Erste Asset Management Investment Blog

Bond investments in the current environment

Bond investments in the current environment
Source: iStock

After the recent, rather substantial corrections on the bond markets many investors were wondering:

“Can or should I still invest in bonds or bond funds in view of possibly rising interest rates?”

Let’s first have a look at the bonds with the highest quality within the Eurozone, i.e. German government bonds. Where have the prices of these bonds gone most recently?

In our example, we have chosen a 10Y German government bond.

Please note: Past performance is not indicative of future development. Price charted from issue. The performance of time series of less than twelve months in particular is of low explicative value due to the short duration. The chart does not allow for fees.


The chart shows that bonds have incurred significant losses from April onwards (blue line, right scale). By contrast, the securities yield increased significantly (grey area, right scale). But the decline in prices was not limited to this specific bond. All across the Eurozone government bond prices were down. This was independent of issuer and maturity. Bonds with longer maturities took a considerably harder blow than bonds with shorter maturities.

How do bond price losses affect bond funds?

The performance of the bond fund depends directly on the bonds contained in the portfolio.

These are the most important features of bond funds:

  • The maturity of the bonds (longer or shorter remaining time to maturity)
  • Government bonds or corporate bonds
  • The rating of the bonds (investment grade (AAA to BBB-) or high-yield (from BB+ down))

We chose three sample bonds in the following:

  1. ESPA BOND EURO-MÜNDELRENT (invests largely in Austrian government bonds with average maturity)
  2. ESPA SELECT BOND (invests in government and corporate bonds, mixed maturities, small portion of high-yield bonds and foreign exchange possible)
  3. ESPA BOND EUROPE-HIGH YIELD (invests in high-yield corporate bonds, medium average maturity)


First step: long-term comparison

A comparison five years back yields the following chart:

Please note: performance calculated according to the OeKB method. The performance accounts for the management fee. The chart does not allow for a one-time load of up to 3.50% (depending on the fund) nor any other fees reducing return such as individual account or depositary fees. Past performance is not indicative of future fund performance.


On the basis of a 5Y horizon, the fund containing the government bonds, ESPA BOND EURO-MÜNDELRENT, (green dotted line) is roughly in line with the fund that offers a broad mix (ESPA SELECT BOND, blue line). But given that the maturity of ESPA BOND EURO-MÜNDELRENT is on average longer and the focus is on one bond class, this return was achieved on the back of higher volatility.

The fund with the high-yield bonds (ESPA BOND EUROPE-HIGH YIELD, grey line) differs vastly in terms of price performance, as particularly well displayed for example in 2011. Here, the fund incurred a clear decline – by contrast, the fund containing government bonds (ESPA BOND EURO-MÜNDELRENT) recorded significant gains.


Second step: short-term comparison, ongoing year (2015)

At first, the German government bond with longer maturity. Please bear in mind: the bond lost about 8 percentage points from its high in April to its low in June. The following chart shows the effects of this market correction on the selected funds.

Please note: performance calculated according to the OeKB method. The performance accounts for the management fee. The chart does not allow for a one-time load of up to 3.50% (depending on the fund) nor any other fees reducing return such as individual account or depositary fees. Past performance is not indicative of future fund performance. The performance of time series of less than twelve months in particular is of low explicative value due to the short duration.


The chart highlights the fact that funds with different strategies were also affected to a different degree by these developments. As expected, the fund with the focus on government bonds took the biggest hit (ESPA BOND MÜNDELRENT). The fund with the highest risk (as assessed on the basis of the rating of the bonds in the portfolio) recorded the lowest losses (ESPA BOND EUROPE HIGH YIELD). The asset class least affected by the corrections within the bond market were corporate bonds, where the performance in the year to date is still clearly positive. ESPA SELECT BOND, with its broad mix of different bond asset classes, ended up around the middle.


Learning points for the investor

There are big differences when it comes to investing in bonds. Depending on the maturity of the bond or the quality of the bond issuer, bonds record different performances in different market phases. The market movement from April 2015 onwards came as a surprise and was of considerable force. We expect such significant fluctuations to come about more frequently in the future. However, we cannot predict when and what bond class will be affected to what degree.

Our advice for the investor is therefore:

  • Expect higher fluctuations than you have seen in recent years in your bond investments
  • Plan on the basis of a longer holding period
  • Diversify: Ensure a broad basis for your investments

What opportunities can investment funds offer you in this context?

