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Bond Ladder ETF's
Old 06-01-2013, 09:00 AM   #1
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Bond Ladder ETF's

Read this interesting article on Bond Ladder ETF's in WSJ. Interesting concept which I plan to research a bit more. Really like the idea of muni ladder ETF's.

Voices: Matthew Forester, on Bond Ladder ETFs - WSJ.com

Any of you using these ETF's at this point? If so what are your thoughts?
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Old 06-01-2013, 12:45 PM   #2
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I didn't know about these ETFs. If the expenses are good, and the trading spreads small, this might be a good vehicle. One might have to be careful that the brokerage which is putting them together doesn't stuff them with hard to sell goods at a high markup.

Thanks for posting this.

Ha
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Old 06-01-2013, 03:32 PM   #3
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I've been transitioning a portion of my fixed income allocation to the Guggenheim Bulletshares recently. I see them as a nice middle ground between building a portfolio of individual bonds and bond mutual funds albeit at a .14% cost (.24% ER less .10% ER for my alternative). I'm viewing them as an alternative to 5 year CDs that have more credit and liquidity risk than CDs but also more yield to maturity than CDs and more convenience.
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Old 06-01-2013, 04:09 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by haha View Post
I didn't know about these ETFs. If the expenses are good, and the trading spreads small, this might be a good vehicle. One might have to be careful that the brokerage which is putting them together doesn't stuff them with hard to sell goods at a high markup.

Thanks for posting this.

Ha
Expense ratios seem to be .24 to .40. Guggenheim and Ishares seem to be the primary entities. Guggenheim Bulletshares trade commission free on Schwab.
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Old 06-01-2013, 09:22 PM   #5
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i looked at these recently. Am I right in thinking these wouldn't be of any value in the accumulation phase and building a ladder with then is only useful when you intend to sell your bonds at regular intervals.
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Old 06-01-2013, 11:02 PM   #6
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i looked at these recently. Am I right in thinking these wouldn't be of any value in the accumulation phase and building a ladder with then is only useful when you intend to sell your bonds at regular intervals.
It wouldn't appear that way to me. There will be more brokerage expense, or buy/sell differential with these than with a standard mutual fund or ETF, since you will have to be buying a new year regularly.

These look pretty good to me, though if rates were more normal I think I would just go with treasury bonds and notes to make the ladder. As it is, I think I will use some of these to make a 3-4 year ladder.

Ha
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Old 06-02-2013, 07:52 AM   #7
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It wouldn't appear that way to me. There will be more brokerage expense, or buy/sell differential with these than with a standard mutual fund or ETF, since you will have to be buying a new year regularly.

These look pretty good to me, though if rates were more normal I think I would just go with treasury bonds and notes to make the ladder. As it is, I think I will use some of these to make a 3-4 year ladder.

Ha
What advantage does the ladder have over just owning a bond fund if you don't intend to sell? If you are in the accumulation phase or just taking the interest income a bond fund seems to be the way to go. If you want to sell the bond then I can see the ladder being better as you can wait until it matures and be assured you get your principal back.
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Old 06-02-2013, 10:47 AM   #8
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They have been mentioned in a few threads here. An article from zacks investments has info Target Date Bond ETFs: Best or Worst Fixed Income Funds? - January 15, 2013 - Zacks.com

Another doc from guggenheim on how they work http://guggenheiminvestments.com/Gug...s.pdf?ext=.pdf

One thing I haven't figure out is how the termination value works in the case where you buy when the NAV as gone up and then rates go up causing a decline in NAV. How do you get your money back. I think you have to look at each funds yield to maturity to see that.
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Old 06-02-2013, 11:38 AM   #9
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One thing I haven't figure out is how the termination value works in the case where you buy when the NAV as gone up and then rates go up causing a decline in NAV. How do you get your money back. I think you have to look at each funds yield to maturity to see that.
Guggenheim's documents point out that you won't necessarily get your money back. But the same is true when you buy a seasoned bond at other than its face value.



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They have been mentioned in a few threads here. An article from zacks investments has info Target Date Bond ETFs: Best or Worst Fixed Income Funds? - January 15, 2013 - Zacks.com
This is a very helpful article. It answers something I was wondering-aren't these things basically dead in the water in their terminal year, since during this year they will eventually be holding only cash?

Also, where do you find exactly what date a particular issue pays out- for example, when does the 2014 target fund, BSCE, pay out?

Ha
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Old 06-02-2013, 12:07 PM   #10
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What advantage does the ladder have over just owning a bond fund if you don't intend to sell? If you are in the accumulation phase or just taking the interest income a bond fund seems to be the way to go. If you want to sell the bond then I can see the ladder being better as you can wait until it matures and be assured you get your principal back.
It seems like it should have whatever advantages are perceived for individual bonds in this same, non-liquidating situation.

Ha
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Old 06-02-2013, 12:23 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by haha
Guggenheim's documents point out that you won't necessarily get your money back. But the same is true when you buy a seasoned bond at other than its face value.

This is a very helpful article. It answers something I was wondering-aren't these things basically dead in the water in their terminal year, since during this year they will eventually be holding only cash?

Also, where do you find exactly what date a particular issue pays out- for example, when does the 2014 target fund, BSCE, pay out?

