SPDRs High Yield (JNK) Out – See What’s Now In

The MIP portfolio for over the past couple of years (well, a portfolio that was a precursor to the MIP) held the SPDRs High Yield ETF (JNK) for its over 5% yield. As fears of increasing rates continued to mount, I sold out of the position. My reason was I could swap out of that position and expand my positions into other existing positions, such as the Eaton Vance Buy-Write Opportunities Fund (ETV), which has an approx. 8% yield and is arguably less volatility than the S&P 500. So I felt the swap of the two was a better position to be in since I am not particularly of the opinion that the MIP has to have bond exposure to be successful, at least not high yield exposure at this time.

I also used the opportunities to expand the portfolio into some beaten down areas as well. As an example I started positions into the International Select Dividend ETF (IDV), the International Developed Real Estate ETF (IFGL), and lastly the Chinese Real Estate ETF (TAO). Main attraction here was to diversify away from U.S. real estate and increase exposure to international dividend payers. At their beaten down price, I believe I can start building a position at attractive pricing.

The majority of the proceeds from the sale of JNK were allocated to ETV throughout the past couple of months, so the new positions are relatively small at this time. As the MIP continues to generate cash, I will continue increase my holdings where the most opportunity is within the portfolio. The concern I do still have at this time however is that the main underperforming position in the MIP is the energy MLP exposure, which is still down about 1% this year within the portfolio. Very concious to try and not throw good money after bad, however I still view my position here very favorable, especially with the lack of infrastructure needed to transport all of the shale crude that is getting produced. I hold MLPA in this space.

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Energy Income, MLP or Majors?

The goal of the Millennial Income Project (MIP) is to create a well diversified, low correlation, high income producing portfolio that an average investor can replicate. To create this, I am looking for investments with steady, relatively safe, and growing cash flows. This is important to me because a key pillar of this portfolio is it’s ability to generate cash to be redeployed to the best opportunities within the portfolio for continued growth. Ultimately, the portfolio that gets create by leveraging the wisdom of the crowd, I hope will be able to produce a sustainable income that can help the investor live a better life.

A key pillar of this portfolio I believe will come from the energy sector. The energy industry’s history of paying sizeable dividends, and the favorable tax treatment of MLPs (Master Limited Partnerships), has always made this industry an attractive one from an income investor’s standpoint. From reading one of my latest posts you’ll see that the MIP portfolio currently holds an MLP ETF (Global X MLP ETF MLPA). I believe Energy MLPs are an interesting investment for income investors to consider due to their rateable business, and tax advantaged structure, which can provide income in a portfolio that can be redeployed back into the MLPs or elsewhere, where the risk weighted return is best. MLPA’s mid 8% yield and lower expense ratio (45 bps) is generally why I have held MLPA over AMLP (Alerian MLP ETF). However, when the MLP sector is under pressure and I am in a losing position, I may rotate out of one and into the other to capture tax loss selling.

Thus far in developing the MIP portfolio, I have leaned towards MLP ETFs to access cash flows from the energy industry; but is that best? The energy sector, utilizing the XLE (Spdrs Energy Select Sector) as a proxy for the U.S. industry offers a 3% dividend yield, which I have considered too low to support reaching my target portfolio yield (roughly between 5% to 10%). However, I am looking to the crowd to get perspectives on whether I should:

  • Dump Energy altogether as a pillar in the MIP Portfolio
  • Reduce the size of the MLPs importance in the portfolio and add more large, diversified energy allocations such as the XLE.
  • Consider alternative vehicles to access these cash flows, such as Closed-end Funds or ETNs (Exchange traded notes).
  • Consider energy in a completely different context

Something else I have been considering is adding Energy related REITs as an alternative to MLPs; however I am finding it difficult to find companies in this space other than CORR (CorEnergy Infrastructure Trust).

I recognize that MLPA may not be the best vehicle to access energy cashflows, so if there is a better vehicle out there for the average investor, please comment below and let us have a conversation. You aren’t just helping me here, you’re helping any income investor that want’s to have the best possible income portfolio out there.