  • Diversification of the assets across various maturities
  • Diversification across numerous issuers (various rating categories)
  • Diversification across different bond classes (e.g. government and corporate bonds)
  • Diversification across different economic regions and currencies

Please bear in mind that not every bond fund invests in the same markets or market segments. Different funds will cover the individual needs of different investors.

Can I still invest in bond funds, and if so, what fund should I choose?

It is not possible to recommend one single fund to all investors, since every investor has their own individual priorities and risk appetite when it comes to their assets. Bonds and bond funds are a crucial element in every client portfolio regardless of the prevalent interest rate environment. But do not put all your eggs into one basket. Diversification across different assets is currently of utmost importance. Also, given the low interest rates, it may be a good idea to take also a look at the equity markets.

For details on the aforementioned funds, an explanation of the benefits and risks if investing, and all relevant legal documents, please visit the homepage of Erste Asset Management at

Please bear in mind the following risk warnings for the aforementioned funds:


Warning notices in accordance with the Austrian Investment Fund Act of 2011

ESPA BOND EURO-MÜNDELRENT intends to invest more than 35% of assets under management in securities and/or money market instruments of public issuers according to the Austrian Financial Market Authority. For a detailed listing, please refer to the prospectus, section II, sub-section 12.

ESPA SELECT BOND may invest significant parts of its assets under management in investment funds (UCITS, UCI) according to sect 71 of the Austrian Investment Fund Act of 2011.


Legal disclaimer

This document is an advertisement. Unless indicated otherwise, source: Erste Asset Management GmbH. The language of communication of the sales offices is German and the languages of communication of the Management Company also include English.

The prospectus for UCITS funds (including any amendments) is prepared and published in accordance with the provisions of the InvFG 2011 as amended. Information for Investors pursuant to § 21 AIFMG is prepared for the alternative investment funds (AIF) administered by Erste Asset Management GmbH pursuant to the provisions of the AIFMG in conjunction with the InvFG 2011.

The currently valid versions of the prospectus, the Information for Investors pursuant to § 21 AIFMG, and the key information document can be found on the website under “Mandatory publications” and can be obtained free of charge by interested investors at the offices of the Management Company and at the offices of the depositary bank. The exact date of the most recent publication of the prospectus, the languages in which the key information document is available, and any other locations where the documents can be obtained are indicated on the website A summary of the investor rights is available in German and English on the website and can also be obtained from the Management Company.

The Management Company can decide to suspend the provisions it has taken for the sale of unit certificates in other countries in accordance with the regulatory requirements.

Note: You are about to purchase a product that may be difficult to understand. We recommend that you read the indicated fund documents before making an investment decision. In addition to the locations listed above, you can obtain these documents free of charge at the offices of the referring Sparkassen bank and the offices of Erste Bank der oesterreichischen Sparkassen AG. You can also access these documents electronically at

N.B.: The performance scenarios listed in the key information document are based on a calculation method that is specified in an EU regulation. The future market development cannot be accurately predicted. The depicted performance scenarios merely present potential earnings, but are based on the earnings in the recent past. The actual earnings may be lower than indicated. Our analyses and conclusions are general in nature and do not take into account the individual characteristics of our investors in terms of earnings, taxation, experience and knowledge, investment objective, financial position, capacity for loss, and risk tolerance.

Please note: Past performance is not a reliable indicator of the future performance of a fund. Investments in securities entail risks in addition to the opportunities presented here. The value of units and their earnings can rise and fall. Changes in exchange rates can also have a positive or negative effect on the value of an investment. For this reason, you may receive less than your originally invested amount when you redeem your units. Persons who are interested in purchasing units in investment funds are advised to read the current fund prospectus(es) and the Information for Investors pursuant to § 21 AIFMG, especially the risk notices they contain, before making an investment decision. If the fund currency is different than the investor’s home currency, changes in the relevant exchange rate can positively or negatively influence the value of the investment and the amount of the costs associated with the fund in the home currency.

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Please consult the corresponding information in the fund prospectus and the Information for Investors pursuant to § 21 AIFMG for restrictions on the sale of the fund to American or Russian citizens.

It is expressly noted that this communication does not provide any investment recommendations, but only expresses our current market assessment. Thus, this communication is not a substitute for investment advice, does not take into account the legal regulations aimed at promoting the independence of financial analyses, and is not subject to a prohibition on trading following the distribution of financial analyses.

This document does not represent a sales activity of the Management Company and therefore may not be construed as an offer for the purchase or sale of financial or investment instruments.

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Subject to misprints and errors.

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