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Stock Opinions by Randy LeClair

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Bonds. Canadian bonds went up something like 9% last year, but that was a rebound from a weak 2013. We actually had a negative return on the Canadian bond index in 2013, and people in the bond market had thought this was the end of the low interest rates that we saw in 2013. In 2014, we realized that tapering wasn’t a bad thing that everybody thought it was, so we had a really hard rally down again when interest rates dropped. 8.8% total return, on the Canadian bond index last year. He is overweight on the corporate bond markets, where spreads haven’t compressed yet.

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What do “D+18” and “FF” mean in corporate bonds? FF is a “Fixed Floater”, which means the bond is fixed for a certain period of time, and after that time it begins to float. In Canada it is a rare for it to go past the fixed point. The D+18 means the company has the right to Call that bond at the Deposit Rate +18 basis points. This is usually quite a bit tighter than where the market usually trades the bond.

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Interest rate drop. How does this look with the new issues of banking preferreds, high-yield, corporate debt, etc. You are looking at much, much lower yields, but he thinks there is a limit there, but doesn’t know what it is.

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COMMENT

This company is a very large part of the preferred share market in Canada, roughly about 10% of the market. Enbridge Inc has done a “drop down” procedure that a lot of energy companies are doing right now. They took about $17 billion in assets and dropped them down to their subsidiary income fund. This caught investors and credit rating agencies by surprise. The assets don’t go away. Right now there seems to be a little bit of risk as to whether they will continue this procedure, but he thinks they are fine and the company is going to recover.

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(A Top Pick Sept 8/14. Down 0.77%.) BMO Floating Rate Preferred Share Series 17. Shouldn’t be volatile except when the bank of Canada rate drops. It was up on the year, but as soon as the interest rate cut came in, it dropped. This was a defensive strategy for people who thought rates were going to go up. It is still a pretty good substitute for a Money Market type of return, plus you get the dividend tax credit.

Financial Services
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(A Top Pick Sept 8/14. Down 1.87%.) Enbridge Inc. 4.40% Series 11.

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PAST TOP PICK

(A Top Pick Sept 8/14. Up 4.73%.) Great West Lifeco 5.25% Series S.

Financial Services
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$5000 in an RESP to run for 13 years. Suggestions? He would suggest looking at either a fund or an ETF. You could also look at individual preferred shares.

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COMMENT

Preferred M’s? This is a reset, which went to reset in 2013. Started at a higher rate and then reset to a fixed rate at 3.39%. In this environment, it won’t reset again until 2018. The bad news on this is that he doesn’t think the bank would let it go to the next reset because of capital issues. This might be worth getting out of and then switching over to something else, perhaps insurance companies.

Financial Services
TOP PICK

Preferred series E 4.5%. (EMA.PR.E-T). A perpetual, paying about $1.25 annually. Has current yield of about 4.8%. Currently trading at $23.45 giving you over a 5.5% yield if they take you out in 2023.

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Preferred series C 5%. (CCS.PR.C-T). This can be redeemed in 2016 at $25. Currently trading at $24.31, below its par value. It gives you yield of 7.36%.

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TOP PICK

Preferred series G 4.75%. (ALA.PR.G-T). Energy pipeline. This is trading a little bit above par. It resets in 2019 and is 306 basis points, so you have the spread protection.

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Bonds. Bond performance this year has generally been terrific. Doesn’t think any bond manager in Canada thought that we would see a 6.5% return year-to-date or a 7.6% return year-over-year. We were coming up with such a bad year last year with a small negative performance on the overall bond index with an even bigger negative return on preferred shares. There was a lot of fear, but we are really having a terrific year. He starts top down with a macro view and then starts getting into sectors and countries. Obviously the US is doing very well. Canada a little softer. Europe is still in a kind of quagmire. We are in the 4th quarter where we will eventually get into rate increases, which is usually danger for the bond market. It usually lasts only a short period of time, but it is the period of time that people remember and are most fearful of. Easy money has been made, so at this time you have to be really selective.

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COMMENT

Preferred A’s. Very low rated at P4. It’s also a very small issue. This is a lot more risky in the world of preferred shares. It is yielding quite nice, but there is a reason the yield is so high.

management / diversified
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Good time to purchase a European bond? Which type? Corporate, high-yield or government? Europe is a good place, but you have to be careful. When you’re talking about corporate or high-yield, it is a very different environment there than what is in North America. Financing tends to be through banks so there are a lot of bank issues. It might be best to play this through an ETF or an index. Sometimes it is better to take your time, work through an advisor and look for opportunities that make sense for your portfolio.

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