Fearful Americans Hoard Bonds, Dividends
Because of the economic uncertainty, Brady says investors now have to put the debt-limit drama in the rearview mirror and focus on fundamentals.
"This has been theater the whole way through," Brady says of the U.S. debt debate. "In Europe, the debt is much worse and the market is forcing the conversation, while in the U.S. we're having this debate when we really don't need to. Solutions are being forced upon some European countries by a market that will no longer fund those countries."
For that reason, U.S. Treasuries have remained attractive to investors throughout the debt debate and even in the face of a possible downgrade by credit-ratings agencies. On the other hand, bonds in Italy and Greece have rallied sharply higher as prices have plunged.
"Clearly, the market wants U.S. Treasuries," Brady says, noting the falling yield on the 10-year Treasury. "You really need something that is a big and liquid market in order to be a safe asset. Ironically, you need something that has a lot of debt in order to be safe. The U.S. Treasury still fits the bill."As Brady works to generate income from a variety of different sources, he has turned to dividend-paying stocks for the steady stream on payments as well as potential capital appreciation. The obvious flight-to-safety trade has been the 10-year Treasury, and finding other sources has become harder, he says. "It's been pretty lackluster growth and, being in the business of providing income to folks, it has been difficult," Brady says. "You have more and more people who need income. From my perspective, it's a job that in the last few years has been rewarding, but it has been harder." One bright spot among the wreckage has been global telecom. "In terms of relative valuation, we're finding more opportunities," Brady says. "Global telecom is a pretty low volatility business that is income-orientated. It definitely still has growth." The Thornburg Investment Income Builder Fund has investments in several telecom stocks that reward investors with generous yields. They include Australia's Telstra, the U.K.'s Vodafone (VOD), Spain's Telefonica (TEF), AT&T (T) in the U.S., China Mobile (CHL) and France Telecom (FTE).
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