GraniteShares is an independent, fully funded ETF company headquartered in New York City. GraniteShares’ ETF suite includes one of the lowest-cost physical gold ETFs (BAR), a broad-based commodity ETF (COMB), an ETF that seeks to exclude U.S. large cap companies most likely to suffer from technological disruption over the long term (XOUT), a high alternative income-focused fund that invests in pass-through securities (HIPS) and the lowest-cost* physical platinum ETF (PLTM). GraniteShares has experienced robust growth in 2019, recently surpassing $700 million in total assets under management.
When no company or industry is immune from disruptive challenge, perhaps never has the number of potential losers been so plentiful, nor the disparity between winners and losers been so vast. Rather than succumb to conventional wisdom, perhaps the only thing more important than what you put IN your portfolio is what you XOUT.
2019 has introduced myriad new varieties of yield to investors, including familiar fan-favorites such as flat and declining yields. For investors seeking a more exotic flare, markets have debuted negative and even inverted yields. However, only true aficionados will be able to savor the ultimate pairing of yield flavors, such as negative speculative yields, a true Italian masterpiece. Ciao Bella!
In the shifting sands of today’s market, finding sustainable income may be one the most challenging, yet pervasive concerns for investors. More troubling yet, market watchers may think they are positioned in income or dividend-oriented strategies, only to realize these approaches may deliver only marginally more income than the broad market.
The low yields of supposedly high-income strategies may have become a staple in this market regime. Further compounding the problem is that the Fed is widely expected to cut rates, with markets according to Bloomberg pricing a 99.9% chance of at least one cut in 2019, and 93% probability of two or more. What is a saver to do when searching for higher yield?
Finding Yield in the Desert
dearth of income has refocused the paradigm on retirement, forcing advisors and
clients to reevaluate lifestyle goals within the context of the possible,
hemmed in by low yields. What if there
were an index that achieved 4 times the yield of the S&P 500 with less
volatility? This result is precisely
what the reengineered TFMS HIPS Index achieved, delivering an 8.91% yield as of
June 30th, 2019. For perspective, the S&P 500 yielded 1.91%, and
the popular S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats Index realized 2.44% over the same
timeframe. While indexes are not
directly investable, their performances can be indicative of the varying options
available to investors in meeting their financial goals.
Hence, volatility control is a guiding impulse in not only security selection, but in asset allocation as well.
In a market where every basis point counts, the 53 bp premium offered by the Dividend Aristocrats Index over the S&P 500 is certainly better than nothing, but this level of yield may still not be sufficient for all investors. To this end, the TFMS HIPS Index delivered over eleven and a half times as much of a yield increase over the S&P 500 as the Dividends Aristocrats Index managed. A 700 basis point yield premium over the broad market offers advisors, and investors, a powerful tool for augmenting portfolio income. While past performance is certainly no guarantee, higher yields may offer more options in the context of long-term wealth-management, a potential solution in the yield desert.
Hitting Your Mark
the recalibrated HIPS Index accomplished this feat? The strategy scours the
combined U.S. alternative income ecosystem, comprising Master Limited
Partnerships (MLPs), Closed-End Funds, Business Development Companies (BDCs)
and Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), some 940 instruments in total. Importantly, these categories feature
pass-through income structures, which distribute substantially all their
earnings to investors before taxes, thus avoiding the double taxation
universe, the HIPS Index distills up to 60 securities that are both the highest
yielding and the least volatile in their category over the last
year. This second criterion seeks to
generate very high levels of income in as risk-efficient manner as possible. Significantly, risk-efficient
performance does not imply risk-free investment—risk is an inherent
feature of the investing process, the aim being to budget risk so as to
maximize potential investor outcomes.
above details how the HIPS Index over the long-term experienced substantially
less volatility than both the S&P 500 and the income-focused Dividends
Aristocrats Index. Over the past 5 years
ending H1 2015, the HIPS Index assumed 225 basis points less risk than the
management informs not only the initial volatility screen, but it involves
further controls at each step throughout portfolio construction. For instance, exposure to each of the four
fund categories is determined using Minimum Variance Optimization, a classic
application of Markowitz’s Modern Portfolio Theory. After determining sector weights, all assets
within a given sector are equal weighted.
