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Bullish on junk bonds

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If you believe the investment adage about buying the worst performing asset from the last calendar year, then high yield bonds just might fit the bill, with a bruising average return of negative 5.6 percent last year.

Gershon Distenfeld, AB director of high yield, told CNBC's "Power Lunch" Thursday that the high yield market is poised to outperform U.S. equities this year.

"Look, people get scared going into junk, but we think the valuations are now attractive and spreads are around 700 bps from around 337 bps only two years ago, said Distenfield. . "And narrowing spreads usually leads to capital appreciation and equity-like returns for high yield."

"High yield historically bounces back after a bear market, and we are ending one of the longest bear markets ever," said Distenfeld. "After a market bottom, high yield tends to reclaim prior highs in less than a year, and sometimes in as little as two months."

Distenfeld oversees the AB High Income Fund, which is among the largest U.S. junk bond funds with total assets of six billion dollars. The fund holds a three star ranking from Morningstar and has a five year total return of 4.55 percent.