Wednesday 9 January 2013

Replacing Bondscape: Fixed-Income Data Sources (UK)

 Sadly, as of 1 November 2012, Bondscape is no more.

My first nervous forays into the bond market were made based on the daily data that Bondscape used to offer - not only on corporate bonds but also gilts. It was through Bondscape that I discovered perpetual bonds and gilts (which have made me money but - I hasten to add - are not necessarily right to buy now) as well as some under-priced corporate bonds that are now showing attractive capital gains. The pages of income and redemption yields made it relatively easy (perhaps too easy?) to identify and compare potential high-yield purchase targets in order to study them further.
How to replace it?
The Bondscape website bears the message:

“When created in 2001, Bondscape filled a gap in the market when there were very few options available to the UK retail network. In 2012, with platforms such as ORB and Bloomberg offering access to broad liquidity in the sterling fixed income markets, as well as RSPs such as Proquote, the need for Bondscape had reduced dramatically and, as such, we felt the platform served its purpose and reached its natural end.”
High-yield fixed-income securities make up half of my portfolio. Keeping track of them has never been easy: it is now a little harder, as information on fixed-income securities, such as corporate bonds, has been traditionally difficult for retail investors to get hold of. This is, perhaps, a market that the ‘professionals’ want to keep for themselves, as it can be quite lucrative.
So what other sources of information remain? There are two leading websites (with very similar names):
  •  Fixedincomeinvestments, (run by Mark Taber, as a ‘labour of love; it seems) has one of the most comprehensive resources on UK fixed-income securities, including price and yield data as well as information about redemption and calls. The website also provides well-informed comment on market developments.
  • Fixedincomeinvestor (operated by Stockcube Research and sponsored by Canaccord Genuity) has a comprehensive summary table of corporate bonds, although - annoyingly - it provides only income yields and not redemption yields. The security names link through directly to price charts. Their Bond of the Week feature is usually informative and thought-provoking.
There are many other sources of market data, although with less supporting information, including:
  • Selftrade has a fairly comprehensive list of European corporate bonds (including gross redemption yields), which links through to Fixedincomeinvestor for more information.
  • Canaccord Genuity provides weekly data for a range of UK, US and Canadian fixed-income securities.
If you are looking for even more resources, check out Fixedincomeinvestor’s list of links.
Although there are clear risks to the high yields on offer, this has been a great area to invest in recent years. However, these investments can be a tricky and people new to the sector would do well to immerse themselves in the two key websites listed above before making any decisions. What is more, there is general agreement that there is currently a 'bond bubble' and many fixed-income securities may now be fully priced. Buyer beware!

(A version of this article appeared previously on citywire money)

I am not a financial adviser and the information provided does not constitute financial advice. You should always do your own research on top of what you learn here to ensure that it's right for your specific circumstances.

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