Tag Archives: corporate bond etf


One More Corporate Bond Electronic Trading Platform; Still None Include Bond ETFs

Well Matilda, as if the universe of corporate bond electronic trading platforms isn’t crowded enough, despite clear signs of consolidation taking place for this still nascent stage industry (e.g. upstart Trumid’s recent acquisition of infant-stage Electronifie) , one more corporate bond e-trading platform has its cr0ss-hairs on the US market. The latest entrant is UK-based Neptune Networks, Ltd., a consortium controlled by sell-side investment banks that has inserted electronic trading veteran Grant Wilson as interim CEO. Neptune’s lead-in value proposition’ is perfecting the IOI approach to capturing liquidity, and also offers a tool kit of connectivity schemes that bridge buyside and sell-side players.

Grant Wilson, Interim CEO Neptune Networks

Promoting indication-of-interest orders ( pre-trade real-time AXE indications) as opposed to actionable bid-offer constructs that are ubiquitous to equity trading platforms, is a technique that other US-based corporate bond trading platforms are already advancing. Neptune is also not alone in their positioning an ‘all-to-all’ model as a means to inspire buy-side corporate credit PMs and traders to embrace electronic trading, a seemingly counter-culture technique that enables them to swim in the same pool as sell-side dealers aka market-makers. The distinction that Neptune brings to the table is girth and size, thanks to its sponsors Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley, UBS, Citi and Deutsche Bank, each of which maintain board seats.  Unlike the other players in the space that are focused on building a “round lot marketplace” (as opposed to retail size orders that MarketAxxess (NASDAQ: MKTX) specializes in, Neptune carries over 14,000 individual ISINs daily, claims that its average order size is 5mm,  total daily gross notional in excess of $115bn, and according to Neptune’s marketing material, over 22,000 individual ISINs have been submitted to the platform since January 1st.

Lots of e-bond trading platforms, but none are incorporating bond ETFs, at least not yet.

As compelling as Neptune’s value proposition is, some corporate bond e-trading veterans are quietly wondering whether these initiatives are somehow missing the memos being circulated throughout the institutional investor community profiling the rapid adoption of corporate bond ETF products in lieu of their long-held focus on individual corporate credits.

According to one e-bond trading veteran, “Anyone who follows the trends [and follows the money] can’t help but appreciate that a broad assortment of Tier 1 investment managers, RIA’s and even public pensions’ use of bond ETFs is increasing in magnitude by the week, not the quarter.  If you’re operating an electronic exchange platform for corporate bonds, and your users are rapidly increasing their use of fixed income exchange-traded funds, having a module for ETFs would seem to be a natural next step.”

Others in the industry have suggested to MarketsMuse reporters that enabling users to trade the underlying constituents against the respective corporate bond cash index along with a module for create/redeem schemes, or even a means by Issuers can distribute new debt directly seems to make “too much sense.”  But then again, these same industry experts acknowledge the political landmines that would most assuredly be encountered by those trying to disrupt and innovate within corporate bond land are perhaps too much for those who need to prove their business models before aiming at new frontiers. Continue reading

bond etf liquidity

Calling for Clarity: Corporate Bond ETF Liquidity

There continues to be a call for clarity with regard to the topic of corporate bond ETF liquidity and where/how corporate bond ETFs add or detract within the context of investors ability to get ‘best execution’ when secondary market trade in underlying corporate bonds is increasingly ‘illiquid.’

This not only a big agenda item for the SEC to wrap their arms around, it is a challenge for “market experts” to frame in a manner that resonates with even the most knowledgeable bond market players.

MarketsMuse curators noticed that ETF market guru Dave Nadig penned a piece for ETF.com last night “How Illiquid are Bond ETFs, Really?” that helps to distill the discussion elements in a manner that even regulators can understand.. Without  further ado, below is the opening extract..

“Transcendent liquidity” is a somewhat silly-sounding phrase coined by the equally silly Matt Hougan, CEO of ETF.com, to discuss the odd situation in fixed-income ETFs—specifically, fixed-income ETFs tracking narrow corners of the market like high-yield bonds.

But it’s increasingly the focus of regulators and skeptical investors like Carl Icahn. Simply put: Flagship funds like the iShares iBoxx High Yield Corporate Bond ETF (HYG | B-68) trade like water, while their underlying holdings don’t. Is this a real problem, or a unicorn?

Defining Liquidity

The problem with even analyzing this question starts with definitions. When most people talk about ETF liquidity, they’re actually conflating two different things: tradability and fairness.

Tradability is actually a pretty simple concept: How well will the market let me get in or out of an ETF? And for narrow fixed-income ETFs (I’m limiting myself to corporates, in this analysis), most investors should be paying attention to the fairly obvious metrics, e.g., things like median daily dollar volume and time-weighted average spreads. By these metrics, a fund like HYG looks like the easiest thing to trade ever:

On a value basis, the average spread for HYG on a bad day of the past year is under 2 basis points. It’s consistently a penny wide on a handle around $80, with nearly $1 billion changing hands on most days. That puts it among the most liquid securities in the world. And that easy liquidity is precisely what has the SEC—and some investors—concerned.


