Warren Buffett, the infamous CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A), (NYSE:BRK.B), says that now is not the time to invest in corporate bonds. The investor was quoted in a Bloomberg story on the state of the bond markets, in a very active period for corporate debt securities.
According to the piece, May has seen bond sales of $120.2 billion so far, and this month is very much on course to outrun May 2008 sales of $162.6 billion. Last May saw sales of just $108.2 billion. Despite what seems to be a large amount of demand for bonds, yields are at substantial lows, and investors, including Buffett, are looking to shy away from the market.
The largest bond offering on record, the $17 billion offering from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) was already the focus of some bearish comments from Warren Buffett. He said that the yields on the high rated bonds were far too low to bother investing in. Buffett seems similarly disinterested in the corporate bond market in general.
Warren Buffett is on record saying that he feels sorry for fixed income investors because of the current lows in the bond market. Some investors have been heading toward high yield bonds in order to boost returns in their portfolios. On May 2, yields in the corporate bond market fell to just 3.35. Yields were at 11 percent in 2008.
There is a clear problem for investors in the debt market, and Buffett thinks the only way to beat it is to avoid it altogether. Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A), (NYSE:BRK.B) is not investing in corporate bonds, and neither should you if you’re looking for returns.
The lows in corporate debt yields are sending some investors toward riskier and riskier bets. The most popular buys are in high yield corporate bond, but there are some real problems in that market that investors seem to be ignoring in the hope that things work out and high yields are delivered.
It looks like the high yield market might be turning around on investors, and price risk, an often ignored facet of high yield bonds, is now greater than it was at the start of this year or last year. But what are fixed income investors to do, in the face of low returns and negativity?
They can take the risks, and be damned if they drag them down, or they can listen to Buffett and stay away from the market. That may require the acquisition of a new skill set however, which is not an easy task.