The Risks and Rewards of Diversifying Your Bond Funds
Kanebridge News
    HOUSE MEDIAN ASKING PRICES AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $1,581,977 (+0.10%)       Melbourne $970,512 (+0.23%)       Brisbane $885,023 (+0.03%)       Adelaide $813,016 (+0.20%)       Perth $760,003 (-0.11%)       Hobart $733,438 (-1.28%)       Darwin $643,022 (-0.79%)       Canberra $970,902 (+1.87%)       National $1,000,350 (+0.23%)                UNIT MEDIAN ASKING PRICES AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $721,725 (+0.37%)       Melbourne $488,237 (-0.76%)       Brisbane $495,283 (+1.37%)       Adelaide $404,022 (-2.77%)       Perth $405,420 (-0.69%)       Hobart $498,278 (-1.60%)       Darwin $339,700 (-0.58%)       Canberra $480,910 (-0.04%)       National $502,695 (-0.26%)                HOUSES FOR SALE AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 10,626 (-230)       Melbourne 15,220 (+56)       Brisbane 8,417 (-24)       Adelaide 2,720 (-9)       Perth 6,897 (+56)       Hobart 1,234 (+5)       Darwin 281 (+5)       Canberra 1,079 (-30)       National 46,474 (-171)                UNITS FOR SALE AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 8,563 (-253)       Melbourne 8,007 (-12)       Brisbane 1,824 (-34)       Adelaide 493 (-16)       Perth 1,902 (-1)       Hobart 176 (+4)       Darwin 388 (-7)       Canberra 858 (+2)       National 22,211 (-317)                HOUSE MEDIAN ASKING RENTS AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $775 (-$5)       Melbourne $570 ($0)       Brisbane $600 ($0)       Adelaide $580 (+$10)       Perth $625 (-$5)       Hobart $550 ($0)       Darwin $690 (-$10)       Canberra $680 ($0)       National $642 (-$2)                UNIT MEDIAN ASKING RENTS AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $730 ($0)       Melbourne $550 ($0)       Brisbane $625 ($0)       Adelaide $460 (+$10)       Perth $580 (+$5)       Hobart $460 (+$10)       Darwin $550 ($0)       Canberra $560 (-$5)       National $576 (+$2)                HOUSES FOR RENT AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 5,654 (+231)       Melbourne 5,764 (+128)       Brisbane 4,271 (-9)       Adelaide 1,259 (+101)       Perth 1,944 (+50)       Hobart 337 (-36)       Darwin 168 (+19)       Canberra 647 (+18)       National 20,044 (+502)                UNITS FOR RENT AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 9,121 (+505)       Melbourne 6,022 (+34)       Brisbane 2,066 (+18)       Adelaide 366 (+1)       Perth 600 (-5)       Hobart 138 (-17)       Darwin 306 (+12)       Canberra 736 (+20)       National 19,355 (+568)                HOUSE ANNUAL GROSS YIELDS AND TREND         Sydney 2.55% (↓)       Melbourne 3.05% (↓)       Brisbane 3.53% (↓)     Adelaide 3.71% (↑)        Perth 4.28% (↓)     Hobart 3.90% (↑)        Darwin 5.58% (↓)       Canberra 3.64% (↓)       National 3.34% (↓)            UNIT ANNUAL GROSS YIELDS AND TREND         Sydney 5.26% (↓)     Melbourne 5.86% (↑)        Brisbane 6.56% (↓)     Adelaide 5.92% (↑)      Perth 7.44% (↑)      Hobart 4.80% (↑)      Darwin 8.42% (↑)        Canberra 6.06% (↓)     National 5.96% (↑)             HOUSE RENTAL VACANCY RATES AND TREND       Sydney 0.7% (↑)      Melbourne 0.8% (↑)      Brisbane 0.4% (↑)      Adelaide 0.4% (↑)      Perth 1.2% (↑)      Hobart 0.6% (↑)      Darwin 1.1% (↑)      Canberra 0.7% (↑)      National 0.7% (↑)             UNIT RENTAL VACANCY RATES AND TREND       Sydney 0.9% (↑)      Melbourne 1.4% (↑)      Brisbane 0.7% (↑)      Adelaide 0.3% (↑)      Perth 0.4% (↑)      Hobart 1.5% (↑)      Darwin 0.8% (↑)      Canberra 1.3% (↑)      National 0.9% (↑)             AVERAGE DAYS TO SELL HOUSES AND TREND       Sydney 28.0 (↑)      Melbourne 29.2 (↑)        Brisbane 30.6 (↓)       Adelaide 23.8 (↓)     Perth 34.2 (↑)      Hobart 29.4 (↑)      Darwin 39.9 (↑)      Canberra 28.2 (↑)      National 30.4 (↑)             AVERAGE DAYS TO SELL UNITS AND TREND       Sydney 29.4 (↑)      Melbourne 29.6 (↑)        Brisbane 30.3 (↓)       Adelaide 22.5 (↓)       Perth 39.2 (↓)     Hobart 26.1 (↑)        Darwin 36.1 (↓)     Canberra 34.4 (↑)        National 31.0 (↓)           
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The Risks and Rewards of Diversifying Your Bond Funds

