New Junk Bond ETF Deserves More Attention

It has not been particularly good year for high-yield bond exchange traded funds. Things have been even worse for emerging markets debt funds, both the dollar-denominated and local currency varietals.

The combination of the two assets classes, junk and developing world sovereigns, in theory, should not be appealing. However, at a time when investors are still skittish about a possible spike in Treasury yields and are flocking to low duration bond ETFs, one new fund merits additional consideration. [Short Duration Bond ETFs See Inflows Surge]

The Powershares Global Short Term High Yield Bond Portfolio (NYSEArca: PGHY) is a combination U.S. and international high-yield bond ETF. Ten countries are represented in the ETF, which debuted in June, but the U.S. commands over 54% of PGHY’s country weight. The U.K. and Luxembourg are PGHY’s other developed market exposures, but represent just 4.4% of the ETF’s geographic weight.

PGHY’s low effective duration of 1.36 years helps the fund cope in a rising rate environment. Duration is a measure of a fund’s sensitivity to interest rate changes, and high durations will have a greater negative impact on an ETF’s performance as interest rates rise. [Fight Rising With This International Short-Term Bond ETF]

The emphasis investors have recently put on low duration is palpable. For example, the Vanguard Short-Term Bond ETF (NYSEArca: BSV) has seen year-to-date inflows of $4.77 billion, but BSV yields a piddly 1.25% compared PGHY’s 30-day SEC yield of 3.28%.

PGHY has also outperformed BSV since it came to market. Actually, although PGHY is up just 1.6% since it debuted, the last of bond ETFs it has outperformed over that time is impressive. PGHY has outpaced the major dollar-denominated emerging markets sovereign debt ETFs as well as the largest U.S. junk bond funds.