BondSavvy provides corporate bond recommendations subscribers use to make investment decisions for their own accounts. Our investment newsletter subscribers are either individual investors or financial advisors acting on behalf of individual investors.
This page compares the corporate bond returns achieved by BondSavvy’s recommendations to those of the iShares LQD, SLQD, and HYG bond ETFs:
For our exited recommendations, we show the name of the recommended bond; its CUSIP; pick and sell dates; and the return vs. the benchmark iShares bond ETF
For our current recommendations – those still rated buy or hold – we show the pick date; pick date price; current price; and the return our recommendation has achieved vs. the benchmark iShares bond ETF
Below our returns tables, we show a case study on Verizon bonds and Albertsons bonds, which explains the key drivers of these recommendations’ performance
The above tables show our corporate bond returns from the initial recommendation date (or "Pick Date") until either the sell date or the date indicated for our current bond recommendations. In July 2022, we began providing periodic updates on key drivers of our investment returns. We plan to provide this additional color each time we update BondSavvy's corporate bond returns.
The first half of 2022 was a rough one for bond investments, including many BondSavvy recommendations. We were pleased to see the market recover during July 2022, as 46 of our 48 bond recommendations achieved total investment returns of at least 1.86%, 34 returned at least 5%, and 20 picks returned at least 7%.
Figure 1 provides a summary of the investment returns our 48 corporate bond recommendations achieved during July 2022:
Figure 1: BondSavvy Investment Performance for July 2022 (1)
(1) Please see Figure 2 for additional information on our investment return calculations.
As of July 29, 2022, BondSavvy's 48 corporate bond recommendations included 28 high yield corporate bonds, 16 long term investment grade corporate bonds, and 4 short term investment grade corporate bonds. Figure 2 shows the July 2022 performance of all corporate bond picks made prior to June 16, 2022 and, for our June 16, 2022 picks, their performance since the pick date. We also compare each group of bonds to the benchmark iShares corporate bond ETF.
Subscribe to BondSavvy to learn the names, CUSIPs, and investment rationale for each corporate bond recommendation.
Figure 2: Summary of July 2022 Corporate Bond Returns for Each Bond Recommendation
July 2022 Corporate Bond Returns vs. iShares Corporate Bond ETFs
We outperformed the iShares HYG high yield corporate bond ETF for 14 of our 28 (50%) high yield bond recommendations. We outperformed the iShares LQD investment grade corporate bond ETF for 14 of our 16 (87.5%) long-term investment grade bond recommendations. Thus far, all of our June 16, 2022 short-term bond recommendations have outperformed the iShares SLQD 0-5 year investment grade corporate bond ETF.
Key Drivers of July 2022 Corporate Bond Returns
A key driver of strong July 2022 corporate bond returns was the fall in US Treasury yields since they reached a peak on June 14, 2022. As shown in Figure 3, YTMs of the 2-, 10-, and 30-year Treasury all fell, with the 10-year US Treasury YTM falling the most: 82 basis points (or 0.82 percentage points) from 3.49% to 2.67%.
Figure 3: Year-to-Date 2022 US Treasury Yields
Credit spreads for many of our recommended corporate bonds fell as well. For example, the credit spread for High Yield Bond 5 fell 90 basis points (bps), from 5.38% on June 30, 2022 to 4.48% on July 29, 2022. This was a big driver of its strong July 2022 corporate bond return. The credit spread of High Yield Bond 1, July 2022’s best performer, fell 93 bps. This bond price increased more than that of High Yield Bond 5 due to Bond 1's longer-dated maturity.
CASE STUDIES OF CORPORATE BOND RETURNS FOR EXITED BONDSAVVY RECOMMENDATIONS
Many investors believe that 'interest rates' are the only thing that impact bond prices. We have two real-world examples that will hopefully dispel this notion once and for all.
