A new high-yield bond exchange-traded fund from ProShare Advisors LLC is embedding an interest-rate protection as yields climb from record lows.
U.S. government bond futures will act as a “built-in hedge against rising interest rates” in the ProShares High Yield Interest Rate Hedged ETF (HYHG), said Bethesda, Md.-based ProShares in a press release yesterday. The ETF, which started trading last week and has $24 million in assets, maintains bearish bets in two-, five- and 10-year Treasury futures contracts.
“Investors are hungry for income and high-yield has been an attractive asset class for some time,” Steve Cohen, a managing director at ProShares, wrote in an e-mail.
ProShares started focusing on high-yield “with the goal of addressing the growing concern around interest-rate risk with rates at all-time lows and only one way to go,” he said.
HYHG has a net expense ratio of 0.50 percent.
Fixed-income investors are seeking ways to protect their investments as speculation the Federal Reserve may start scaling back its unprecedented stimulus efforts pushes Treasury yields higher. Aggregate wagers on 10-year note futures turned bearish for the first time in almost two months last week, while average yields on dollar-denominated high-yield bonds have climbed to 6.12 percent from 5.98 percent two weeks ago, the Bank of America Merrill Lynch U.S. High Yield Index shows.
“Everybody and their brother has poured into high yield,” Scott MacDonald, head of research at MC Asset Management Holdings LLC in Stamford, Conn., which has about $600 million of assets under management, said in a telephone interview. “A lot of this reminds me of 2007 with everybody jumping into not just high-yield but riskier assets, and of course in ’08 the more you were in riskier assets the more you felt the pain.”
Nonetheless, MacDonald said hedging against interest rates rising “probably does play well to the environment that I think you’re going to find in 2014.”
Investors have funneled money into short-duration bond funds, especially ETFs, as the Fed holds interest rates at about zero for a fifth year, resulting in their “exponential growth of assets” since 2009, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co. data.
Inflows into corporate-bond ETFs have moderated, after a record $30.6 billion poured in last year, according to JPMorgan. Investors pulled out of U.S. junk ETFs for the first time in two months “as retail investors likely saw the sudden selloff in bonds as a signal to take some profits following the strong run,” strategists led by Jan Loeys said in a May 17 note.