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TAL International Group, Inc. (TAL), Annaly Capital Management, Inc. (NLY) – High Yield: Stocks or Bonds?

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A few weeks ago, CAPS player Valyooo started a lively debate with a blog entry asking for opinions on stocks vs. high-yield bonds. Since then, the Fed has hinted that the easy-money flow might be slowed a bit and interest rates have climbed. Let’s do a little digging to try and find an answer, or at least add some color to the question.

Annaly Capital Management, Inc. (NYSE:NLY)

The junk
First up, some high-yield or junk bonds. Junk bonds carry low credit ratings and unlike treasuries or high-grade corporates, there is a non-negligible risk of default. Therefore, investors demand higher interest rates because of the greater risk. A search at FINRA.org for corporate bonds with 5% to 10% yields and eight to 12 years until maturity turned up more than 500 hits, including the five in the table below. These five are issued by publicly traded companies and have credit ratings near the top of junk.

Issuer

Price Per $100 Face Value

Yield

S&P Rating

Matures

Markwest Energy Partners

$91.00

5.69%

BB

7/15/2023

HCA

$100.00

5.87%

B-

5/1/2023

CenturyLink

$100.75

5.69%

BB

3/15/2022

Goodyear Tire & Rubber

$104.00

6.27%

B+

5/15/2022

Advanced Micro Devices

$97.00

7.97%

B

8/15/2022

Source: FINRA.org.

Only Advanced Micro Devices lost money over the past year and analysts predict all five issuers will be profitable over their next fiscal year. All five companies are highly leveraged with debt, which doesn’t leave a lot of room for a bad business cycle.

Junk bonds also offer a chance for capital appreciation if the issuing company’s business improves to a point where the debt rating improves. For example, if the auto business grows and creates tire demand, Goodyear’s business should improve and may get strong enough for an upgrade in the credit rating. If that happens, the bonds would trade up in price comparable to other issues with similar ratings.

The equities
I put the Fool’s stock screener to work with the following settings to find some high dividend yields

Dividend yield greater than 5%

Market capitalization greater than $1 billion

Trailing price-to-earnings ratio positive and less than 20

CAPS rating of 4 or 5 (out of 5) stars

The screen returned 65 hits, including the five summarized below.

Company Name

Current Dividend Yield

Price-to-Earnings Ratio (TTM)

Sector

CAPS Rating

Annaly Capital Management, Inc. (NYSE:NLY)

12.7%

7.4

financial

4

AstraZeneca plc (ADR) (NYSE:AZN)

8%

10.5

health care

4

El Paso Pipeline Partners, L.P. (NYSE:EPB)

5.7%

19.9

basic materials

5

National Grid plc (ADR) (NYSE:NGG)

7.1%

12

utilities

5

TAL International Group, Inc. (NYSE:TAL)

6.1%

10.9

services

5

Source: Motley Fool stock screener.

Annaly Capital Management, Inc. (NYSE:NLY) is a real estate investment trust, or REIT, specializing in mortgage securities. As long as a REIT distributes at least 90% of its earnings to shareholders, it doesn’t pay income tax, which is why the yields tend to be high. Annaly Capital Management, Inc. (NYSE:NLY) and other mREITs buy mortgage-backed securities using leverage, i.e., they borrow short-term money and use it to buy the MBS. Profits come from the spread between the cost of funds and the yield on the MBS. Annaly Capital Management, Inc. (NYSE:NLY) recently cut its dividend as the interest rate environment is getting tougher for mREITs.

Pharma firm AstraZeneca plc (ADR) (NYSE:AZN) has a goal of maintaining or growing its dividend every year and targets 50% of earnings as its dividend payout. The payout ratio is currently at 62% and analysts are predicting decreasing earnings over the next few years.

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