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8 Yield Plays Suffering Under the Shadow of a Rate Hike


Amid concerns of the pending interest rate hike, the appetite among bullish investors seeking bigger returns in riskier financial markets has begun to slow down.

As the Fed moves towards raising rates next month, riskier investments like “yield plays”—REITs, IPOs, leveraged loans and bottom-tier corporate credit markets—are feeling the strain. Here are eight markets looking more bearish by the day.

  1. In the low interest rate market, the bond market exploded as companies sought to take advantage of cheaper funding costs. Up until now, junk bonds produced high returns, but this trend is reversing as portfolio managers look for safer investments. 

  2. Unicorns—private companies with market values above $1B —are now raising concerns over future valuations. Square, for example, did trade higher than its IPO, but has seen its stock fall considerably from its last private funding round. 

  3. Low interest rates and competition among underwriters also saw some loans made to companies with shaky foundations, and now regulators are voicing concerns. To make things worse, the sector’s fortunes have turned.

  4. Yieldcos—which were formed by power companies to own and operate power plants—gained significant popularity in the last few years as investors capitalized on their higher yields and dividend growth. But shares of these companies—such as SunEdison’s TerraForm Global and TerraForm Power—have crumbled under investor concerns over their debt.

  5. MLPs have dominated the energy sector, but as commodity prices collapsed and the threat of higher interest rates spread panic through the industry, they've taken a serious beating.

  6. REITs have bloomed in the strong soil of low interest rates and eager investors, but the threat of higher rates and borrowing costs have caused them to wilt. 

  7. Business development companies that loan to mid-market businesses have also worked well with low interest rates and even the financial crisis, as they fill gaps left by banks reluctant to extend to new companies. But, with many of the BDC’s share prices trading below book value, activist investors are stepping in. 

  8. Newly listed companies were often boosted by yield-hungry investors looking to fill their portfolios. But, many of these companies that have gone public in the last few months—such as GoPro, Etsy and Lending Club—have been trading below offering prices. [Bloomberg]