EM Junk Bond ETF Offers Advantages

ETF Trends

Although most large emerging markets sport investment-grade credit ratings, there are opportunities for investors to expand their high-yield horizons at the corporate level in developing economies.

The unheralded Market Vectors Emerging Markets High Yield Bond ETF (HYEM) is a viable ETF option for the investor looking to gain exposure to high-yield emerging markets corporates. HYEM does not command the attention that its U.S.-focused rivals do, but as investors have pulled capital from the likes of the iShares iBoxx $ High Yield Corporate Bond ETF (HYG) this year, HYEM has brought in almost $112.2 million, or nearly a third of its current assets under management total.

Like other emerging markets bond ETFs, HYEM has dealt with what, in theory, should be a trying market environment. There have been rampant concerns about escalating credit defaults in China and then sovereign downgrades by Standard & Poor’s for Brazil and Russia. Those countries combine for 26.3% of HYEM’s weight. [EM Bond ETFs Endure Rocky Environment]

In fairness, HYEM does compensate investors for the perceived uptick in risk associated with emerging markets junk corporates. The ETF’s modified duration of 4.41 years is slightly longer than that of HYG, but HYEM’s features a 6.67% 30-day SEC yield.

Market Vectors Portfolio Manager Fran Rodilosso notes institutional investors are wading back into emerging markets debt.

“These asset allocators may be looking for alternatives to the U.S. dollar, access to non-repressed yield curves, and at this point in the credit cycle, ways to increase the diversification of their credit portfolios,” the Market Vectors portfolio manager said in a statement.

Not only does HYEM yield well in excess of its U.S.-focused counterparts, but high-yield emerging markets corporates historically have lower default rates than U.S. equivalents. [Jump for Emerging Markets Junk Bonds]

A combined 86.3% of HYEM’s 362 holdings are rated BB or B with a third of those issues hailing from the financial services sector. Bonds issued by energy, materials and telecom firms combine for another 38% of HYEM’s weight, according to Market Vectors data.

Market Vectors Emerging Markets High Yield Bond ETF

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Tom Lydon’s clients own shares of HYG.

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