Chart of the Week: Divergence in the High Yield Market

Lord Abbet HY segments

2015 proved to be a turbulent year for the high yield bond market. Although US economic growth was resilient, the negative impact of sinking commodity prices on the energy and metals & mining sectors caused high yields to finish the year in negative territory for only the fifth time in over 25 years. This chart shows the divergence of returns among sectors within the high yield market. Losses in the energy and metals & mining sectors ended the year over 20%. These losses are unavoidable for the passive investor, whereas an active manager can provide protection by underweighting sectors within the high yield market that get hurt from falling commodity prices and allocating to sectors that benefit from it. The last four times the high yield market experienced negative returns for the year were 1990, 1994, 2000, and 2008. The following year it returned 43.8%, 17.4%, 58%, and 54.2%, respectively, adding to a bullish case for the asset class entering into 2016.

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