Stocks & Bonds


9 Investment Ideas That Yield 6-9%

To get 6% in a world where safe investments pay 1% or less requires accepting significant risk. Although a few corporate and foreign bonds pay 6% or better, many of today's best bets for high yield trade on exchanges like stocks, putting you in the often gut-churning position of watching their share prices whip around like a roller coaster. They include master limited partnerships, mortgage-owning real estate investment trusts and business development companies (see our glossary for explanations of how they work).

See Also: 45 Ideas for Getting More Yield

Becca Followill, head of stock research at U.S. Capital Advisors, a Houston investment firm, thinks MLPs are a great idea for superior income. Her favorite is Targa Resources Partners (NGLS, $46, 6.0%), a Houston-based operation that has a finger in every aspect of the production, storage and sale of natural gas. Followill expects its distribution rate to rise by an average of 11% annually over the next several years.

Morningstar’s Pikelny likes four closed-end funds offered by BlackRock. All invest in junk bonds and take on a moderate amount of debt to boost their payouts. The funds have many of the same holdings and similar yields, so Pikelny considers them virtually interchangeable: BlackRock Corporate High Yield (COY, $8, 7.6%); BlackRock Corporate High Yield III (CYE, $8, 7.9%); BlackRock Corporate High Yield V (HYV, $13, 8.2%); and BlackRock Corporate High Yield VI (HYT, $13, 8.1%). All recently traded at close to net asset value. Pikelny suggests buying the one trading at the biggest discount to NAV (or at the smallest premium).

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The Morningstar analyst also favors AllianceBernstein Global High Income (AWF, $16, 7.7%). The fund, which takes on a modest amount of debt, invests in corporate bonds and U.S. and foreign government bonds. Top holdings include bonds issued by Brazil and Argentina, but more than 70% of assets are in corporate junk bonds.

If you’re in a high tax bracket, consider a closed-end fund that owns municipal bonds. Nearly all such funds use borrowed money to boost income. One that doesn’t is Nuveen Municipal Value Fund (NUV, $10, 4.4%), which mostly buys high-quality, long-term bonds. Although at first glance the fund’s yield seems to disqualify it from this group, you really need to look at its taxable-equivalent yield—what someone would have to earn from a taxable bond to equal the yield of a tax-free bond. In this case, 4.4% is the equivalent of a 6.1% taxable yield for someone in the 28% federal tax bracket and 7.3% for an investor in the top 39.6% bracket.

For those who can stand more risk, UBS analyst Sangeeta Marfatia favors BlackRock MuniYield Quality (MQY, $17, 5.7%), which also buys long-term, high-grade munis. But unlike the Nuveen fund, this one uses borrowed money to boost income. A 5.7% tax-free yield is equivalent to 7.9% taxable for someone in the 28% bracket and 9.4% for a top-bracket investor.

If you want more diversification, check out PowerShares CEF Income Composite (PCEF, $26, 7.4%). It’s an exchange-traded fund that owns dozens of taxable, income-producing closed-end funds. Most of its holdings borrow money, though the ETF itself does not.

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