The 10-year US Treasury yield (TNX) has risen from a historic low of 0.398% (3/9/20) to a recent high of 1.754% (3/18/21).
Rising bond yields tend to lessen the appeal of stocks for several reasons. Stocks tend to compete against bonds and other financial assets for funding. As bond prices fall, yields will rise, leading to an increased demand for the risk-free government bonds in an investor's portfolio. The higher bond yields can result in some stocks (i.e., growth stocks) losing their lofty valuations, as investors insist on a higher return for taking a higher risk (i.e., equity risk premium). Higher US Treasury yields also result in interest rates on all debt instruments such as mortgage loans, business loans, and corporate leases rising, making it harder for businesses to borrow money for growth.
However, history has shown that stocks can continue to rally higher when bond yields rise. It seems to run counter to the stocks versus bonds discussion mentioned above.
Rising bond yields are often associated with economic recovery. Sustained economic expansion or reflation tends to be conducive to a longer-lasting stock market rally. In an economic recovery/expansion, investors will begin to anticipate increased consumer spending, more employment, higher wages, and growing inflation expectations. When the economy recovers, corporate earnings will subsequently rise, resulting in higher stock prices.
Not all stocks perform the same in this economic environment. Defensive sectors such as Healthcare, Consumer Staples, and Utilities tend to underperform their peers under this scenario. On the other hand, commodities, financials, cyclical sectors, small-to-mid-cap stocks, and value stocks outperform.
Value Technology stocks have severely underperformed the market and their growth Technology peers for the past 10-plus years. However, in the past few months, many investors are warming up to matured Technology companies with stable businesses and dividends.
Value Technology stocks may emerge as the sweet spot in the marketplace since they trade at reasonable valuations while still benefiting from the work-from-home trend and most importantly, the longer-term structural growth Technology investment theme (i.e., 5G, cloud computing, e-commerce, artificial intelligence, robotics, social networking, and others). The market-cap weighting for the S&P Information Technology is currently 26.38% or twice the size of the second-largest S&P sector (Health Care 13.01%). Since long-biased money managers must continue to participate in the largest S&P sectors, will the recent selling of some of the mega-cap Growth Technology names lead to a rotation into Value Technology names?
Two popular Technology Value ETFs are available for investors - First Trust Nasdaq Technology Dividend Index Fund (TDIV) and ProShares S&P Technology Dividend Aristocrats (TDV).
First Trust Nasdaq Technology (TDIV – 53.77 and 1.91% yield) tracks a dividend-weighted index of US-listed technology companies that pay regular dividends. TDIV is comprised of 100 dividend-paying companies in the Technology and Telecommunication sectors that have declared a distribution in the last 12-months. The top 10 positions accounts for 58.81% of the overall ETF including INTC (8.87%), CSCO (8.24%), MSFT (7.93%), AAPL (7.53%), IBM (7.41%), AVGO (4.25%), ORCL (4.13%), TXN (3.92%), TSM (3.28%), and QCCOM (3.24%).
ProShares S&P Technology Dividend Aristocrats (TDV – 56.07 and 1.03% yield) tracks an index that is comprised of at least 25 stocks of well-established, technology-related companies that have increased their dividend payments for each year for at least seven years. The top 15 positions by market-cap weightings are HPE (3.19%), HPQ (3.07%), CASS (3.06%), CDW (2.99%), PETS (2.94%), ADP (2.91%), PRSP (2.8%), NTAP (2.8%), CSCO (2.78%), ORCL (2.77%), GLW (2.76%), PAYX (2.76%), MA (2.74%), CSGS (2.73%), and MSI (2.71%).