EXCERPT: Preferred Stocks: The Art of Profitable Income Investing (pg 31-37)
Let’s look at the key mistakes made by income investors leading up to the 2008 financial meltdown:
Mistake 1: Income Investing Is Always Safe!
Unlike other investment mediums, income investors had fewer alternatives than in the past; the once ample supply of corporate bonds from exchanges and brokerage house inventories had “dried up.” For example, during 1988, 1,127 exchange-listed bond issues actively traded. By 2006, the number had dropped to 131 issues—an 88% decline in supply.
This scarcity of exchange-listed bonds coincided with an increase in the availability of other types of income investments, such as bond mutual funds, an assortment of new preferred stock issues, and bond hybrid securities inaccurately listed as preferred stocks in most newspapers. According to Standard & Poor’s, by 2006 the size of the preferred-stock market has quadrupled over 15 years to nearly $200 billion.
While equity income investments possess many advantages; they are not conventional bonds and don’t posses the greatest advantage of a fixed-income investment—a maturity date and the knowledge of an exact return, if the investment is held to maturity.
In the “old days,” many income investors constructed portfolios of mainly bonds diversified by issuer, industry, rating, and evenly spaced by year (i.e., laddered), with each investment intended to be held to maturity. During the horrible bond bear markets of the early 1980s and mid-1960s, investors could maintain their discipline because they knew that, even though solvent bond holdings had significantly fallen in market value, they would get their principal back, as well as their expected interest payments, if they held the bonds to maturity. Continue Reading…