Over the past 12-24 months of rate hikes, short-term and ultra-short-term bond ETFs have served income-seeking investors well. But as interest rates continue to rise, exposures farther out on the curve have begun to offer attractive yields, too. As a result, many investors are now seeking to add duration back into their core fixed income portfolios.
While measured in years, duration isn’t the same thing as maturity. Duration is a measure of a fixed income investment’s sensitivity to interest rate changes. The higher the duration, the more that investment’s value will change with every rate shift, up or down.
Long-term bond ETFs typically hold portfolios of bonds whose cumulative duration is of 10-20 years. Some extended duration bond ETFs may sport much higher durations, however.
In this article, we examine three long-term bond ETFs from Vanguard that provide higher duration exposures at low-cost.
Vanguard Long-Term Treasury ETF (VGLT)
The $7.2 billion Vanguard Long-Term Treasury ETF (VGLT) is one of the largest and most liquid Treasury funds in its category. The fund, which primarily invests in U.S. Treasuries with maturities between 10 and 25 years, currently has a 30-day SEC yield of 4.35%. In comparison, the Vanguard High Dividend ETF (VYM), which sources income from the equity markets instead, has a 30-day SEC yield of 3.08%. (Source: Vanguard.)
VGLT isn’t the cheapest long-term Treasury ETF on the market. However, with an expense ratio of just 0.04%, it’s not exactly expensive, either. Its low cost has made it a popular option for core Treasuries exposures, and the fund has seen inflows of $3.6 billion year-to-date.
VGLT’s average duration is 15.8 years.