Ha
I don't understand how the termination value is calculated. The Guggenheim PDF states that it could be more or less than what u invested depending on interest rates. However the zacks article states:

Investors have the option to either a) hold the ETFs until maturity, in which case the principal amount invested will be returned on the date of maturity plus regular coupon payments or, b) liquidate their positions before the maturity date if the need for cash arises, in which case they will be subject to receive payments equal to the current market price of the shares (which is subject to interest rate risk) times the number of shares bought plus any coupon due.

Can anyone shed light on how these work?

Thanks
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Old 06-02-2013, 12:34 PM   #12
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I don't understand how the termination value is calculated. The Guggenheim PDF states that it could be more or less than what u invested depending on interest rates. However the zacks article states:

Investors have the option to either a) hold the ETFs until maturity, in which case the principal amount invested will be returned on the date of maturity plus regular coupon payments or ...

Can anyone shed light on how these work?

Thanks
I am a nuts and bolts guy, and I don't have this clear yet either. But, when the Zacks article says "in which (maturity) case the principal amount invested will be returned on the date of maturity", I believe this is not the same as the amount you paid for the ETF shares, but rather the amount that the ETF invested in the underlying bonds themselves.

Ha
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Old 06-02-2013, 12:35 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmcgonig View Post
I don't understand how the termination value is calculated. The Guggenheim PDF states that it could be more or less than what u invested depending on interest rates. However the zacks article states:

Investors have the option to either a) hold the ETFs until maturity, in which case the principal amount invested will be returned on the date of maturity plus regular coupon payments or, b) liquidate their positions before the maturity date if the need for cash arises, in which case they will be subject to receive payments equal to the current market price of the shares (which is subject to interest rate risk) times the number of shares bought plus any coupon due.

Can anyone shed light on how these work?

Thanks
I look at it as a simple percentage ownership interest in a portfolio of bonds with the portfolio manager skimming off .24% for their fee. If I own x% of the pool, then I will receive x% of the interest coupon payments and x% of the par at maturity and x% of any credit losses. I realize that it is a bit more complex than what I describe, but at the end of the day what I describe is the essence of it.

What I don't understand is the concern on them hoarding cash in the terminal year. I would think that they would just make distributions of par as the bonds mature so during the target year you would get outsixe distributions each month that would be a combination of interest and maturity cash flow.

In any event, it that is an issue, I can always just sell.
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Old 06-02-2013, 12:38 PM   #14
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I would think that they would just make distributions of par as the bonds mature so during the target year you would get outsixe distributions each month that would be a combination of interest and maturity cash flow.
Do you find that explicitly stated in the company documents?

Ha
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Old 06-02-2013, 06:17 PM   #15
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It seems like it should have whatever advantages are perceived for individual bonds in this same, non-liquidating situation.

Ha
I can see the advantage of the bond ETF ladder in a rising rate world where you have a set date to sell, but if you are in the accumulation phase of just spending the coupon I'd go with a regular bond fund.
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Old 06-02-2013, 06:32 PM   #16
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Do you find that explicitly stated in the company documents?

Ha
No. I fact looking at the distributions of the 2011 and 2012 target date funds, it looks like they "hoarded" the maturity proceeds and then paid them out at the end of they year because you can see the distributions decaying over the course of the final year from what they were a year earlier and then a big return of capital at the end of the year.

I just wonder why they do that rather than just distribute the maturity proceeds over the course of the final year. Perhaps they don't want to see the decline in the ETF value as the partial distributions are made.
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Old 06-02-2013, 09:01 PM   #17
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No. I fact looking at the distributions of the 2011 and 2012 target date funds, it looks like they "hoarded" the maturity proceeds and then paid them out at the end of they year because you can see the distributions decaying over the course of the final year from what they were a year earlier and then a big return of capital at the end of the year.

I just wonder why they do that rather than just distribute the maturity proceeds over the course of the final year. Perhaps they don't want to see the decline in the ETF value as the partial distributions are made.
Thanks. Also, money paid out is no longer money that they get to charge management fees on. Overall, these things look useful to me.

Ha
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Old 06-02-2013, 09:12 PM   #18
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I would have expected more stable distributions with such ETFs:

BSCF Guggenheim BulletShares 2015 Corp Bond ETF BSCF Quote Price News

I wonder what drives the volatility.
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Old 06-02-2013, 11:09 PM   #19
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What advantage does the ladder have over just owning a bond fund if you don't intend to sell? If you are in the accumulation phase or just taking the interest income a bond fund seems to be the way to go. If you want to sell the bond then I can see the ladder being better as you can wait until it matures and be assured you get your principal back.
The advantage is a declining duration vs. the more-or-less constant duration of a regular bond fund. So, if you think that interest rates will increase going forward, you might buy these ETFs and just roll them over into new ones when they mature. In theory your principal would always be intact. You could also exit the entire position without principal risk whenever the fund matured. With a regular bond fund, by contrast, since it has a constant duration there is never a point at which you can exit without principal risk.

The current interest in these ETFs is probably fueled by the idea that since bond rates are at a generational low there is a possibility of a secular movement to increasing rates. If that were to happen the regular bond funds would never recover from the decline of NAV.

In other words, they work just like individual bonds, except they have the advantage of diversification and the disadvantage of a management fee.
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Old 06-02-2013, 11:46 PM   #20
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I would have expected more stable distributions with such ETFs:

BSCF Guggenheim BulletShares 2015 Corp Bond ETF BSCF Quote Price News

I wonder what drives the volatility.
Do you suppose that it might be a function of the calendar and the exact payment dates of the underlying bonds?

Ha
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