Global bond funds have become more popular among investors over the years. Funds from emerging markets have also grown, although there have been periods of inflows and outflows. With the Federal Reserve steering monetary policy in the U.S. toward record-low interest rates since the 2008 financial crisis, investors are searching for better yields both far and wide. Thus, inflows into global bond funds have increased. Several funds in the global bond space provide investors with solid options.
Vanguard Total International Bond Index Fund Investor Shares (VTIBX)
The Vanguard Total International Bond Index Fund Investor Shares provides broad exposure to investment-grade bonds outside of the United States. The fund tracks the performance of an index that includes international government, agency and corporate debt securities from developed and emerging countries. Bonds in the fund have an average effective maturity of 8.9 years with an average duration of 7.4 years. The lower duration indicates the fund has less risk exposure to an increase in interest rates. The fund has a low expense ratio of 0.23%, similar to most Vanguard funds.
The fund has $62.3 billion in assets under management (AUM) and a yield of 1.46%. The fund only began trading in 2013. It has been able to accumulate assets quickly due to Vanguard directing a portion of assets from its target date funds into it.
Templeton Global Bond Fund (TPINX)
The Templeton Global Bond Fund seeks to provide current income and with capital appreciation and growth by investing at least 80% of assets in governmental and agency bonds around the world. The portfolio managers look for investment opportunities across currencies and interest rates for reasonable returns, as well as substantial portfolio diversification. The fund has $17.55 billion in AUM with an attractive yield of 5.4%. The fund has a slightly higher expense ratio of 0.92%. Funds with higher expense ratios can eat into performance over time. However, anything below 1.0% is generally appropriate for most investors.
The fund has a low average weighted maturity of 2.58 years. The portfolio contains 255 holdings. The fund has 88.93% of its assets invested in international fixed income securities with the remaining amount held in cash. It has more than 48.98% in the Americas, 27% of its holdings in Asia, followed by 12.8% in Europe and Africa. The fund's top 10 holdings comprise 21.6% of the entire portfolio. The top three holdings are bonds issued by the Mexican government. The fund began trading in 1986.
PIMCO Global Bond Fund Unhedged (PIGLX)
Pimco Global Bond Fund Unhedged focuses on investing in high-quality developed countries around the world. The fund seeks to provide exposure to multiple economies, interest rates and yield curves. This can possibly offset the volatility of a portfolio of equities and may help to mitigate the risk of rising interest rates in the United States. As noted in the fund's name, it does not hedge the currency exposure inherent in international fixed-income investments.
Still, the fund has had some negative performance over the past few years. The fund had returns of -5.04% in 2013, and down -3.57% through the end of 2015. The trailing three-year Sharpe ratio is 0.16, indicating the fund has not had very good performance on a risk-adjusted basis. Investors should consider this performance before buying shares in the fund.
The fund has a yield of around 2.43%. The expense ratio is reasonable at 0.67%. The bonds in the fund have an effective duration of 4.40 years with an effective maturity of 6.25 years. Over 49% of the bonds in the fund have maturities of five to 7 years.
AB Global Bond Fund (ANAGX)
The AB Global Bond Fund invests in fixed-income securities from developed and emerging markets. The fund looks for opportunities in multiple sectors. The fund has 1,036 holdings and a yield of 2.96%. The fund has around $6.9 billion in total assets. The fixed-income securities have an effective duration of 6.64 years.
Over 24% of the holdings are in bonds from global governments, followed by investment-grade corporations at 19.5%. The fund holds fixed-income securities from the United States at 4.32%. This is followed by the United Kingdom at 2.21% and Japan at 1.93%. The fund may not have as much international exposure compared to other global bond funds.
Over 27% of the fund’s holdings are rated AAA, followed by a BBB rating at 23.9%. The fund has 3.98% of its holdings that are unrated. It has an expense ratio of 0.81%.
DFA 5-Year Global Fixed Income Fund (DFGBX)
The DFA 5-Year Global Fixed Income Fund seeks to provide a market rate of return with low volatility for returns. As the name of the fund indicates, it invests in both U.S. and foreign debt securities with maturities of five years or less. This shorter length of maturity means the fund has lower volatility. If bonds in a fund have a longer maturity, there is a greater interest rate risk. The fund has a very low standard deviation of 1.18 with a reasonable 3-year Sharpe ratio of 0.59.
The fund has $13.36 billion in net assets. The holdings have a low average maturity of 3.9 years with a duration of 3.27 years. It has a low expense ratio of 0.26%. The fund has provided returns of 2.21% since 2010. The fund has a current annual yield of around 2.27%.
Over 37% of the bond’s holdings have a credit rating of AAA. The remaining holdings have a credit rating of AA and A. Among the fund’s top 10 holdings are fixed-income securities from Caisse d'Amortissement de la Dette Sociale, European Stability Mechanism, and Nedelandse Waterschapsbank.