Month: January 2019

18 Jan 2019

CAM High Yield Weekly Insights

Fund Flows & Issuance:  According to a Wells Fargo report, flows week to date were $2.5 billion and year to date flows stand at $3.5 billion.  New issuance for the week was $1.8 billion and year to date HY is at $1.8 billion, which is -81% over the same period last year.

(Bloomberg)  High Yield Market Highlights

  • Buyers jumped on rare new U.S. junk-bond issues, driving significant oversubscription as funds saw their biggest net inflow since December 2016.
  • Issuance-starved investors made a beeline to HCA’s drive-by offering yesterday
  • The $1.5b deal saw orders of more than $5b, was upsized from $1b
  • Deal priced at lower end of talk
  • Junk bond yields fell to new 2-mo. low, spreads tightened across risk spectrum
  • Junk bonds top investment grade and loans, with YTD returns of 3.52% vs 0.499% and 2.467% for IG and loans, respectively
  • CCCs are best-performing in fixed income, with gain of 4.66% YTD
  • There appeared to be no immediate catalyst to derail junk bonds, with the economy on a steady path, no signs of an imminent recession, rate hikes on hold in the short term
  • Several forecasters have raised their return projections for 2019
  • Risk- aversion could take hold and bonds could plunge should U.S.- China trade tensions escalate

(Bloomberg)  High-Yield Bond Sales Freeze Is Thawed by Red-Hot Energy Sector

  • Finally the junk bond new issue market has reopened, following the biggest secondary price rally in a decade. The energy sector is leading the way, just as it’s done in the secondary.
  • Targa Resources is the first company to sell U.S. junk bonds in six weeks. The midstream energy services provider’s sold $750 million in bonds due 2027.
  • The deal is rated Ba3/BB and may be used to buy back existing debt, so it’s far from the riskiest type of sale for this market. But it should open the door for more issuers, particularly given the secondary market rally and strong reception being seen for investment-grade bonds.
  • Some issuers may be waiting for even better pricing, especially if they want to refinance. But according to UBS, which cites S&P, there’s $8.5 billion of new issues in the junk
    bond pipeline.

(Reuters)  CEO exits as PG&E faces fire liabilities, bankruptcy preparations

  • Chief Executive Geisha Williams stepped down as pressure from potentially crushing liabilities linked to catastrophic wildfires have pushed the California utility owner to the financial brink and prompted it to make bankruptcy preparations.
  • Williams, who took the helm of the provider of electricity and natural gas to millions of customers in March 2017, will be replaced by General Counsel John Simon on an interim basis, the company said. She also resigned from the boards of both PG&E and its utility subsidiary, Pacific Gas and Electric Co.
  • “While we are making progress as a company in safety and other areas, the Board recognizes the tremendous challenges PG&E continues to face. We believe John is the right interim leader for the company,” PG&E Chairman Richard Kelly said in a statement. “Our search is focused on extensive operational and safety expertise, and the board is committed to further change at PG&E.”
  • The company faces widespread litigation, government investigations and liabilities that could potentially reach $30 billion, according to analyst estimates.
  • The management shake-up comes as PG&E is in discussions with banks for a multibillion-dollar bankruptcy financing package to aid operations during bankruptcy proceedings.

(Bloomberg)  Junk Bond Forecasts Are Quickly Going From Good to Great

  • Junk bonds limped into 2019 nursing wounds from a December rout that was the worst month for the market since 2011. After a robust rally to start the year, strategists are significantly upgrading their annual forecasts.
  • Most bullish on the asset class is Wells Fargo, which boosted its high-yield total return forecast to 9.9 percent, from a 6-7 percent call made last year. An attractive starting yield, fundamental backdrop and slight uptick in issuance are all positive drivers, the bank said in a Jan. 4 report.
  • Barclays beefed up its high-yield bond total return call to 6.5-7.5 percent from a 3.5-4.5 percent projection made at the end of November. This compares to a 2.1 percent loss in 2018, the worst for the sector since 2015.
  • JPMorgan raised its U.S. high-yield bond return forecast to 8 percent, from 3.3 percent at the end of November. It cited a meager chance of a recession, low rates and attractive valuations as reasons to buy.
  • Even Morgan Stanley — historically one of the most bearish credit prognosticators — expects a better year for junk. In a Jan. 11 report, it lifted its high-yield total return forecast for 2019 to 4.5 percent from 0.5 percent.

