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No. of Recommendations: 1
Mark,

"Deep value" bond investing --aka, "vulture investing", which Marty Whitman was good at-- is a whole 'nother gig that takes better credit analysis skills than most FI investors can bring to bear, as well as much, much, much more capital. (You've gotta be a big enough player to "sit at the table".)

But what the small bond investor can do --and can do well-- is take positions in the double BBs, which is also the mainstay of the typical junk bond fund. When you get down to the triple CCCs (and lower), you're buying what almost amounts to lottery tickets *unless* you really know what you're doing *and* you're running a very disciplined campaign in which you're treating the bonds as OTM puts and buying baskets of them --at favorable prices-- such that you can count on achieving the statistical edge that game offers.

As for when to buy the common, or the debt (or both) --or when to go long the debt and short the common-- those, too, are interesting games. So, it all depends on each investor's needs, interests, skills, abilities, and goals. In short, there is no one right way to do any of this bond stuff. But most investors find bonds "boring" and avoid them altogether, for the very good reasons that spreads are atrocious, commissions abusive, and historical data is tough to find, etc, etc. It's an institutionally-dominated market that takes persistence to break into and a lot of capital to pursue if bonds are to be one's principal (or sole) focus.

But to each, his own, right? Or as the Chinese proverb goes,"Never try to convince someone that something is impossible who is already doing it". I bought my first stock when I was ten. But I didn't start making serious money until I stumbled my way into the bond market some twenty years ago. It's been a good ride, and will be again once markets blow up again. Right now, pickings are slim. But it's the game I prefer.

Arindam
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