Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - 54

In Practice

How to Make Your Bond Portfolio Inflation-Resistant
By Marta Norton

When prices rise, fixed-income investors have the means to withstand the threat.

With stagnant home prices and unemployment near 10%, U.S. deflation has been harder to shake than many would have guessed. Yet, rock-bottom rates and massive stimulus give many investors, including us, reason to believe that inflation could pick up at some point down the road. If and when we see signs that seem to augur rising prices—for example, stabilizing rents, rising average wages, higher capacity utilization—we will tactically adjust the portfolios that we manage in the name of managing total return and risk. We might shorten duration or overweight hard assets, to name a few possibilities. But those adjustments aren’t necessarily options for investors who depend on a fixed income, such as retiring baby boomers who will likely require more exposure to bonds in the years to come. So, how does one create a bond portfolio that may mitigate the pressure of rapidly rising prices without taking on lots of risk? Drawing on our experience managing income-oriented portfolios for clients, we’ve prepared the following summary of useful vehicles that investors can incorporate into their fixed-income portfolios in an effort to combat inflation. To facilitate portfolio construction and illustrate how these various

securities could be applied in practice, we’ve also drawn-up a hypothetical “inflation-fighter” bond portfolio.
TIPS, the Obvious Choice

the threat of rising real rates. It’s likely that TIPS will remain a staple for the inflationminded, but at a lower allocation than their historical performance—earned at higher real yields—would dictate.
Bank Loans Bridge the Gap

Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities are the obvious inflation hedge. The federal government adjusts the bonds’ principal twice a year to account for changes in the Consumer Price Index. In effect, an investor who holds TIPS to maturity locks in a real yield while gaining complete inflation protection. No other bond can match that. It’s the intermediate term that gives us pause. Should real interest rates—that is, interest rates adjusted for inflation—move higher, TIPS will suffer. That’s an important consideration now, with real yields on 10-year TIPS sitting at around 1.5%, a far cry from the 3.5% to 4% real yields of the 1990s. That, in a nutshell, is why inflation protection is not simply a matter of loading up on TIPS. True, investors who hold to maturity need only concern themselves with the opportunity cost of collecting a lower real yield than the prevailing rate during the bond’s term. But that’s cold comfort to fixed-income investors who are unnerved by fluctuations in the value of their holdings in the interim. We think that investors need to carefully consider TIPS’ ability to hedge inflation against

We mentioned earlier our impulse to shorten portfolio duration in anticipation of rising inflation. In doing so, we reinvest maturing principal sooner at higher rates, blunting the impact of rates propelled higher by rising prices. Yet, as any incomeoriented investor can attest, shortening one’s portfolio can exact its own form of punishment, especially at times like now, when the yield curve is very steep. Bank loans can help to bridge the gap. As short-duration bonds, investors can use bank loans to shorten their portfolio’s duration without giving up as much yield. Because bank loans typically set their coupon payments as a spread over the threemonth London Interbank Offered Rate and adjust them quarterly, their coupons float higher as interest rates rise. It’s worth noting that generally lower-rated companies issue bank loans, so credit risk is a factor that inflation-minded investors should consider. True, bank loans are a form of senior debt accorded higher priority in

54 Morningstar Advisor August/September 2010



Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010

Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010
Contents
New on MorningstarAdvisor.com
Contributors
Letter From the Editor
What Aspects of Health-Care Reform Will Most Affect Your Clients?
Bonds, Chicago Style
Investment Briefs
Which Risk Are You Managing?
Eye on the Prize
Advisors Can’t Rely on Fidelity Alone
Health Care Gets Back to Business
An Opportune Time to Bet the Pharm
Reform’s Impact on Other Health-Care Industries
Top Takeover Targets in Biotech
After Reform, Narrow-Moat Firms Have Strong Prospects in Diagnostics
Health-Care Investing Alive and Well
Quest for Knowledge
Four Picks for the Present
How to Make Your Bond Portfolio Inflation-Resistant
Weeding Through the Energy Patch
Uncertainty and Value in Basic Materials
Stock Market Doom-Busters
Hunting Down European Debt-Dodgers
Mutual Fund Analyst Picks
50 Most Popular Equity ETFs
Undervalued Stocks With Wide Moats
VA Sales Slip a Bit in First Quarter
New at Morningstar
Star Wars, the Sequel
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - Cover2
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - 1
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - 2
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - Contents
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - 4
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - 5
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - New on MorningstarAdvisor.com
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - 7
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - Contributors
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - Letter From the Editor
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - What Aspects of Health-Care Reform Will Most Affect Your Clients?
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - 11
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - Bonds, Chicago Style
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - 13
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - Investment Briefs
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - 15
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - Which Risk Are You Managing?
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - 17
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - 18
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - Eye on the Prize
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - 20
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - 21
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - Advisors Can’t Rely on Fidelity Alone
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - 23
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - 24
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - 25
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - 26
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - Health Care Gets Back to Business
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - An Opportune Time to Bet the Pharm
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - 29
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - Reform’s Impact on Other Health-Care Industries
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - 31
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - 32
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - Top Takeover Targets in Biotech
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - 34
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - 35
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - After Reform, Narrow-Moat Firms Have Strong Prospects in Diagnostics
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - 37
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - 38
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - 39
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - 40
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - Health-Care Investing Alive and Well
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - 42
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - 43
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - 44
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - 45
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - 46
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - 47
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - 48
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - Quest for Knowledge
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - 50
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - 51
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - Four Picks for the Present
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - 53
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - How to Make Your Bond Portfolio Inflation-Resistant
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - 55
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - 56
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - 57
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - Weeding Through the Energy Patch
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - 59
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - 60
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - Uncertainty and Value in Basic Materials
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - 62
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - 63
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - Stock Market Doom-Busters
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - 65
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - Hunting Down European Debt-Dodgers
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - 67
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - Mutual Fund Analyst Picks
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - 69
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - 70
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - 71
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - 50 Most Popular Equity ETFs
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - 73
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - Undervalued Stocks With Wide Moats
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - 75
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - VA Sales Slip a Bit in First Quarter
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - 77
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - 78
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - New at Morningstar
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - Star Wars, the Sequel
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - Cover3
Morningstar Advisor - August/September 2010 - Cover4
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