On September 26, 2017, during the premier edition of The Bondcast, we recommended Verizon 3.85% 11/1/42 (CUSIP 92343VBG8) and Albertsons 7.45% 8/1/29 (CUSIP 013104AF1). Understanding the changes in these bond prices helps investors better understand what to look for when investing in bonds and what causes bond prices to rise and fall.
Verizon 3.85% '42 Case Study
Verizon is an investment-grade issuer, as its bonds are rated Baa1/BBB+ by Moody's and S&P, respectively. Bonds rated at least Baa3/BBB- are deemed 'investment-grade,' meaning that the credit rating agencies believe they have a lower risk of default than 'high-yield bonds,' which have lower ratings.
In the below chart, we compare changes in the price of the Verizon 3.85% 11/1/42 to its benchmark US Treasury 2.75% 11/15/42 (CUSIP 912810QY7). The reason it is called the 'benchmark' is that the maturity date of this Treasury bond is almost identical to that of the Verizon bond. The price of this US Treasury bond moves up and down based on the demand for this government bond. As the price for this Treasury bond increases or decreases, its yield to maturity ("YTM") moves in the opposite direction. The yield to maturity of this Treasury bond is telling investors what the 'risk-free' investment return is for a Treasury bond that matures 11/15/42, as the US Treasury is deemed to have no default risk. (We don't believe the US government has zero risk of defaulting, but that discussion is for another post.)
When the Verizon bond -- and nearly all other investment-grade corporate bonds -- are quoted on a trading desk, they will be quoted as a spread to the benchmark Treasury. This spread is referred to as the credit spread. For example, suppose:
Verizon 3.85% '42 YTM: 4.22%
US Treasury 2.75% '42 YTM: 2.89%
The Verizon bond's YTM is the result of changes in the benchmark Treasury AND the credit spread. As Verizon's credit quality improves, its credit spread will typically shrink, as investors will require less return above the benchmark Treasury to compensate them for the extra credit risk they are taking. When the credit spread shrinks, the bond's yield to maturity decreases and the price of the bond increases. Similarly, if the benchmark Treasury yield moves up or down, that component of the Verizon bond's YTM will also move up or down.
A real-life example is shown in the below charts, which show bond price changes for the Verizon '42 bond we recommended September 26, 2017 and its benchmark Treasury. Since we recommended the Verizon bonds, they have increased in price 12.5 points, from September 26, 2017 through June 30, 2019, generating a total return of 21.4%, while the benchmark Treasury increased 4.3 points during the same time period. The Verizon bond price increase happened because the credit spread for these bonds shrunk, as Verizon has been reporting strong financial results. While moves in the '42 Treasury bond do impact the price of the Verizon '42 bond, the two bonds do not move in lockstep. In this case, Verizon's strong operating performance enabled the bonds to increase in price well beyond the price increase of the benchmark US Treasury bond.
Sources: Historical prices are from FINRA market data. The prices used to calculate the Verizon bond's total return are from Fidelity.com. Total returns include interest income accrued and/or received and capital appreciation. Returns do not contemplate re-investment of interest income. Total returns are not annualized returns.
Albertsons 7.45% '29 Case Study
Bonds rated below investment grade (aka 'high-yield bonds') do not trade in relation to their benchmark Treasury as shown in the below chart, which compares changes in the Albertsons 7.45% '29 bond (CUSIP 013104AF1) we recommended to its benchmark 6.125% 8/15/29 Treasury (CUSIP 912810FJ2). High-yield bonds are known as a 'credit investment,' and their price is driven by changes in the underlying credit quality of the bond issuer. For example, for the first half of 2017, the Albertsons bonds were trading at or above 96. Then, in June 2017, Amazon announced it was purchasing Whole Foods, and many investors thought Albertsons wouldn't be able to compete, which caused the bonds to fall into the 70s, at which point we recommended the bonds at 78.50 on September 26, 2017.