With interest rates so low, some advisers think investors have too much to lose by focusing solely on bond index funds

By Randall Smith
Tue, Feb 9, 2021 12:27amGrey Clock 4 min

Baby boomers investing for retirement back in the ’80s, ’90s and ’00s rarely had to worry about the bonds in their nest eggs.

Bonds back then mainly served as risk-reducing ballast for when stocks tanked. And they weren’t that much of a sacrifice because they often paid healthy interest yields of 5% or more.

But now, when boomers are supposed to have increased bond weightings in their portfolios—40% or more of a nest egg, according to the conventional wisdom—rates have fallen to the floor. Interest yields on a bond index fund are as low as 1.1%. As a result, retirees and other index bond investors are left staring at tiny interest coupons and a greater risk of rising rates, and thus of lost principal.

“With interest rates near their historic lows, so close to zero, there’s generally only one direction they can go,” says Steve Kane, a manager of the $90 billion MetWest Total Return Bond fund (MWTRX).

In response, investors might want to consider adding to their fixed-income portfolios some bond funds that can offer higher yields than U.S. bond index funds and offer varying degrees of protection from the risk of rising rates. At the moment, commonly used bond-market calculations suggest that for every percentage-point rise in rates, a U.S. bond index fund will lose about 6% in price, wiping out years of interest receipts.

The main reason bond index funds are likely to get hit so hard is because of a feature in the index funds’ most widely used benchmark, the Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate. The “Agg,” as it’s known, is heavily weighted to the most conservative U.S. government bonds.

This investment-grade-only index is thus more vulnerable to rising rates because it doesn’t include some riskier categories of bonds such as high-yield, or “junk,” bonds, or floating-rate loans that pay higher interest and are often found in actively managed bond funds.

Indeed, sponsors of some actively managed target-date mutual funds—multiasset funds whose mix of investments grows more conservative as investors age—take action to serve retirees’ need for extra income by adding “diversifying buckets” of funds that aren’t part of the Agg index.

T. Rowe Price Group Inc., for example, puts about one-sixth of the bonds in its target-date fund for 70-year-olds in high-yield (or junk-bond), emerging markets and floating-rate funds. JPMorgan Chase & Co. puts one-fifth of retirees’ bonds in high-yield and emerging markets.

A series of retiree investment models designed by Morningstar personal-finance director Christine Benz allocates 14% to 22% of bonds to such categories, depending on investors’ risk appetites. Such bonds can “bump up yields and provide extra diversity,” Ms. Benz says.

The interest rates on these three kinds of funds may be double or triple that of a bond index fund. And funds that focus on some bonds, like high-yield and emerging markets, often outperform the index over a full market cycle. Funds of both types beat the index in the past decade, according to Morningstar.

These types of investments do make retirees’ portfolios riskier, however. All three categories got hit twice as hard as the safer index early last year, falling more than 20% in price while bond index funds fell just 8.6%, Morningstar says. Stocks fell 35% during the same period. Most of the losses have since been regained.

Still, seeking to avoid such swings is why some target-date fund sponsors, especially index managers like Vanguard Group, tend to avoid emerging-markets, junk and floating-rate bond funds.

Bogus boosts?

Maria Bruno, head of U.S. wealth-planning research at Vanguard, says trying to boost bonds’ return this way is misguided. Ms. Bruno agrees with those who say bonds should be “ballast” for times when stocks tank. “They shouldn’t be seen as a return-generating investment,” she says.

