Getting Defensive With Corporate Bonds

The corporate bond market, including investment-grade issues, has recently been under some duress amid rising concerns about the tenuous grasps on investment-grade ratings held by some issuers. By some estimates, about half the U.S. investment-grade corporate bond market is rated BBB, meaning those bonds are one to three levels from junk territory.

Getting defensive with corporate bonds could be advisable and the Invesco Investment Grade Defensive ETF (NYSEArca: IIGD) is one exchange traded fund that can help investors do just that. IIGD, which debuted in July, follows the Invesco Investment Grade Defensive Index.

That benchmark “is designed to provide exposure to U.S. investment grade bonds with relatively higher-quality characteristics, including higher credit ratings and shorter maturities,” according to Invesco. “All eligible bonds are assigned a quality score, which is calculated based on the bond’s maturity and credit rating.”

IIGD ETF Details

The Federal Reserve’s rising interest rates have been a main contributing factor in the downfall of investment-grade bonds this year. As the Fed hikes the short-term fed funds rate, longer-duration investment-grade bonds with historically low yields have appeared less attractive.

Bond funds hold a collection of debt with varying maturities, buying and selling debt securities to maintain their short-, intermediate- or long-term strategy. When it comes to bond ETFs, investors should look at the duration, or a bond fund’s measure of sensitivity to gauge their investment’s exposure to changes in interest rates – a higher duration means a higher sensitivity to shifts in rates.

Related: Why Fixed-Income Investors Should Consider an Active High Yield Bond ETF