Ben Kirby says his fund has stayed resilient this yr by doing what it is often done: remembering the “power of dividends.” While the S & P 500 slid right into a bear market this yr, down greater than 25%, the Thornburg Investment Income Builder (TIBIX) declined 18.5% over the identical time period, based on data from Morningstar. The co-head of investments and managing director at Thornburg said the fund, a worldwide multi-asset portfolio focused on income, managed to guard against the worst of the downside due to its defensive tilt. While investors dumped shares of unprofitable corporations this yr, Kirby noted that each holding in his portfolio turns a profit, has positive money flow, and pays a dividend. “People forget in regards to the power of dividends, they usually forget how vital it’s to get that current income,” Kirby said. “Now we have a portfolio yielding about 6% on an underlying basis. So should you’re collecting that income daily, which we do, that tends to be very helpful on your quarter total return, especially in a market where prices are falling.” The method has also helped TIBIX, which has roughly $9.3 billion in assets, outperform over the long-term. The fund is ranked within the second quartile of funds over 1- and 3-year time frames, based on Morningstar, but climbs to the highest quartile over 5- and 10-year periods. Raising fixed income Amongst the largest changes that Kirby is making to his portfolio in a yr marked with Federal Reserve rate of interest increases and growing recession concerns, is raising the fund’s fixed income allocation. Today, TIBIX has a roughly 16% allocation to fixed income, compared with “closer to 10%” over the past decade, based on the fund manager. TIBIX has averaged a 20% allocation to fixed income over the very long run, and allocated as much 45% through the height of the financial crisis. Kirby said he’s comfortable raising the allocation to twenty% or 25%, depending how markets move over the following several months. “We’re not targeting a number exactly, however the direction is higher. And , I can see us going back above our long run average of 20%,” Kirby said. The portfolio is broadly invested in corporate credit, while also finding some opportunity in securitized investments. “We’re trying to search out things which are additive to the yield of the portfolio. But at the identical time, should not thus far down the capital stack that there is any material likelihood of capital impairment within the case of a recession,” he said. Still, Kirby said he’s taking his time allocating more to fixed income as he finds many equities very attractive. “We’re seeing value on either side,” he said. Preparing for a recession The portfolio manager said he’s specializing in stock picks that will still be low-cost in a recession scenario, even when earnings estimates get cut by as much as 20%. “There are pockets of the market where it looks as if we’re further along in pricing the earnings slowdown and we expect that our portfolio has loads of value,” he added. Among the many stocks within the portfolio that Kirby is most bullish on is French telecommunications stock Orange, which has an almost 7% dividend yield and a single-digit P/E ratio. The manager expects the stock, which is trading at a low multiple, can only get the next price-to-earnings ratio over time. He also noted that a stronger dollar helped the fund snap up the stock at a reduction. It’s “an interesting thing to take into consideration by way of diversifying outside the U.S.,” he said. Kirby also expects that energy corporations will proceed to achieve, helped by rising oil prices, in addition to several years of underinvestment. The fund’s single-largest position is in TotalEnergies, one other French company. Going forward, Kirby expects that investors searching for defensive corporations may have to search out ones that are not overvalued after their run-up this yr. The investor said he still favors health care, equivalent to pharmaceutical stocks Merck, Pfizer and Roche, but believes consumer staples, utilities and beverage stocks are overvalued. A deal with businesses with a competitive moat, strong money generation and sustainable margins will help protect portfolios, he argues. “In a yr where risk aversion has been high, people have preferred to rotate into those more defensive, resilient businesses, which is what this portfolio is built on,” he said.