst do not represent the performance of the Fund. These statistics do not take into account fees and expenses associated with investments of the Fund. Past performance is not a guarantee of future returns.
3 The synthetic risk and reward indicator (SRRI) is calculated according to European regulatory requirements and ranks the historical volatility of the fund on a scale from 1 to 7. Funds with a lower SRRI typically exhibit lower volatility and therefore a lower probability of temporary capital losses. Funds with a high SRRI are expected to experience greater fluctuations and a greater risk of capital loss. The fund category is not a reliable indication of future performance and may change in the course of time.
4 In the form of real estate stocks.
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This information originates from VanEck (Europe) GmbH which has been appointed as distributor of VanEck products in Europe by the Management Company VanEck Asset Management B.V., incorporated under Dutch law and registered with the Dutch Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM). VanEck (Europe) GmbH with registered address at Kreuznacher Str. 30, 60486 Frankfurt, Germany, is a financial services provider regulated by the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority in Germany (BaFin). The information is intended only to provide general and preliminary information to investors and shall not be construed as investment, legal or tax advice. VanEck (Europe) GmbH and its associated and affiliated companies (together “VanEck”) assume no liability with regards to any investment, divestment or retention decision taken by the investor on the basis of this information. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s) but not necessarily those of VanEck. Opinions are current as of the publication date and are subject to change with market conditions. Certain statements contained herein may constitute projections, forecasts and other forward looking statements, which do not reflect actual results. Information provided by third party sources are believed to be reliable and have not been independently verified for accuracy or completeness and cannot be guaranteed. All indices mentioned are measures of common market sectors and performance. It is not possible to invest directly in an index.
All performance information is historical and is no guarantee of future results. Investing is subject to risk, including the possible loss of principal. You must read the Prospectus and KIID before investing.
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