Since then, Albertsons has delivered strong financial performance, and the bonds increased in price 18 points from the date we recommended the bonds through June 30, 2019. You'll see the benchmark Treasury fell 2.4 points during this same time period, and movements in the prices in both bonds were not correlated.
Investment Returns Table Footnotes
We compare our high-yield corporate bond returns with the iShares high-yield corporate bond ETF ("HYG"), our short term investment grade bond returns with the iShares 0-5 Year investment grade corporate bond ETF ("SLQD"), and all other investment-grade corporate bond returns with the iShares investment-grade ("LQD") corporate bond ETF. The benchmark ETF is based on the Moody's and S&P rating of our recommended bond on the recommendation date. Split-rated bonds are compared to the HYG ETF. "NA" means "not applicable," as the bond shown is being compared to the other benchmark ETF. Please read additional disclosures provided in the footnotes below.
PAST PERFORMANCE DOES NOT GUARANTEE FUTURE RESULTS. ACTUAL RESULTS MAY VARY BASED ON WHEN SUBSCRIBERS BOUGHT AND SOLD BONDS WE RECOMMENDED BUYING AND SELLING, THE BROKERAGE FIRMS THROUGH WHICH SUBSCRIBERS TRANSACT, BROKERAGE COMMISSIONS PAID, AND MARKET VOLATILITY.
* Source of bond price charts: FINRA market data. Total returns calculated by BondSavvy. Returns are not annualized.
(1) Prior to our March 11, 2021 recommendations, the pick date price is the top-of-book offer price shown on Fidelity.com the trading day prior to the pick date. Price assumes a $1/bond (0.1 points) mark-up on the quoted offer price. On March 11, 2021, we began hosting The Bondcast at 5:00pm EDT, so the pick date price for all recommendations beginning this date is the top of book price with at least 100 bonds in quantity shown on Fidelity.com the afternoon of the pick date.
(2) Bond prices reflect a) for corporate bonds with at least two customer sell trades reported on the period-end date, the average sell price for up to the three latest customer sell trades and b) for corporate bonds with fewer than two customer sell trades reported on the period-end date, the best bid price on Fidelity.com on the period-end date that could fill an order of at least 100 bonds.
(3) Returns are calculated from the trading date immediately prior to the pick date through the end of the period shown, with the exception of recommendations beginning March 11, 2021, which are calculated beginning on the pick date. For returns calculations under "Corporate Bond Returns of Current Recommendations," the Pick Date Price and end-of-period price are calculated pursuant to footnotes 1 and 2 above. For "Corporate Bond Returns of Exited Recommendations," the Pick Date Price is calculated pursuant to footnote 1. With respect to the selling price: (i) for bonds owned by our founder Steve Shaw, the selling price comes from his trade confirmation statements; (ii) for corporate bonds not owned by Mr. Shaw, the selling price reflects the top-of-book bid price available on Fidelity.com when the sell recommendation was issued or, for sells beginning September 10, 2020, the average of the three customer sell trades, as reported to FINRA TRACE, executed immediately after such sell recommendations were made. Beginning June 3, 2021, for sells of bonds not owned by Mr. Shaw, the sell price was based on the top-of-book bid price available on Fidelity.com on the sell date that could satisfy an order of at least 250 bonds. BondSavvy believes these returns may be understated compared to the methodology of iShares returns, as (a) BondSavvy's total returns do not factor in re-investment of interest income and capital gains, which the iShares returns do include and (b) the individual bond returns reflect a purchase at the offer price and a valuation at the bid price, which can negatively impact returns from 0.25 to 0.75 percentage points on average. The iShares returns are calculated based on changes in the fund's net asset value and, therefore, aren't penalized as significantly by a bid-ask spread. Returns calculations are not annualized. BondSavvy total returns include capital gain/loss and interest accrued.