But that’s tradability, not fairness. Fairness is a unique concept to ETF trading. We don’t talk about whether the execution you got in Apple was “fair.” You might get a poor execution, or you might sell on a dip, but there’s no question that your properly settled trade in Apple is “fair.”

In an ETF, however, there is an inherent “fair” price—the net asset value of the ETF at the time you trade it—intraday NAV or iNAV. If the ETF only holds Apple and Microsoft, that fair price is easy to calculate, and is in fact disseminated every 15 seconds by the exchange.

But when the underlying securities are illiquid for some reason (hard to value, time-zone disconnects or just obscure), assessing the “fair” price becomes difficult, if not impossible.

If the securities in the ETF are all listed in Tokyo, then your execution at noon in New York will necessarily not be exactly the NAV of the ETF, because none of those holdings is currently trading.

Premiums & Discounts

In the case of something like corporate bonds, the issue isn’t one of time zone, it’s one of market structure. Corporate bonds are an over-the-counter, dealer-based market. That means the iNAV of a fund like HYG is based not on the last trade for each bond it holds (which could literally be days old), but on a pricing services estimate of how much each bond is worth. That leads to the appearance of premiums or discounts that swing to +/- 1%.

To read the full article, please click here

Bond ETFs 101: Understanding the Meaning of Liquidity, Arbitraging iNav

   Courtesy of Dave Nadigindexuniverse

MarketsMuse Editor Note: For those unfamiliar with the logistics of buying and selling corporate bonds in the secondary market,  and particularly for those not fluent in why/how corporate bond ETFs are priced and trade, the following column courtesy of IndexUniverse’s Dave Nadig provides a good primer. Important take-away: if an executing broker attributes a poor execution to “not enough liquidity”, we respectfully suggest that you are likely using the wrong broker.

Apparently the last week around here has been iNAV week. With Matt calling for their banishment, me agreeing with him (much to my dismay) and Ugo Egbunike calling us both idiots.

And Ugo’s points are all valid. INAV can be a fantastic tool, and one which smaller investors can use to make money. The action in this week’s bond market is a fantastic case in point.

Now, bond pricing is a tricky thing. As Rick Ferri pointed out today in an excellent blog over at Forbes, when the liquidity of the bond market starts getting shaky, bond ETFs can trade well below their fair value. He uses that fact as reason to suggest avoiding bond ETFs. I see it as a trading opportunity.

Let’s pick a simple example I’ve been following all week: the Market Vectors High Yield Municipal Bond ETF (NYSEArca: HYD).

I’m not a bond master; I won’t tell you whether this week was a good or bad time to buy high-yield munis. But what I can tell you is that as a rule, it more often trades at a premium than a discount:1PoorMansArb

For the entire article, please visit IU’s site by clicking here

Credit Cold = ETF Pneumonia

wsjlogoCourtesy of WSJ Matt Wirz

Corporate bond exchange-traded funds attracted investors in record numbers during the credit bull run of the past three years. They also attracted criticism for trading with more volatility than the bond markets they were designed to track. With the selloff in Treasury bonds rattling credit markets, those concerns are proving well founded.

BlackRock’s iShares iBoxx $ Investment Grade Corporate Bond Fund has delivered a one-month total return of negative 2.98%, according to Morningstar. That compares to a total return of negative 2.06% for the widely followed Barclays Investment Grade Corporate Bond Index. An index of more liquid investment grade bonds run by iShares delivered a negative 2.67% return over the same period.

The higher volatility of the ETFs in softer bond markets reflects the “inherent limitations of the ETF investment vehicle,” says James Lee, a senior analyst covering high yield at Calvert Investment Management Inc.

Because ETFs cannot hold large cash positions to cushion market swings, they become forced sellers of bonds when investors sell out and forced buyers when investors buy new shares. That dynamic lends itself to heightened ETF volatility in bond markets where securities trade less often, and with wider bid-ask spreads, than exchange-traded stocks and commodities.

A Silver Bullet: Corporate Bond ETFs Dressed Up to Look Like Bonds

By Jason Kephart


BlackRock Inc.’s exchange-traded fund arm, iShares, plans to launch a series of corporate bond ETFs that look and act like individual bonds.

The proposed series of iShares Corporate Bond Funds will be a set of target-date ETFs, each holding a basket of investment-grade bonds set to expire in their given year. The San Francisco-based ETF provider already offers a similar suite of products that hold municipal bonds.

Fixed-income ETFs have been in high demand for the past two years as investors look for more targeted and liquid access to bond markets. Bond ETFs had $39 billion of inflows through the end of September, the most of any asset class, according to Morningstar Inc. That puts them on pace to beat last year’s record inflows of $43 billion, which were more than double those in 2010.

