News Analysis date published New: 
Monday, October 22, 2012 - 10:00
New Date created: 
Monday, October 29, 2012 - 10:33
New Date last updated: 
Monday, October 22, 2012 - 10:00

11 Investments Yielding Up To 30.6% Right Now

Monday, October 22, 2012 10:00 AM

Take a look at this amazing chart of a security with a 14% yield and shares that rose more than 40% in less than four months.

This security is not a common stock. It's not a closed-end fund. It's not an master-limited partnership (MLP), a real-estate investment trust (REIT), a royalty trust or a preferred stock. It's not any high-yield asset class I usually talk about in my articles.

It's E-TRACS 2xLeveraged Long Wells Fargo Business Development Company ETN (NYSE: BDCL) -- an exchange-traded note (ETN).

Exchange-traded products, including funds (ETFs) and ETNs, are not the first securities to come to mind when you're searching for yield.

And while the most popular dividend ETFs such as Vanguard Dividend Appreciation ETF (NYSE: VIG), iShares Dow Jones Select Dividend Index (NYSE: DVY) and SPDR S&P Dividend (NYSE: SDY) carry puny yields of 2%-3%... if you go off the beaten path, then you can find 10%-plus yields and market-beating returns.

Just look at these 11 exchange traded products I found using the free online screening tool etfdb.com.

Let me warn you, yields such as these don't come risk-free and returns can be volatile. BDCL had a fantastic four-month run, as the chart above shows. But the shares dropped by almost the same amount in about two months last year, far steeper than the decline of the S&P 500 during the same time.

Not to worry though. By asking a few simple questions, you can find the best balance between risk and long-term reward potential when it comes to exchange-traded products:

1. Is the product an ETF or an ETN?
2. Are the shares actively traded?
3. Is the fund leveraged or unleveraged?

1. Is the product an ETF or an ETN?
The first two products on the list are ETNs. The rest are ETFs. There's a world of difference between ETNs and ETFs. ETFs give you an equity stake in the fund's underlying portfolio. ETNs are debt. They're a liability for the company and a promissory note to you.

There's credit risk with ETNs that you don't have with ETFs, but another risk is their complexity. ETNs have a maturity date. You can buy and sell an ETN daily, but its price is affected by expected returns at maturity.

If you hold an ETN to maturity, then you don't simply get back your principal, as with a bond. Your returns, if any, are impossible to predict. They're a function of index performance and the principal value of the note, less management expenses.

In contrast, the returns on ETFs tend to be more straightforward. The share price mostly moves in tandem with the benchmark index.

2. Are the shares actively traded?"
Right now, a lot more funds flow into ETFs than ETNs, so thin trading volumes could make it harder to get an attractive buy or sell price.

BDCL trades about 40,000 notes a day. By comparison, an ETF such as iShares FTSE NAREIT Mortgage Plus (NYSE: REM), carrying a rich 12% yield, trades more than a million shares on an average day.

That said, smaller ETFs such as Columbia Concentrated Large Cap Value Strategy Fund (NYSE: GVT), with only 100,000 outstanding shares, also can trade at very low volumes.

3. Is the fund leveraged or unleveraged?
Some ETNs such as BDCL amplify exposure to the returns of their benchmark index by using leverage. As a "double long" ETN, BDCL seeks to double the daily investment performance of its index. But the risk is also twice as much. If the index falls, then BDCL could double its losses.

It's important to note that leveraged funds that make big bets on a sector can be highly volatile. Low trading volumes can exacerbate the volatility.

Risks to Consider: Of course with investing, nothing is guaranteed. The metrics used in my analysis are based on historical trends. There is no guarantee that history will repeat itself.

Action to Take --> But that said, when you're looking for high-yield exchange traded products, it's best to find one with a healthy blend of high yield, good trading volume, and low volatility.

Of the 11 exchange-traded products listed above, the one with the best mix is FTSE NAREIT Mortgage Plus. If you're seeking greater exposure to the mortgage REIT sector, including American Capital (Nasdaq: AGNC) and Annaly (NYSE: NLY), which together account for 40% of REM's portfolio, this fund is worth a second look.

[Note: Have you had a chance to look at my research team's recently released report, "The 10 Best Retirement Savings Stocks?" These 10 stocks offer a safe income stream and yield up to 15%. Go here to learn more.]

Carla Pasternak does not personally hold positions in any securities mentioned in this article.
StreetAuthority LLC does not hold positions in any securities mentioned in this article.