Bearish Like Buffett? Some Bonds May Still Be King

Warren Buffett
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Warren Buffett

Several renowned investors may have made the case to be more bearish on bonds recently, but one analyst has told CNBC that investors should not shun bonds because they still offer a good insurance policy.

Warren Buffett, the U.S.'s second richest man, told CNBC Monday that bonds are a "terrible" investment right now because they are "priced artificially" high due to the Federal Reserve's massive asset buying program. Buffett also warned that it's "crazy" to get enticed into a risky investment because someone promises you a higher yield.

(Read More: Buffett: Right Now, Stocks Are Good, Bonds Are Bad)

But Padhraic Garvey, head of developed market rates at ING Wholesale Banking told CNBC that the type of bonds that Warren Buffet is speaking of should still be part of a balanced portfolio to protect against a Japan-style deflation scenario.

"[Buffet] is talking about the long term because if you had bonds so far this year, you've had a return of 0.6 percent which is not bad," Garvey said, but conceded that the exceptionally low yield does make them look unattractive. A rise in yield in the longer term would mean a lower bond price, thus leading to a negative total return for investors.

(Read More: Gartman: Bear Market in Bonds Has Begun)

Treasurys slid after Friday's better-than-expected U.S. job growth data, but the 10-year Treasury yield, at 1.76 percent, is near flat year-to-date and at less than half of its near 4 percent post-crisis peak in April 2010.

"If bonds do hit rock bottom in terms of yield well there isn't much return left there and you're in trouble if yields do spike considerably, but so far so good in terms of total return for bonds," Garvey said.

(Read More: Stocks Versus Bonds: Why Not Bet on Both?)

While Buffett warned against risky investments, with higher yields, a description that could fit junk-rated government bonds in Europe, Garvey said there were some opportunities in this space for investors.

According to Garvey, investors should buy Portugal's brand new 10-year bond, despite the country being effectively classed as junk status by all three main credit ratings agencies.

"It's a real bold statement on the part of Portugal to say that we're back, we can supply the are getting a good risk-adjusted return in Portugal. So, I think you buy Portugal." he said.

Bearish moves on European peripheral debt have brought nothing but pain for investors since the start of the year, with Italian and Spanish spreads tightening despite political uncertainty and the Cypriot bailout. Opting to purchase debt in the euro zone's periphery and not the core has returned between 6 and 8 percent year-to-date, according to Garvey.

By's Matt Clinch; Follow him on Twitter @ mattclinch81