Yield Gap Between Stocks and Bonds May Be Misleading

Bonds are now offering legitimate competition to stocks for the first time in years, according to a recent article in Bloomberg.

Yields on the ten-year Treasury are now more than 100 basis points higher than those of stocks (the dividend yield on the S&P 500 is roughly 1.8 percent), the article points out. “Rising interest rates,” it adds, “typically don’t have a negative impact on stock market returns, but with yields being so low for so long, it’s certainly possible this could cause a psychological shift in investor sentiment, especially considering the magnitude of the move up in stocks during this cycle.”

Bonds have offered higher yields than stocks for some time, the article reports, although this is the first time since 2013 that this has happened to this degree:

The analysis, however, requires more than just yield comparison, the article argues: “Bond yields are fairly straightforward, but dividend yields on stocks are not.” A bond, it points out, has a set interest rate and pays out a specific payment based on initial yield and principal amount. Stocks, on the other hand, have fluctuating yields, and dividends can change.

For investors wanting to understand the yield profile of their portfolios, it’s necessary to differentiate between bonds and stocks. “For bonds,” the article concludes, “this is a simple framework for setting future return expectations. For stocks, it’s not quite that simple because there are far more variables in the yield equation than meet the eye when just looking at the dividend yield on the market.”