Yield or Income? Yes Please

Written by: Global Thought Leadership | May 18, 2018

Source: Bloomberg, May 18, 2018 Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indexes are unmanaged, and not available for direct investment. Index returns do not include fees or sales charges. This information is provided for illustrative purposes only and does not reflect the performance of an actual investment.



  • For income investors, today’s higher Treasury yields are growing more tempting, when compared to aggregate stock yields.
  • But today’s rising rate environment actually makes both asset classes potentially more attractive, albeit for different reasons.
  • Over the past five years, the yield of the S&P 500 Index averaged a fairly steady 2.02%, despite some notable ups and downs.
  • By comparison, yields for 2- and 10-year U.S. Treasuries hit new 5-year highs, reaching 3.11% and 2.56% on May 16 and 17th, respectively.
  • But while bond prices do indeed fall when yields rise, the combined impact of falling prices and higher yields on total return is much more complex. The current environment could mean increased opportunities for higher-coupon income-producing assets. In fact, as coupons rise, the effect of dividends on total return could very well increase.
  • For equity investors, the relatively steady aggregate yield of the S&P 500 - during both rising and falling price periods over the past five years - has been supported by the improving financial health of its constituent companies. Both earnings and earnings payout ratios have increased.
  • And interest rates are rising at least in part due to an improving overall economic picture – which could likely be positive for stocks.
  • It should be remembered that both stocks and bonds are subject to rises and falls in total return over time, but the strengths of each asset class show up there as well; for example, the CBOE 10-year U.S. Treasury Note Volatility Index has averaged 5.22 over the past 5 years, while the more familiar stock-based CBOE VIX Index has averaged 14.67 over the same period.
  • Bottom line: Though the pressure on fixed-income yields has its origins in rising rates, investors might be well served to see the longer-term advantages of both asset classes in the current rising rate environment.



Yields and dividends represent past performance and there is no guarantee they will continue to be paid.

The opinions and views expressed herein are not intended to be relied upon as a prediction or forecast of actual future events or performance, or a guarantee of future results, or investment advice.

U.S. Treasuries are direct debt obligations issued and backed by the "full faith and credit" of the U.S. government. The U.S. government guarantees the principal and interest payments on U.S. Treasuries when the securities are held to maturity. Unlike U.S. Treasury securities, debt securities issued by the federal agencies and instrumentalities and related investments may or may not be backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government. Even when the U.S. government guarantees principal and interest payments on securities, this guarantee does not apply to losses resulting from declines in the market value of these securities.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: All investments involve risk, including loss of principal. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. An investor cannot invest directly in an index. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect any fees, expenses or sales charges.

Equity securities are subject to price fluctuation and possible loss of principal. Fixed-income securities involve interest rate, credit, inflation and reinvestment risks; and possible loss of principal. As interest rates rise, the value of fixed income securities falls. International investments are subject to special risks including currency fluctuations, social, economic and political uncertainties, which could increase volatility. These risks are magnified in emerging markets.

The opinions and views expressed herein are not intended to be relied upon as a prediction or forecast of actual future events or performance, guarantee of future results, recommendations or advice.  Statements made in this material are not intended as buy or sell recommendations of any securities. Forward-looking statements are subject to uncertainties that could cause actual developments and results to differ materially from the expectations expressed. This information has been prepared from sources believed reliable but the accuracy and completeness of the information cannot be guaranteed. Information and opinions expressed by either Legg Mason or its affiliates are current as at the date indicated, are subject to change without notice, and do not  take into account the particular investment objectives, financial situation or needs of individual investors.