Fixed income exchange-traded funds (ETFs) saw a record $126 billion of inflows in 2017, bringing the overall market to nearly $600 billion. The majority of these flows, as well as existing assets under management, are in passive bond ETFs. But are passive, index-tracking approaches the best way to harness the fixed income opportunity set?

As we discussed in a recent paper, research presents compelling evidence that bonds are different from equities when it comes to the active-versus-passive debate. And breaking down the key components of the Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Index (BBAG) – the benchmark for many passive core bond ETFs – reveals several potential drawbacks in a passive investment approach. A well-designed active strategy like the one behind PIMCO’s Active Bond Exchange-Traded Fund (BOND) seeks to take advantage of some key opportunities not available with passive solutions that may lead to better outcomes for investors. PIMCO is a leader in active ETFs, with over $10 billion in active ETF assets under management and the largest actively managed fund, the PIMCO Enhanced Short Maturity Active ETF (MINT), launched in 2009.

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The Author

David L. Braun

Head of US Financial Institutions Portfolio Management

Daniel H. Hyman

Head of Agency MBS Portfolio Management

Jerome M. Schneider

Head of Short-Term Portfolio Management

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Disclosures

Investors should consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses of the funds carefully before investing. This and other information are contained in the Fund’s prospectus, which may be obtained by contacting your PIMCO representative. Please read the prospectus carefully before you invest.

A word about risk:
Investing in the bond market is subject to certain risks including the risk that fixed income securities will decline in value because of changes in interest rates; the risk that fund shares could trade at prices other than the net asset value; and the risk that the manager's investment decisions might not produce the desired results. Investments may be worth more or less than the original cost when redeemed. Investing in the bond market is subject to risks, including market, interest rate, issuer, credit, inflation risk, and liquidity risk. The value of most bonds and bond strategies are impacted by changes in interest rates. Bonds and bond strategies with longer durations tend to be more sensitive and volatile than those with shorter durations; bond prices generally fall as interest rates rise, and the current low interest rate environment increases this risk. Investing in foreign denominated and/or domiciled securities may involve heightened risk due to currency fluctuations, and economic and political risks, which may be enhanced in emerging markets. Mortgage and asset-backed securities may be sensitive to changes in interest rates, subject to early repayment risk, and their value may fluctuate in response to the market’s perception of issuer creditworthiness; while generally supported by some form of government or private guarantee there is no assurance that private guarantors will meet their obligations. High-yield, lower-rated, securities involve greater risk than higher-rated securities; portfolios that invest in them may be subject to greater levels of credit and liquidity risk than portfolios that do not. Derivatives may involve certain costs and risks, such as liquidity, interest rate, market, credit, management and the risk that a position could not be closed when most advantageous. Investing in derivatives could lose more than the amount invested. Diversification does not ensure against loss.

There is no guarantee that these investment strategies will work under all market conditions or are suitable for all investors and each investor should evaluate their ability to invest long-term, especially during periods of downturn in the market. Investors should consult their investment professional prior to making an investment decision.

Buying or selling ETF shares on an exchange may require the payment of brokerage commissions. Due to the costs inherent in buying or selling Fund shares, frequent trading may detract significantly from investment returns. Investment in Fund shares may not be advisable for investors who expect to engage in frequent trading.

Exchange Traded Funds (“ETF”) are afforded certain exemptions from the Investment Company Act. The exemptions allow, among other things, for individual shares to trade on the secondary market. Individual shares cannot be directly purchased from or redeemed by the ETF. Purchases and redemptions directly with ETFs are only accomplished through creation unit aggregations or “baskets” of shares. Shares of an ETF are bought and sold at market price (not NAV). Brokerage commissions will reduce returns. Investment policies, management fees and other information can be found in the individual ETF’s prospectus.

Current holdings are subject to risk. Holdings are subject to change at any time. An investment in an ETF involves risk, including the loss of principal. Investment return, price, yield and Net Asset Value (NAV) will fluctuate with changes in market conditions. Investments may be worth more or less than the original cost when redeemed.

ETF shares may be bought or sold throughout the day at their market price on the exchange on which they are listed. However, there can be no guarantee that an active trading market for PIMCO ETF shares will develop or be maintained, or that their listing will continue or remain unchanged.

Premiums (when market price is above NAV) or discounts (when market price is below NAV) reflect the differences (expressed as a percentage) between the NAV and the Market Price of the Fund on a given day, generally at the time the NAV is calculated. A discount or premium could be significant. Data in chart format displaying the frequency distribution of discounts and premiums of the Market Price against the NAV can be found for each Fund at www.pimcoetfs.com.

Barclays U.S. Aggregate Index represents securities that are SEC-registered, taxable, and dollar denominated. The index covers the U.S. investment grade fixed rate bond market, with index components for government and corporate securities, mortgage pass-through securities, and asset-backed securities. These major sectors are subdivided into more specific indices that are calculated and reported on a regular basis. It is not possible to invest directly in an unmanaged index.

This material contains the opinions of the manager and such opinions are subject to change without notice. This material has been distributed for informational purposes only and should not be considered as investment advice or a recommendation of any particular security, strategy or investment product. Information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but not guaranteed. No part of this material may be reproduced in any form, or referred to in any other publication, without express written permission. PIMCO is a trademark of Allianz Asset Management of America L.P. in the United States and throughout the world. ©2017, PIMCO.

PIMCO Investments LLC, distributor, 1633 Broadway, New York, NY, 10019 is a company of PIMCO.

The Role of Bonds in a New Era of Low Yields
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