The higher fees explain why these two mutual funds pay out lower yields than their ETF competitors. SPHIX yields 7.0% while FHIIX yields 7.2%.
Although their high costs and lower yield may seem like shortcomings, when it comes to total returns, the mutual funds have maintained a commanding lead over the ETFs. During the most recent two-year period, JNK and HYG have recorded total returns of 12.8% and 11.1%, respectively. FHIIX and SPHIX, on the other hand, have gained 18.9% and 20.6%, respectively. Having active management has paid off.
Year to date, JNK and HYG are up 6.0% and 4.0%, respectively, while FHIIX and SPHIX are up 5.2% and 5.6%, respectively.
For investors looking to trade in and out of the market, ETFs will continue to be the best option. HYG and JNK are more attractive for short-term trades due to their transparent nature, their ability to trade throughout the day, and the lack of short-term trading fees. Volatility is also a plus for traders. At one point the ETFs were down 4% or more this year, compared to less than 2% for the mutual funds.For long-term investors, mutual funds are the better choice due to their total return outperformance. Over the past year I have used HYG and FHIIX for my wealth management clients. In addition to income, the potential for price appreciation has made the sector attractive. -- Written by Don Dion in Williamstown, Mass. At the time of publication, Dion owned the iShares iBoxx High Yield Corporate Bond and the Federated High-Income Bond Fund.