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Hate the Sell-Off? Raise Total Yield and Reduce International Exposure

The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage.

NEW YORK ( ETF Expert) -- How bad is the current correction? It depends upon the assets you currently hold.

Here are the top eight ETF positions for moderate-risk clients at my Registered Investment Adviser, Pacific Park Financial:
Moderate Portfolio: Percentages Below Respective Highs
Approx %
Vanguard High Dividend Yield (VYM) -4.0%
iShares High Yield Corporate Bond (HYG) -2.5%
iShares S&P Growth Allocation (AOR) -3.4%
Vanguard Total U.S. Stock Market (VTI) -6.4%
iShares Barclays Intermediate Credit (CIU) -0.2%
PowerShares S&P Low Volatility (SPLV) -1.5%
JP Morgan Alerian MLP (AMJ) -7.2%
PowerShares Emerging Market Debt (PCY) -1.8%
Average Drawdown -3.4%

There are several items worth noting above. First, the only international ETF holding is a dollar-hedged bond fund, PowerShares Emerging Market Sovereign Debt (PCY). Stop-limit loss orders and trend identification have been critical in minimizing exposure to emerging markets that clients had previously owned.

Second, risk is measured on the downside. It follows that limiting loss to roughly one-half of the S&P 500’s drawdown is a venerable result.

Third, the total yield of the above-described portfolio is roughly 2x the 10-year yield at approximately 3.6%. In general, moderate investors benefit immensely from pursuing an aggregate yield that is 100 basis points (1%) greater than a prominent stock benchmark like the S&P 500. (Note: The popular index currently yields about 2%.)

Looking ahead, one should expect a phenomenal buying opportunity. It will not happen until Germany blinks or until the European Central Bank takes a bold step toward stabilizing the region’s finances.

But it will occur. Low-deficit European countries could become attractive at that time, making exchange-traded vehicles like Germany (EWG), Austria (EWO) and Sweden (EWD) rapid risers.

For now, though, targeted asset allocation calls for assets with wide spreads over comparable Treasuries. That is the premise for allocating to investment grade corporate bonds via iShares Intermediate Credit (CIU), dividend stocks via Vanguard High Dividend Yield (VYM) and dollar-hedged emerging market bonds via PowerShares Emerging Market Debt (PCY).

You can listen to the ETF Expert Radio Show "LIVE", via podcast or on your iPod. You can follow me on Twitter @ETFexpert.

Disclosure Statement: ETF Expert is a website that makes the world of ETFs easier to understand. Gary Gordon, Pacific Park Financial and/or its clients may hold positions in ETFs, mutual funds and investment assets mentioned. The commentary does not constitute individualized investment advice. The opinions offered are not personalized recommendations to buy, sell or hold securities. At times, issuers of exchange-traded products compensate Pacific Park Financial or its subsidiaries for advertising at the ETF Expert website. ETF Expert content is created independently of any advertising relationships. You may review additional ETF Expert at the site.

Gary Gordon reads:

Real Clear Markets
Jeff Miller
Charles Kirk
On Twitter, Gary Gordon follows:

Jonathan Hoenig
Doug Kass
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