Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management, a division of Deutsche Bank AG and a provider of exchange-traded products, this week added two new funds to its suite of ETP products that, according to the firm, are currently untapped by other issuers—municipal infrastructure revenue bonds and regulated utilities.
Ashton Goodfield, portfolio manager and head of municipal bond trading at Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management, says the db X-trackers Municipal Infrastructure Revenue Bond Fund (RVNU) is the only ETF on the market that offers investors targeted access to municipal infrastructure revenue bonds.
ETFs focused on municipal bonds have ballooned from 12 funds with 600 million in total assets in 2007 to 31 funds with $12.3 billion in assets under management as of year-end 2012, according to Goodfield.
Revenue bonds are issued for various projects including repair and/or replacement of bridges and roads, maintenance of public power and water systems, and construction of port and airport facilities.
“About two thirds of the overall municipal market are revenue bonds, so it is a big part of the market already,” Goodfield says.
The RVNU fund is passively managed and tracks the DBIQ Municipal Infrastructure Revenue Bond Index. Fund holdings have a dedicated revenue stream and stable, predictable cash flows, Goodfield says, adding that some of the issuers have monopolistic qualities such as airports, and they have stable investment-grade credit quality and strong liquidity.
As such, the index has less exposure to underfunded pensions and other post-employment benefit obligations that currently plague many state and local governments, according to fund literature.
The DBIQ Index doesn’t contain general obligation bonds, which are backed by the full faith and credit and taxing authority of the municipality that issues them. Their income stream depend on taxes—such as property and income taxes—that can fluctuate as the economic cycle changes.
“We see a demand for municipals that offer less exposure to these problems,” Goodfield says. “Investment grade infrastructure revenue bonds tend to have more stable and predictable cash flows than many general obligation bonds.”
The fund’s net expense ratio is 0.30 percent. According to the marketing material, the fund’s underlying index has an average coupon of 5.17 percent, and a yield to worst (the lowest potential yield that can be received on a bond without the issuer actually defaulting) of 3.22 percent.