From the outset not only are the least volatile securities picked, but sectors
are subsequently weighted to take advantage of their cross-correlations. Hence, volatility control is a guiding
impulse in not only security selection, but in asset allocation as well.
Perhaps just as important as the nominal yield of an income strategy, however, is the source of the yield—too often the question is “how much” instead of “from where.”
Finally, the sector weights are subject to constraints to not only maintain a balance of exposures, but to further curtail the potential for volatility. For instance, MLPs are limited to a maximum 25% allocation to ensure the portfolio does not become overly dependent on energy risk for return contribution. Moreover, each fund category has a 15% floor, so the practical maximum for the other non-MLP sectors is 55%. This system seeks a happy medium of preventing the phenomenon of token exposures (assets with de minimus weightings) while also averting a single sector from hijacking the index; balance is key. Employing these methodologies is not to suggest that risk is made sterile, but merely that a diversified approach may limit over-reliance on any one type of risk.
It’s 10PM—Do You Know Where Your Yields Are?
purest form, income generation tends to be a strategy in it for the long haul,
where daily mark to market fluctuations may be less important than sustainable,
and sizeable, cash distributions.
Nonetheless, lower volatility can clarify the use-case of high income
strategies, whether in augmenting an equity sleeve’s yield, diversifying fixed
income exposure, or even serving as a standalone allocation. For instance, consider the results of
blending the HIPS Index into the equity portion of a standard 60/40 model portfolio. As of June 30th 2019, a 10% HIPS
Index allocation would have boosted the equity sleeve’s yield by 62%, while
also reducing volatility by 125 bps over the past year.1
just as important as the nominal yield of an income strategy, however, is the
source of the yield—too often the question is “how much” instead of “from
where.” In searching for yield, many
investors will double down on the same risks, be it duration, credit, interest
rate or even sector risk, instead of diversifying their income footprint.
instance, the well-known iBoxx US Liquid High Yield Index held a whopping 88%
allocation to the industrial sector as 6/30/19.
Not only do the four sectors of HIPS Index seek out a different series
of exposures, but these pass-through securities have historically maintained
low correlations with standard fixed income risks. The fact of the matter is many investors may
be underexposed to alternative income solutions, simply because they fall
outside the framework of common market indices.
What Does Income Mean to You?
In practical terms, the opportunity for higher income through retirement years affords greater financial freedom, alleviating the need for aggressive saving in the present or sacrificing lifestyle support in the future. Significantly, the recrafted HIPS Index may facilitate these goals with a two-fold impact, a renewed focus on dampening volatility and on diversifying portfolio exposure. Seeking higher yields can involve trade-offs and additional risks, and the HIPS Index seeks a systematized approach for calibrated exposure to alternative income.
1 The referenced model 60/40 portfolio features a 60% allocation to the S&P 500 Index, and a 40% allocation to the Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Index, a broad-based benchmark that measures the investment grade, US dollar-denominated, fixed-rate taxable bond market. The index includes Treasuries, government-related and corporate securities. Volatility is represented by annualized standard deviation.
invest directly in an index. Past performance is not a guarantee of future
returns. Diversification does not guarantee profit or loss prevention.
TFMS HIPS Index measures the returns of high-income U.S. listed securities that
typically have “pass-through” structures that require them to distribute
substantially all of their earnings through cash dividends. The S&P 500
Dividend Aristocrats index is designed to measure the performance of S&P
500 index constituents that have followed a policy of consistently
increasing dividends every year for at least 25 consecutive years.iBoxx US Liquid High Yield
Index measures US dominated, sub-investment grade, corporate bond market. The
Index includes bonds with a minimum 1 years to maturity, with bond types including
fixed-coupon, step-up, bonds with sinking funds, medium term notes and callable
and puttable bonds.
Point is one hundredth of one percent (0.01%).
If you thought the Fed was supposed to be the adult in the room, think again. While the task of party chaperone is never easy, it gets infinitely harder when dealing with toddler-like equity markets, who demand extra coddling while threatening bad behavior.
While generating sustainable yield for income investing has never been an easy task, the latest shockwaves to reverberate through interest rate markets have only compounded this challenge. The core of this problem for investors, whether retirees, long-term savers, or anyone looking to diversify their returns, is they are probably looking for yield in all the wrong places.