Dan Oldroyd, head of target-date strategies at J.P. Morgan Asset Management, disagrees. Mr. Oldroyd says that with stock valuations “stretched,” adding risk in a bond bucket with high-yield and emerging markets is a reasonable step. Similarly, Kim DeDominicis, a target-date portfolio manager for T. Rowe, says high-yield and emerging-markets funds can offer possible higher returns and guard against rising rates with “modest increases to expected volatility.”

The target-date funds discussed earlier, including similar Vanguard funds, and the Morningstar buckets all include inflation-protected-bond allocations of 7% to 15% of total assets. While those bonds have yields near zero, they can help protect purchasing power if inflation kicks up.

Riskier, higher-yielding assets are common in actively managed bond funds. A majority of the dozen largest report holding more than 5% of assets in high-yield bonds; five say they have more than 5% in emerging-markets debt.

The $70 billion Bond Fund of America has 6.9% in high-yield and emerging markets. Margaret Steinbach, a fixed-income director for the fund, says higher doses of these kinds of riskier allocations “could potentially compromise the downside protection” of bonds.

But others are more gung-ho. “We’ve been adding high-yield and emerging-markets bonds,” says Mike Collins, co-manager of the $64 billion PGIM Total Return Bond Fund, which holds 14.8% in the two categories. He says individuals could hold as much as half of their bonds in such riskier buckets, depending on their time horizon and risk tolerance.

DIY choices

For do-it-yourself index investors who want to add such exposure, Ms. Benz suggests Vanguard High-Yield Corporate fund (VWEHX), iShares J.P. Morgan USD Emerging Markets Bond (EMB) exchange-traded fund and Fidelity Floating Rate High Income fund (FFRHX).

Less-daring options include bumping up the yield only slightly with an investment-grade corporate bond fund, or moving some bond assets to lower-yielding money-market funds or short-term bonds to reduce interest-rate risk.

Morningstar bond-fund analyst Eric Jacobson says retired bond investors can also try to boost returns more safely by choosing an active manager from among top core-plus bond funds—which typically allocate 15% to 20% of their assets to riskier debt—such as Mr. Kane’s MetWest Total Return Bond fund, Dodge & Cox Income (DODIX) or Fidelity Total Bond ETF (FBND).

While that requires paying a much higher fee on one’s entire bond bucket than for a bond index fund, Mr. Jacobson notes that active bond managers have generally outperformed the index, thanks partly to the riskier assets.


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Apple Aims to Make a Quarter of the World’s iPhones in India

Supplier Foxconn plans to build more factories and give India a production role once limited mostly to China

Sat, Dec 9, 2023 4 min

Apple and its suppliers aim to build more than 50 million iPhones in India annually within the next two to three years, with additional tens of millions of units planned after that, according to people involved.

If the plans are achieved, India would account for a quarter of global iPhone production and take further share toward the end of the decade. China will remain the largest iPhone producer.

Apple has gradually boosted its reliance on India in recent years despite challenges including rickety infrastructure and restrictive labor rules that often make doing business harder than in China. Among other issues, labor unions retain clout even in business-friendly states and are pushing back on an effort by companies to get permission for 12-hour work days, which Apple suppliers find helpful during crunch periods.

Apple and its suppliers, led by Taiwan-based Foxconn Technology Group, generally believe the initial push into India has gone well and are laying the groundwork for a bigger expansion, say people involved in the supply chain.

Apple is emblematic of a move among companies worried about over dependence on China to move parts of their supply chains elsewhere, most often to Southeast Asia and South Asia. Diplomatic efforts by the U.S. and its allies to block Beijing’s access to advanced technology and strengthen ties with New Delhi have accelerated the trend.

The first phase of a Foxconn plant under construction in the southern state of Karnataka is expected to start operating in April, and the plant aims to make 20 million mobile handsets annually, mainly iPhones, within the next two to three years, said people with direct knowledge of the construction plans.

A further iPhone-producing mega plant is on Foxconn’s drawing board with capacity similar to the one in Karnataka, although the plans are still in a nascent stage, the people said.

