Better Than a Mattress? These Bond Funds, I’m Not So Sure

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The market looks like it’s about to fall apart. Which means we contrarians will step in, and smartly bank more dividend for our dollar.

Some of us park our dry powder in cash. Others stash in conservative bond funds to juice a bit more yield out of our savings. Let’s talk about these bonds because this is an ideal time to say goodbye to them (for a while!)

As dividend investors, we are naturally allergic to cash. After all, why leave money in dollars earning nothing when we can move it to a stock or fund yielding something?

As I write our Contrarian Income Report portfolio yields 6.3%.… Read more

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Fact: there are still lots of big, cheap and safe dividends out there—but they’re going fast as this market floats higher.

So today we’re going to get right to it and look at four options for your portfolio now, ranked from worst to first.

“Worst to First” Income Play No. 4: 10-Year Treasuries

The 10-year Treasury offers a “safety feature” mainstream investors love: no matter what happens, you’ll get your principal back after 10 years.

That’s actually a trap, though, because inflation gnaws at your nest egg the whole time, and your yield—1.6% today—won’t help you: it’s 40% below the rate of inflation, which jumped 2.6% year over year in March!… Read more

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Thank you to our 1,578 Contrarian Income Report subscribers who attended our Q1 webcast last week! We received 114 questions during our one-hour call, plus several dozen more beforehand. Amazing.

Thank you for the thoughtful questions. I’ve read each and every one. Let’s chat about popular closed-end fund (CEF) topics today. (Next week, we’ll circle back with your equity-focused dividend questions.)

Q: Brett, what are your thoughts about Calamos Convertible Funds (such as CCD, CHI and CHY), which are currently yielding about 8%? Thank you.

Convertible bonds are a big beneficiary of Jay Powell’s money printing activity. Convertibles pay regular interest.… Read more

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My friends and I couldn’t have been more excited about our college commencement speaker. Fresh off an electrifying cameo in the 2003 comedy movie Old School, James Carville’s next act was Cornell University.

At 21 years old, we had no idea what Carville actually did for a living. (Answer: Political consultant.) And though he was an engaging and entertaining speaker, I don’t remember a single word the “Ragin’ Cajun” said. Too bad, because he has had some major wisdom to impart.

Ten years earlier, Carville made an observation that is more prescient now than ever. After watching bond investors rebuff President Clinton’s economic stimulus proposals because they demanded a higher interest rate for US Treasuries, Carville coined this gem:

“I used to think that if there was reincarnation, I wanted to come back as a president or the pope or as a .400 baseball hitter.

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High-yield bonds have never paid less. Which is too bad, because let’s be honest—dividends are the reason we income investors wade in “junk bond” waters in the first place.

Fortunately, by being selective rather than lamestream, we can double our existing high-yield bond dividends. Nothing fancy, either. We sell the unselective ETFs and buy the ones with proven bond investors at the helm.

Before starting, let me make one huge point. It is true that almost all actively managed equity mutual funds aren’t worth the management fees investors pay. But some actively-managed bond funds most definitely are worth it.

The ETFs we would be selling are the two most popular high-yield bond ETFs.… Read more

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When this closed-end fund (CEF) lowered its monthly dividend for the first time in 17 years, many income investors (understandably) panicked and sold.

Too bad for them. They missed out on 27% returns over the next 20 months.

Can a dividend cut actually be a good thing? Like life itself, it’s complicated—but my short answer is “yes.” Here’s when (and why).

CEFs are the exception to the “dividend cuts are bad” rule. In CEF-Land, payouts are taken from a fund’s portfolio, which is represented by a fund’s net asset value (NAV). Sure, the funds that we buy generally have income streams that are supposed to “power” NAV higher.… Read more

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There’s a joke going around that the S&P 500 isn’t the S&P 500 anymore. It’s now the “S&P 5.”

(Well, last Thursday, the five got punched in the face. With no meaningful dividends to cushion the fall, it was all “red on the screen.”)

I’m talking about the five mostly dividend-less stocks that have been driving the rebound since March—tech darlings and low/no yield wonders Apple (AAPL), Microsoft (MSFT), Amazon.com (AMZN), Alphabet (GOOGL) and Facebook (FB).

Rebound Leaves Dividend Investors Behind

If you’re not holding these big names, or if you only have a small position, well, the joke’s been on you (with the exception of last Thursday, of course!).… Read more

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If you’re shopping for high-yield closed-end funds (CEFs), two numbers are critical:

  • The dividend: There are about 500 CEFs out there, and they boast huge payouts of 7% on average. Many also pay monthly.
  • The discount: Due to a quirk in the CEF structure, these funds often trade at discounts to the per-share value of their portfolios. Called the discount to net asset value (NAV), this indicator is the clearest indicator of imminent price gains I’ve ever seen in an investment.

A Proven Gain Predictor

Thanks to the discount to NAV—which is available on any fund screener—you literally have a CEF’s market price on a string!Read more

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I’m about to reveal my very best strategy for pocketing 20%+ upside (and 7%+ dividends) from closed-end funds (CEFs) in the year ahead.

And in the long run, you could be in for truly monstrous gains, like the 94% return, and 8.8% dividend, I locked in using this simple plan just a few days ago.

I’m sharing this powerful tool with you now because this is the perfect time to get into CEFs. Unlike the (bubbly) S&P 500, many of these high-yield funds are cheap now—and spring-loaded for big “snap back” upside in 2020.

In fact, 380 of the roughly 500 CEFs out there—a full 75%—trade below their “true” worth as I write this.… Read more

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Brilliant bond manager Jeffrey Gundlach—aka the “bond god”—has decreed that it’s time to sell “junk” bonds. And he’s gone as far as to say that one-third of corporate bonds should probably be rated as junk.

Gundlach is one of the few “gurus” that we pay attention to. He called the subprime mortgage crisis ahead of time in 2007, an epic rally in US Treasuries earlier this decade, and President Trump’s election in early 2016 (when few gave the Republican candidate a chance.)

And his two closed-end funds (CEFs) are excellent long-term additions to a retirement portfolio. Over the last six years his two DoubleLine funds have roared to 72% and 54% total returns (with the majority of these gains coming as cash dividends:)

DoubleLine CEF’s Deliver: Distributions Plus Gains

But no guru is perfectly clairvoyant!… Read more

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