Foreign Stocks & Emerging Markets

3 Mutual Funds to Earn 3% to 5% in Foreign Bonds

With slow growth in Japan and Western Europe keeping rates there low, U.S. investors will need to look to emerging markets for real yield.

Foreign bonds have been a poor option over the past five years. The average annualized five-year total return on world bond funds is a paltry 1.2%. That partly reflects government bond yields in Japan and Western Europe that are far below U.S. yields, as rates there remain low amid slower economic growth. A 10-year U.S. Treasury note recently yielded nearly 3%. By contrast, 10-year government bonds yield a mere 0.06% in Japan, 0.6% in Germany and 1.3% in Spain.

But for income-focused U.S. investors willing to take some risk, emerging-markets bonds offer generous yields–typically between 4% and 5%. They could log price gains if global growth continues to bolster emerging economies. Our favorite foreign-bond strategy: Own a mix of issues in both developed and emerging markets.

The risks: American investors in U.S. bonds can be hurt by fluctuating market interest rates and by defaults by bond issuers. Foreign bonds issued in foreign currencies face those risks, plus a third: swings in the value of the dollar compared with other currencies. In 2017, the dollar fell against most currencies, which boosted returns on many foreign bond funds (when the buck weakens, investments in foreign currencies translate into more dollars). A sudden rally in the dollar would have the opposite effect.

How to invest: We like T. Rowe Price Global Multi-Sector Bond (PRSNX, 3.4%), with a duration of 5.7. It holds government and corporate bonds in emerging and developed markets (including the U.S.). Its diversified mix recently included debt from issuers such as India, Thailand and Turkey. Dodge & Cox Global Bond (DODLX, 3.8%) has a relatively short duration of 3.3, with holdings split about evenly between U.S. bonds and foreign bonds. Over the past three years, both funds have gained 3.6% annualized, compared with 2.5% for the average world bond fund.

Among funds that focus solely on emerging markets, Fidelity New Markets Income (FNMIX, 4.6%), a Kip 25 member, remains a standout. The fund, with a duration of 6.6, limits currency risk by investing mainly in foreign bonds issued in dollars.

Most Popular

Where's My Stimulus Check? Use the IRS's "Get My Payment" Portal to Get an Answer
Coronavirus and Your Money

Where's My Stimulus Check? Use the IRS's "Get My Payment" Portal to Get an Answer

The IRS has an online tool that lets you track the status of your stimulus checks.
February 19, 2021
Want More Tax-Free Retirement Income? One Man’s Whole Life Decision
life insurance

Want More Tax-Free Retirement Income? One Man’s Whole Life Decision

Whole life insurance might not be something that’s on your retirement planning radar, but for this client, here’s how it served his need to control ta…
February 23, 2021
The Current Plan for $1,400 Checks
Coronavirus and Your Money

The Current Plan for $1,400 Checks

Here's what you need to know about the stimulus check plan currently being considered in Congress for President Biden's COVID-relief package.
February 18, 2021

Recommended

Why I’m No Fan of Trading Apps That Treat Investing Like a Game
investing

Why I’m No Fan of Trading Apps That Treat Investing Like a Game

In the wake of the GameStop saga, an investment professional shares his take on the rush of people buying into “hot stocks” only to get into hot water…
February 24, 2021
Lump Sum or Not: What’s the Best Way to Invest Your Year-End Bonus?
investing

Lump Sum or Not: What’s the Best Way to Invest Your Year-End Bonus?

What is dollar cost averaging, and when you have a significant windfall to invest, which method is better for you: dollar cost averaging vs. a lump su…
February 17, 2021
Is the Stock Market Open on Presidents' Day 2021?
Markets

Is the Stock Market Open on Presidents' Day 2021?

If you invest in the stock or bond markets, enjoy your Monday off. The markets will be closed in honor of George Washington's birthday.
February 13, 2021
What Exactly Is a Short Squeeze?
investing

What Exactly Is a Short Squeeze?

A short squeeze is a quick path to getting a lot of juice out of a stock. We explain the phenomenon, and the short selling that fuels it.
February 11, 2021