Even with the sudden popularity, bond ETFs have a long way to go to catch up with their equity siblings, which hold more than $900 billion.

Mark Wiedman, global head of iShares, said he thinks target-date bond ETFs are one of the ways bond ETFs are going to catch up to equities, as they’re more like what the typical bond investor is familiar with.

Mr. Wiedman explained that some traditional fixed-income investors aren’t fully on board with bond ETFs because they don’t know enough about them yet. Others are put off by the fact that the funds come with a ticker symbol and trade intraday, making them resemble a stock rather than a bond.

“Fixed-income people don’t get ETFs,” he said at last month’s Morningstar ETF Invest Conference in Chicago. “We need to make them look more like a bond.” Continue reading

The “ETF bid” and Feedback Loops: Corporate Bond ETFs

Courtesy of Brendan Conway

They’re calling it the “ETF bid” — the idea that corporate bond prices get juiced when passively managed funds have to buy them. It’s known to happen in thinly traded stocks in some instances. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that thinly traded, idiosyncratic markets like high-yield bonds are seeing a similar effect. It’s the cautionary part of an otherwise pretty encouraging story: ETFs’ power to crack open hard-to-reach asset classes for more investors.

This week’s print Barron’s ETF Focus on the subject concludes that investors should be especially wary of selling passively managed bond funds when markets turn bearish — that’s often the best time to buy. And investors who buy these ETFs when markets feel rosy pay a premium for the service. Obviously, it’s best to avoid paying extra if possible.

Yes, it’s the same old advice, to be a contrarian investor. But ETFs are only growing in importance in the bond markets. The more heavily they are traded, the more investors have to pay attention to their pricing dynamics — and that’s true even for those who don’t use ETFs. If you haven’t read our Barron’s print column, one of the key findings comes from Goldman Sachs’ (GS) Charles P. Himmelberg and Lotfi Karoui. The duo estimate that a monthly rebalanced portfolio of bonds tracked by the iBoxx $ Liquid Investment Grade Index, the benchmark driving the $24.5 billion iBoxx $ Investment Grade Corporate Bond Fund (LQD), has beaten comparable non-indexed bonds by roughly 4.7%, or about 1% a year, since the beginning of 2009.

Great, right? Well, not always. Index bonds also appear to sink harder during bad times, as they did late last year.

In this vein, we wanted to point out a meticulous look at how this works in practice, from TF Market Advisors’ Peter Tchir. Continue reading

State Street Introduces 2 New Corporate Bond ETFs

By Benzinga.com

State Street’s STT -0.55% State Street Global Advisors unit, the second-largest U.S. ETF sponsor, will introduce two new bond ETFs on Tuesday.

The SPDR BofA Merrill Lynch Crossover Corporate Bond ETF will track an index that offers exposure to dollar-deonominated U.S.-issued BBB and BB-rated corporate debt. BBB is the lowest investment grade rating and BB is a non-investment grade rating.

Qualifying securities must have at least one year remaining term to maturity, a fixed coupon schedule and a minimum amount outstanding of $250 million. Original issue zero coupon bonds, 144a securities, both with and without registration rights, and pay-in-kind securities, including toggle notes, qualify for inclusion. Callable perpetual securities qualify provided they are at least one year from the first call date. Fixed-to-floating rate securities also qualify provided they are callable within the fixed rate period and are at least one year from the last call prior to the date the bond transitions from a fixed to a floating rate security, according to XOVR’s prospectus.

SSgA will also introduce the SPDR BofA Merrill Lynch Emerging Markets Corporate Bond ETF . Other ETF sponsors have already found success with emerging markets corporate bond ETFs, a fact that could either bode well for the SPDR BofA Merrill Lynch Emerging Markets Corporate ETF or indicate the ETF is late to the party.

The WisdomTree Emerging Markets Corporate Bond Fund EMCB +0.42% , which debuted in March, now has almost $60 million in assets under management. The iShares Emerging Markets Corporate Bond Fund (bats:CEMB), which debuted in April, has over $10 million in AUM.

Expense ratios were not included in the prospectus for either XOVR or EMCD.

WisdomTree Gets Wise With Corporate Bond ETF

WisdomTree, the publicly traded New York-based ETF sponsor, today rolled out the market’s first broad-based emerging market corporate bond ETF, beating iShares and State Street Global Advisors to the punch.

The WisdomTree Emerging Markets Corporate Bond Fund (NasdaqGM: EMCB) is an actively managed portfolio consisting of dollar-denominated investment-grade corporate bonds from issuers in Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East. the fund, which is listed on the Nasdaq exchange, has an annual expense ratio of 0.60 percent.

EMCB is an active fund that grants Legg Mason’s subsidiary Western Asset Management broad discretion in choosing credits. That process is crucial to keeping investors out of highly volatile countries and away from illiquid securities, Matthew Duda, EMCB’s portfolio manager, told IndexUniverse in a telephone interview.

See the full article here: