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Sherry Keegan, CRC®


The eNewsletter articles on this page provide valuable information on timely and interesting financial issues across a variety of subject areas, including retirement, investments, personal finance, annuities, insurance, taxes, college, and government benefits.

How Much Do You Know about Social Security?
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Retirement Plan and IRA Limits for 2012
Can I provide annuity payments to my heirs after I die?
Non-Equity Alternatives to Rock-Bottom Yields
Why Women Need Social Security
Retirement Rules of Thumb

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Non-Equity Alternatives to Rock-Bottom Yields

As interest rates have fallen to record lows and stayed there in recent years, the yield on your savings may be stuck in neutral. If you've focused on capital preservation and kept your assets in U.S. Treasuries, a money market account, or certificates of deposit, you may have minimized the chance of the financial equivalent of a car crash. However, you also may not be happy letting your portfolio's engine idle forever.

Dividend-paying stocks are one solution, but last year's volatility has made many investors wary of committing more money to equities. Though past performance is no guarantee of future results, for those who need something more than 2% 10-year Treasury yields and who can handle the additional risks involved, there are other alternatives that could potentially boost overall yield.

Corporate bonds

Many corporations have taken the opportunity presented by low rates to refinance their corporate debt and lower borrowing costs. Though any company could still default on its obligations, of course, and all bonds face market risk, stronger balance sheets have helped lower the overall risk of corporates as a whole. The spread between the yield on Moody's Aaa-rated industrial bonds and 10-year Treasuries at the end of 2011 was roughly 2 percentage points. For a Baa bond (one notch above noninvestment-grade), the difference was over 3 percentage points. Yields on noninvestment-grade bonds (so-called high-yield or "junk" bonds) were higher still, roughly 5% above 10-year Treasuries.

Bank loans

Floating-rate bank loans (also known as senior loans, leveraged loans, or senior secured loans) are a form of short-term financing for companies that usually do not rate an investment-grade credit rating. The rate is typically tied to the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) and adjusts with it, generally quarterly. As with high-yield bonds, the lack of an investment-grade credit rating means bank loans must offer a higher yield.

As with all debt, investors still run the risk of default. However, bank loans also have benefitted from the favorable corporate finance picture noted above. And because bank loans typically are a company's most senior debt obligation and are secured by some form of collateral, investors have typically recovered a higher percentage of their investment in the event of default than with high-yield bonds secured only by a company's promise to pay. Finally, as with all bonds, as bond yields rise, the price falls, which could cut overall return enough to offset any yield advantage. For the majority of investors, the most accessible way to invest in floating-rate bank loans is through a mutual fund or exchange-traded fund.

Master limited partnerships

Master limited partnerships (MLPs) can not only offer an income stream in the form of quarterly cash distributions; they also may offer tax benefits. An MLP that receives 90% of its income from qualified passive sources such as oil, natural gas, real estate, or commodities may qualify for tax treatment as a partnership rather than a corporation. If it does so, the MLP is not taxed at the partnership level, and may pass on a greater share of its earnings to the limited partners (i.e., individual investors), who also receive a proportionate share of any depreciation, depletion allowances, tax credits, and other tax deductions.

Many MLPs are managed so as to ensure that those tax benefits offset or eliminate any current tax liability on the cash distributions, which are considered a return of capital and used to adjust the individual partner's cost basis upon sale of the MLP units. An MLP that pursues this strategy successfully can in effect provide a tax-deferred ongoing income stream, which can be particularly appealing to investors in a high income tax bracket. Yields on MLPs vary greatly, depending on the particular MLP's assets and the way in which the general partner manages the business.

MLPs have risks. Because they can be relatively illiquid, an investor should plan to stay invested for a number of years, and individual investors' collective share of cash distributions may decrease over time. Also, the tax issues involved can be complex; for example, MLPs can create problems if held in a tax-deferred retirement account. Finally, commissions and other front-end costs can reduce the amount available for investment.

Data sources:  Corporate bond spreads: Federal Reserve System report on selected interest rates (H.15) as of December 29, 2011. Rates quoted are for Moody's Aaa- and Baa-rated bonds. High-yield bond spread: calculated based on Merrill Lynch High-Yield 100 as quoted on Wall Street Journal Market Data Center as of December 29, 2011.

Foreign bonds

Yields overseas can be attractive, and they don't necessarily involve investing in countries whose economies or governments are in flux. For example, as of late December, AAA-rated Australian sovereign bonds were paying 3.7%. However, remember that in addition to the risks involved with all bonds, such as interest rate risk, inflation risk, and credit risk, investing overseas involves currency risk; a change in the value of the U.S. dollar relative to its Australian counterpart could eliminate any yield advantage. Also, just as government-sponsored enterprise bonds are not necessarily backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. Treasury, all foreign bonds are not necessarily backed by their sovereign governments.

Before investing in an MLP or mutual fund, make sure to carefully consider the objectives, risks, charges, and expenses contained in its prospectus, which is available from the fund or partnership. Read it carefully before investing.

©2018 Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved.
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 Securities offered through Cape Securities, Inc., Member FINRA,SIPC,MSRB.
Advisory services offered through Cape Investment Advisory, Inc. Clearing services provided by Hilltop Securities, Inc. Investment advisory services offered through Cape Investment Advisory, a registered investment advisor. Additional services may be offered through Sherlyn Keegan and Keegan Wealth Management & Retirement Strategies, LLC which are not offered through Cape Securities, Inc.   Cape Securities, Inc. and Keegan Wealth Management & Retirement Strategies, LLC are not affiliated.


This communication is strictly intended for individuals residing in the state(s) of FL, GA, IL, OR and VA. No offers may be made or accepted from any resident outside the specific states referenced.

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