(4) During the 11/19/18 Super Bondcast, we recommended subscribers buy additional amounts of these previous BondSavvy picks. We also updated all other prior BondSavvy corporate bond investment recommendations, other than three companies which had yet to report earnings. This was BondSavvy's first edition of The Super Bondcast, a subscriber-only webcast where we evaluate the financial performance of our issuing companies and the performance of each recommended corporate bond. In certain editions of The Super Bondcast, we may recommend buying bonds of recommendations we had previously made a 'Hold.' When we show 'Exited Recommendations,' these returns will show returns from both the initial pick date as well as from other times we recommended subscribers purchase these bonds over the course of our ownership of the bond. For simplicity, other than the 11/19/18 Super Bondcast, we only show the performance from the initial pick date for bonds listed under the heading 'Corporate Bond Returns of Current Recommendations.'
(5) BondSavvy recommended these bonds at 89.92 on September 26, 2017. The price shows the blended price Steve Shaw has acquired these bonds across four different transactions. Note that we no longer are recommending purchases of these bonds but now recommend shorter-dated bonds of the same issuer.
(6) Returns calculated from the day immediately prior to the Pick Date through (i) the final trading day for the period for current recommendations or (ii) the sell date for recommendations we have sold. Source of iShares returns is the iShares website. We went to the home page for each iShares ETF, clicked "Performance" and then clicked the "View Full Chart" hyperlink under the "Growth of Hypothetical $10,000" heading. We then entered the various date ranges and recorded the investment returns shown for the specific iShares ETF. We compare bonds labeled "Short Term Investment Grade Corporate Bond" to iShares SLQD and all other investment grade corporate bonds to iShares LQD.
BondSavvy has made 100 corporate bond recommendations between its first set of recommendations on September 26, 2017 and July 29, 2022.
This chart compares the total returns achieved from our 52 exited bond recommendations to those achieved by the leading iShares corporate bond ETFs -- iShares LQD and iShares HYG. A "Beat" is any time our total return exceeded that of the iShares bond ETF. We show details of each BondSavvy recommendation in the tables below this chart.
After we make an initial corporate bond
recommendation, we update our recommendations during a quarterly BondSavvy subscriber webcast called The Super Bondcast. During each Super Bondcast, we update our buy/sell/hold recommendation
for each of our previously recommended corporate bonds.
In certain cases, we may make a bond a 'buy' after we previously made it a 'hold.' For simplicity, in the table under the heading "Corporate Bond Returns of Current Recommendations," we only show performance from the initial pick date.
The corporate bond returns shown under the heading "Corporate Bond Returns of Exited Recommendations" reflect the performance of each time we have recommended a bond, including if we recommended buying a bond after previously recommending a 'hold.' An example of this is the Expedia 3.800% 2/15/28 bonds (CUSIP 30212PAP0), which we initially recommended March 8, 2018. During the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, we made these Expedia bonds a 'hold.' Then, as markets began to recover, we made the Expedia bonds a 'buy' again on March 25, 2020.
Each of the iShares bond ETFs have different holdings, which results in different levels of
comparability to our bond recommendations. As shown in the
below tables, we compare each of our bond recommendations to either iShares LQD or HYG based on
the bond's rating as of the recommendation date. We
compare all split-rated bonds (bonds rated investment grade by one rating agency and below
investment grade by another) to the HYG ETF.
Please see additional disclosures regarding the calculations of our returns in the footnotes of the tables following this chart.
Following is a brief description of the iShares LQD
and HYG ETFs (all figures as of April 29, 2022 for LQD and May 3, 2022 for HYG):
BlackRock iShares LQD: $33 billion investment grade corporate bond index fund that holds corporate bonds that have an average rating of at least Baa3 / BBB- (the lowest investment-grade bond rating) from Moody's, S&P, and Fitch. The fund held 2,504 bonds.
BlackRock iShares HYG: $13.1 billion high yield corporate bond index fund that holds corporate bonds with an average rating of Ba1 / BB+ and lower. The fund held 1,287 bonds.