Since the beginning of the pandemic, investors have consistently discussed the relationship between treasury yields and the performance of equities. Of course, every company is different, and there are some companies that benefit from higher Treasury yields while others outperform when rates decline.

The table below summarizes the S&P 500 members that perform best when the iShares 7-10 Year Treasury Bonds ETF (IEF) loses value. We measure this by calculating the correlation coefficient of individual stock prices against the price of IEF since the start of 2020. In other words, when rates increase (IEF price declines), these stocks experience positive price movement. M&T Bank (MTB), American Airlines (AAL), and Hewlett Packard (HPE) top this list, and all the names on this list have high correlation coefficients implying that they are closely tied to the performance of IEF on an inverse basis. Other notable names on this list include Ralph Lauren (RL), Citigroup (C), Fox Corp (FOX), and Tyson Foods (TSN). Of the 20 companies on this list, six come out of the Industrials sector and 5 are from the Financials sector. The average YTD performance of the names on this list through 11/15 was a gain of 31.1% (median: +25.2%).

To help you visualize exactly what we are looking at, take a look at the chart below. MTB is the stock most inversely correlated to IEF.  Since 2020, it has routinely moved in the opposite direction as IEF. When IEF moves up, MTB tends to decline, and vice-versa. If you believe that treasury yields will rise, MTB and the other names on the list are ones that have historically benefitted in that environment.

The next table shows the S&P 500 stocks that have benefitted during periods of falling yields, which would be represented by an upward move in the price of IEF. The stocks on this list are generally less correlated to the movements of IEF, so the correlation coefficients are less statistically significant. The average returns for the stocks on this list on a YTD basis is a decline of 1.9% (median: -2.1%) through 11/15. Clorox (CLX), Vertex (VRTX), and Incyte (INCY) have the highest correlation coefficients to IEF, and other notable names include Regeneron (REGN), MarketAxess (MKTX), and General Mills (GIS). 7 of the 20 companies on this list are from the Consumer Staples sector, 4 are in the Health Care sector, and 3 are in the Real Estate sector.

As you can see, the price movements between CLX and IEF have been quite similar since the start of 2020.  While prices of CLX and IEF have been well correlated since the start of 2020, we would note that outside of the first five stocks on the list, none of the other names listed have a correlation coefficient of more than 0.5 indicating that the relationships are not nearly as strong as the names on the first list above.  In terms of both lists, the correlation coefficients are simply telling us how each stock has traded with respect to IEF since the start of 2020, but whether those relationships hold up going forward is uncertain,  Click here to view Bespoke’s premium membership options.

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