CAM Investment Grade Weekly Insights

CAM Investment Grade Weekly Insights

Fund Flows & Issuance: According to Lipper, for the week ended May 17, investment grade funds posted a net inflow of $3.101bn. Per Lipper data, the year-to-date net inflow into investment grade funds was $54.889bn. Per Bloomberg, with one deal pending on Friday morning, investment grade corporate issuance through Thursday of this week was $25.3bn. Qualcomm is pending and could print up to $10-12bn on Friday, which would up this total substantially. Through Thursday, YTD total corporate bond issuance now trails 2016 at $573.87bn, which is down 4% year over year.

(Bloomberg) PG&E Issuer Credit Ratings Raised to A- From BBB+ by S&P

  • The higher ratings are based on reduced business risk stemming from the company’s long-term efforts to regain the confidence of its regulators and manage the financial fallout the 2010 San Bruno gas transmission explosion, S&P says.
    • CPUC approved multi-year rate increases: S&P
    • Outlook stable

(Bloomberg Intelligence) Vulcan’s Growth Is Tied to U.S. Highway Bill and M&A

  • Vulcan Materials is sensitive to variations in the U.S. economic cycle, with a strategy to extend its domestic reach across key states. The U.S. highway bill is a key driver for the construction aggregates company, given its road-building focus. President Donald Trump’s proposal for infrastructure investments of about $1 trillion adds to Vulcan’s sharp rise in demand since the end of 2013, resulting from growth in residential and commercial construction. Vulcan can probably increase acquisitions in 2017-18.
  • The company may be able to target not only small caps, but eventually bigger fish, management said on its 1Q earnings call. Since the last financial crisis, Vulcan has acquired about 20 small and medium companies in the U.S.
  • In 2017, Vulcan Materials’ margins may expand further on growing demand for aggregates accompanied by a forecast 5-7% increase in selling prices. The focus on discipline over efficiency in operating areas to maximize per-hour productivity has contributed to continued margin improvement. Its Ebitda margin has widened in the past two years as the U.S. economy recovered. In 2016, the overall business delivered adjusted Ebitda margin of 26.8%. This represents an improvement of 275 bps over the prior year.

(NYT) With Amazon In Cross Hairs, Walmart Posts Gains Online

  • Walmart has always excelled at selling products in its cavernous stores. It appears to be getting its head around selling online, too.
  • On Thursday, the company said e-commerce sales had grown 63 percent in the United States in the latest quarter. The unexpected leap offered the strongest evidence yet that Walmart, the country’s largest retailer, is making headway in its effort to be as prominent online as it is across the American landscape.
  • “This is extraordinary growth, and we’re pleased with the traction we’re generating across our e-commerce offerings,” said Brett Biggs, Walmart’s executive vice president and chief financial officer.
  • Walmart completed its purchase of Jet in September. Smaller digital acquisitions followed, including ModCloth, a women’s clothing retailer, and the outdoor apparel site Moosejaw.
  • The deal for Jet was also widely seen as a play for its founder, Marc Lore, a serial digital entrepreneur who could help fix Walmart’s online strategy. Mr. Lore was put in charge of running after the acquisition, spearheading the face-off between the world’s largest brick-and-mortar retailer and its biggest online competitor.
  • There is no doubt, though, that the company still has a ways to go before coming close to Amazon in e-commerce. Activity on Amazon, which recorded about $136 billion in annual sales last year, accounts for more than half of all online shopping in the United States.
  • Walmart provides a growth figure only for its online business, and does not specify revenue.

(TheStreet) As Apple Battles Qualcomm, Don’t Overlook its Patent Dispute With Nokia

  • Apple’s royalty dispute with Qualcomm has been a distraction from the 10th anniversary edition of the iPhone due out later this year.
  • Qualcomm ratcheted up the litigation this week when it filed suit against Apple contract manufacturers Foxconn, Pegatron, Wistron, and Compal, for skipping royalty payments. The chipmaker said in April that Apple is withholding payments to its contract manufacturers to cover the royalties they owe Qualcomm. Moreover, Qualcomm alleges that Apple ordered the companies to withhold the funds, and has indemnified them.
  • Messy as the fight with Qualcomm has become, Wells Fargo analyst Maynard Um suggests that Apple’s dispute with Nokia is a bigger near-term concern. Nokia filed suit in two German venues, a U.S. District Court in Texas and other venues in December, alleging patent violations.
  • “While most of the focus has been on [Qualcomm] given the recent headlines, we believe the Nokia litigation is more important with the potential for initial news flow as early as the end of calendar 2017,” Um wrote.
  • Nokia has filed complaints in Munich and Mannheim, Germany that could have rulings this year this year. Other disputes, such as a complaint in the Netherlands, could reach outcomes soon after.
  • Um estimates that Nokia previously received just 0.2% of the price of the device in which Apple uses its technology. Nokia is unlikely to score the 2.7% rate that Qualcomm receives, Um suggested. If Nokia could obtain a 1.5% rate, it could reduce Apple’s earnings per share by 20 cents.