Bond ETF Investors Should Take a Second Look at Battered EM Debt

The emerging markets have been pummeled this year, but after the selling, EM debt and bond-related ETFs appear attractive for their level of risk.

“Given the state of the world with strong U.S. growth and contained inflation globally, it’s hard to imagine that emerging markets would suffer so much this year,” Pablo Goldberg, a senior fixed-income strategist with BlackRock, told CNBC. “There’s been a general pullback from risk in emerging markets.”

For example, thee iShares J.P. Morgan USD Emerging Markets Bond ETF (NYSEArca: EMB) has declined 4.3% year-to-date.

Spread of Average Emerging Markets Bond Yields

After the pullback in emerging assets, the spread of average EM bond yields over comparable duration U.S. Treasuries have significantly widened, with the average yield on the JP Morgan Emerging Markets Bond index up to 5% last week.

“It’s hard to buy when others are selling, but blood is in the water and that’s when you want to get involved,” George Rusnak, co-head of fixed-income strategy at Wells Fargo Investment Institute, told CNBC. “We look for value. Domestic high-yield bonds are priced for perfection, so you’re not getting paid for a risk that is still there. With emerging markets, you get more compensation for the risk. If we want to get aggressive, it’s in emerging market debt.

Related: 4 Short-Term Bond ETFs for Attractive Yield-Generating Plays