WHEN in Argentina the sovereign debt was in July, investors seemed to be discouraged. Money continued to flow into mutual funds and traded funds, investing in emerging market bonds, as is the case for most of the last five years.
In fact, many investors are making room in their portfolios for this asset class. They have accumulated in emerging market bonds from a variety of countries, as new investment investments such as Mexico and Indonesia have overshadowed Argentina.
“We consider emerging markets bonds similar to a high-yield debt – a class of asset between bonds and bonds”, said Francis M. Kinniry, head of the Vanguard investment strategy group. “If investors are looking for a better yield, but they are not ready for stockholders, they can be a good asset. An emerging market bond fund will not have the risk of an emerging stock market – its negative side has nothing like it To that of shareholders. ”
For the last few years, emerging bonds and E.T.F.s have offered a better performance than the debt of the developed world. Morningstar’s emerging markets bonds reported an annual average of 6.3 percent in the five years ended September 30, against an annual average of 4.1 percent for the aggregate index of Barclays Capital U.S. Aggregate Bond.
It is important to recognize that these higher returns pose greater risks. “It’s like someone trying to get a mortgage with a lower credit score,” said Mr. Kinniry. “They may be able to get a loan, but the bank will make them pay a higher rate.”
Emerging markets often have disruption of a species that developed countries rarely experience. Argentina’s failure to pay its bonds this summer. And this could have been a lesser event than the fights of Russia with Ukraine, the Middle East war, and the epidemic of Ebola virus in West Africa. And last year it has caused turmoil of a different kind: the tantrum in the financial markets, as stock prices in the emerging market have added to the news that the Federal Reserve might begin to raise interest rates in the United States.
These risks are a constant in emerging market investment, said Michael J. Conelius, head of the T. Rowe Emerging Markets Bond fund since 1994. “Political risk is never gone,” he said. “Ten years ago we could talk about problems in Africa and wars in the Middle East. But if there is a risk and we believe that things are improving, this is an opportunity for our customers.”
Just as emerging market countries can spit as the US economy bends, they can also increase when shedding. These various trajectories can add diversification to a portfolio, said L. Bryan Carter, head of the Acadian Emerging Markets Debt Fund. “The countries of Latin America, like Mexico and Colombia, are connected to the United States,” he said. “In contrast, Poland and the Czech Republic are much more connected to Germany. And in Asia, you still have something new, with money coming out of China and Japan and going to emerging countries,” such as Indonesia and Malaysia.
The long debate on the benefits of active and passive portfolio management creates in this area, as in every corner of the investment business.
Active executives say that the greater risk and the variety of bonds in the emerging market bring opportunities for them to apply expertise and experience. “One reason why you do not want to use a passive strategy in emerging bonds is that not all countries are created the same,” said Teresa Kong, Matthews Asia Income Strategic fund manager. “My job is to understand the social fabric and the legal system, everyone can do maths, but you also have to look at the stories of the countries.”
An active manager can avoid troubled countries while an index fund or E.T.F. It must take into account the allocations of its underlying index. Todd L. Rosenbluth, director of E.T.F. And looking for common funds for S & P Capital IQ, he said: “The country can play an important role from a political point of view in selecting ties.”
Even so, he said, the average active fund has not beaten the market average lately. Only 13 percent of the actively managed emerging market bonds reached Barclays Emerging Markets USD aggregate index for the three years ended June 30. “It’s improved to five years – 36 percent,” he said.
In addition to replicating the average return on a market, the indicator funds and ETFs offer low costs and transparency because their securities reflect their indices, said Francis G. Rodilosso, Senior Investment Manager and Fixed Income Portfolio Manager for Carriers Of Van Eck Global ETFs “Always know what the exposure of Russia is,” he said.
However, some long-running executives in this area handle not only the highest reference points, but also do so without undue risk, according to some metrics.
Consider the Fidelity New Markets Income fund, run by John H. Carlson. The fund reported an annual average of 9 percent in the 10 years ended October 6, versus 7.7 percent for its parent companies. The zigzags of its yields were roughly equal to those of its peers.
This does not mean that Mr. Carlson, the fund manager since 1995, avoids big bets. As of 31 August, Venezuelan loans represented 11.4 percent of the fund, about twice the average of the Morningstar category. “We are diversifying into 75 countries, so we are balancing the most risky claims like Venezuela against those of investment like Mexico,” he said.
HOW much of a portfolio should be assigned to emerging market bonds? It depends on who you ask for and on risk tolerance.
“If you are testing the last troop movement in Ukraine overnight, the right amount is nothing,” Carlson said. For a less demanding investor with an investment horizon of at least three years, 6 percent to 10 percent of a total portfolio could make sense, he said.
Karin S. Anderson, senior analyst at Morningstar, says that if investors may have emerging bonds at all, securities should supplement, not replace, their own funds such as treasuries and corporate investment bonds. “You should keep them as a supporter-a satellite bucket in your wallet,” he said. And investors should study a fund before jumping, he said.
In the wide range of emerging market bonds, managers can highlight securities with various levels of risk. Among options are sovereign bonds denominated in dollars, sovereigns denominated in local currencies and corporate bonds in emerging markets, typically denominated in dollars. An index fund or E.T.F. They may have only one type of bond, but active managers often triumph all three and may conceal some cash and securities and hedge currency risk.
Another hollow is that many funds have short recordings. “About half of emerging market debt securities sold in the US are less than three years old,” said Mrs. Anderson. An investor might not be able to see how a fund kept it in 2008, when the emerging market bond market lost 17.6%. “These tend to be the most volatile of bond funds,” he added.