Global Bond ETF Off to a Stellar Start

December 17th at 7:00am by Tom Lydon

Vanguard, the third-largest U.S. ETF sponsor, does not introduce as many new products each year as many of its rivals and when the Pennsylvania-based company does bring new ETFs to market, it often feels as though there is absolutely no fanfare surrounding debuts of rookie Vanguard ETFs.

So it is easy for some new Vanguard to fly under the radar, but with the issuer continuing to haul in assets at a such a prodigious pace, some of its ETFs can stay obscure for only limited amounts of time. Vanguard leads with $51 billion, or 32 cents out of every dollar invested in an ETF, up from 28 cents last year. It has seen 21 of its 67 ETFs grow by at least $1 billion in 2013,” reports Eric Balchunas for Bloomberg.  [Vanguard Keeps Hauling in ETF Assets]

In almost workman-like fashion, the Vanguard Total International Bond ETF (NYSEArca: BNDX) has quietly gone about its business on its way to accumulating $760 million in assets under management since its May launch. BNDX is the top asset gather among all new ETFs this year, though two rookie ETNs have BNDX beat. [10 New ETFs Have Rapidly Gained Assets]

BNDX is a unique bond offering in that it “offers broad exposure to fixed-rate investment-grade government and corporate debt issued in foreign currencies, with more than one year to maturity. Vanguard attempts to hedge the fund’s currency risk. This hedge should make interest-rate, inflation, and credit risk more-important drivers of the fund’s performance,” according to Morningstar analyst Alex Bryan.

The passively managed BNDX tracks the Barclays Global Aggregate ex-USD Float Adjusted RIC Capped Index, which gives investors exposure to non-US dollar denominated investment-grade bonds. Because BNDX only holds investment-grade bonds, credit and default risk are low as 70.6% of the fund’s holdings are rated AAA or AA.

That is the good news and the other advantages to BNDX as well. The ETF has an average duration of 6.6 years  below the 7.41 years found on the iShares iBoxx $ Investment Grade Corporate Bond ETF (NYSEArca: LQD) and “most of the fund’s holdings were issued in countries whose central banks may be less likely to raise interest rates in the near term than the Federal Reserve. Bonds issued in the eurozone represent close to 53% of the fund’s portfolio. While the region has stabilized, it is struggling with an unemployment rate above 12% and anemic growth. Consequently, the European Central Bank is unlikely to raise interest rates in the near term,” according to Bryan.

BNDX uses one-month forward contracts on the dollar to hedge currency, a trait not found on rival global bond ETFs. The new fund charges 0.2% per year and allocates a combined 45% of its weight to Japan, France and Germany.

Vanguard Total International Bond ETF

ETF Trends editorial team contributed to this post.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.

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