Apple has also chosen India as its site for a manufacturing stage for lower-end iPhones to be sold in 2025. In this stage, known as new product introduction, Apple’s teams work with contractors in translating product blueprints and prototypes into a detailed manufacturing plan. Until now, that work was done only in China.

Combined with plans for expanded production at an existing Foxconn plant near Chennai and at another existing plant recently bought by Indian conglomerate Tata, these developments signify that Apple intends to have the capacity to make at least 50 million to 60 million iPhones in India annually within two to three years, said people involved in the planning.

Annual capacity could grow by tens of millions of units after that.

Foxconn indicated its commitment to India by announcing on Nov. 27 that it was investing the equivalent of more than $1.5 billion in the country, money that people familiar with the matter said would include production for Apple. The announcement didn’t mention the iPhone or name specific locations.

Global iPhone shipments last year totalled more than 220 million, according to research firm Counterpoint, a number that has remained steady in recent years. Because almost all iPhones are made in either China or India, China will continue to account for well over half of iPhone output.

Apple has faced challenges in China this year beyond trade tensions with the U.S., including the Chinese government instructing some officials not to use iPhones at work.

“India’s trust factor is very high,” said Ashwini Vaishnaw, India’s information technology minister.

This year, for the first time, India-made iPhones were introduced on the first day of global sales of the latest model, eliminating the lag with China-made phones.

Supply-chain executives say hourly wages are now significantly lower in India than in China, but other costs such as transport remain higher, and labor unions sometimes resist rule changes sought by manufacturers.

In May, the chief minister of Tamil Nadu state, where Foxconn’s flagship Chennai plant is located, said he would withdraw regulations allowing a 12-hour workday, weeks after the state passed an amendment authorising the longer hours. The chief minister, M.K. Stalin, attributed the decision to opposition from labor activists.

Karnataka state has stood by a decision earlier this year to extend the workday to 12 hours, up from a previous limit of nine hours, though companies must seek approval to do so. A state labor official, G. Manjunath, said new rules also allow companies to employ women on overnight shifts without seeking government approval.

After years of battling local-content rules and other red tape, Apple this year opened its first retail stores in India. Abhilash Kumar, an India-based analyst at TechInsights, said the top-of-the-line iPhone 15 Pro Max was selling well in the country, though it costs about $700 more than in the U.S.

Apple is also making progress in India toward building a network of core suppliers, long a strength of Chinese manufacturing. Officials said this week that Japanese battery maker TDK would build a new factory in India’s Haryana state to manufacture battery cells to power Indian-made iPhones. A TDK spokesman declined to comment.

The moves don’t mean Apple and its suppliers are leaving China. Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook has traveled to China twice this year, stressing the country’s importance as a production hub and consumer market. He visited Luxshare, a China-based assembler that is taking a bigger role in the China portion of iPhone assembly.

On social media, Apple has assured Chinese consumers that iPhones selling in authorised channels are made in China. At an industry event in Beijing that Chinese premier Li Qiang attended in late November, Apple’s booth stressed the company’s business with Chinese suppliers.

Foxconn Chairman Young Liu said in November that China would continue to account for the largest share of Foxconn’s capital investment next year.

Liu has visited India at least three times in the past year and a half, meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other officials. People involved in the planning said Modi’s home state of Gujarat in the west was one possible site of a future Foxconn plant. Meanwhile, the company has other projects in the works in the southern half of the country for electronic components and a plant likely to focus on making AirPods for Apple.

The plant in Karnataka state is under construction on 300 acres of land near the airport in Bengaluru, a southern city that is considered India’s tech hub. Officials involved in the planning said Foxconn has secured approval to invest nearly $1 billion in the plant and is seeking the go-ahead to put in an additional $600 million or so.

Combined with other projects, Foxconn’s investments in the state are likely to reach around $2.7 billion, they said.

Some iPhones are also made at a plant near Bengaluru that India’s Tata Electronics agreed in October to buy from Taiwan’s Wistron. Tata Group is the first local company to take on manufacturing iPhones.

“Apple has created an additional spoke in its India strategy by roping in the country’s largest business group—Tata—to be a part of its manufacturing system in addition to Foxconn,” said India’s junior information-technology minister, Rajeev Chandrasekhar.

—Shan Li in New Delhi and Selina Cheng in Hong Kong contributed to this article.


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