(CAM Note)  MOODY’S UPGRADES HCA INC.’S SR SECURED DEBT TO Baa3

  • HCA’s senior secured debt is now rated investment grade at two of the three rating agencies

(Wall Street Journal)  Apollo Nears Deal to Buy Arconic for More Than $10 Billion

  • Private-equity firm Apollo Global Management is nearing a deal to buy Arconic Inc. for more than $10 billion, ending months of negotiation over what would be one of the largest leveraged buyouts in recent years.
  • The Wall Street Journal first reported in July that Apollo and others were interested in an acquisition of Arconic, an aerospace-parts maker that was Alcoa before the aluminum company was split up in 2016.
  • As usual in complicated merger talks, the timing could slip and a deal isn’t guaranteed. Should one be completed, it would end a months long sales process for Arconic. Apollo, before emerging as the front-runner, competed in an auction with other buyout firms including a team of Blackstone Group LP and Carlyle Group LP.
  • In addition to providing relief to its shareholders, a deal for Arconic, to be funded with a huge helping of high-yield debt, would be another sign of a thaw in the credit markets. Just a few weeks ago, it looked like turmoil in global markets might threaten Apollo’s bid, but a recovery in recent days has aided the deal’s prospects.
11 Jan 2019

CAM High Yield Weekly Insights

Fund Flows & Issuance:  According to a Wells Fargo report, flows week to date were $2.0 billion and year to date flows stand at $1.0 billion.  New issuance for the week was zero, and high yield has not seen a new issue in over 5 weeks now. 

(Bloomberg)  High Yield Market Highlights

  • U.S. junk bonds traded slightly higher yesterday, adding to recent strong gains as investors piled back into the asset class and issuance restarted. The index is up 3.06 percent this year, the best return in fixed income.
  • U.S. corporate high-yield funds swung back to inflows
  • Junk bond index yield dropped to 7.23%, lowest since Dec. 4
  • Index return was 0.04% yesterday, extending rising streak to 10 days
  • Energy sector and triple C debt outperformed
  • CCC yield dropped to 11.38% vs. 12.77% on Dec. 26
  • This was the tenth day of decline, marking the longest falling streak since December 2016, Bloomberg data show
  • CCCs YTD return is 4.38%
  • High- yield U.S. bonds are unlikely to move much higher, following the best start to a year since 2009, UBS strategists said in a note

(Reuters)  PG&E falls further after S&P cuts credit rating to junk

  • PG&E Corp’s shares fell 14 percent on Tuesday, after S&P Global stripped the California power company of its investment-grade credit rating in the face of massive claims stemming from deadly wildfires.
  • S&P cut the rating on PG&E and its Pacific Power & Gas Co unit on Monday to “B” from “BBB-,” the lowest tier of so-called investment-grade ratings, citing political and regulatory pressure and uncertainty over its potential liabilities.
  • The utility, whose roughly $18 billion in bonds fell on Monday due to bankruptcy fears, has come under severe pressure since a fatal Camp fire in November compounded its woes. It currently faces billions of dollars in liabilities related to wildfires in 2017 and 2018.
  • S&P Global said it could further cut the company’s rating over the next few months if explicit steps are not taken by authorities to improve the regulatory situation, signaling that the agency may be losing faith that lawmakers could rescue PG&E.

(Fierce Wireless)  T-Mobile/Sprint merger review suspended

  • The federal government funding lapse has claimed another victim, at least temporarily. The FCC has paused its review of the $26 billion proposed merger between T-Mobile and Sprint for the second time in four months.
  • The 180-day review period for mergers and other transactions that require FCC approval, otherwise known as a shot clock, was suspended earlier this week (PDF) when the agency shut down most operations due to the ongoing impasse over federal government funding. The partial government shutdown has effectively put the timeline for a final decision on hold until Congress and the president come to an agreement on a federal government spending bill.

(Bloomberg)  T-Mobile Outpaces Even Verizon’s Strong Growth in Customer Adds

  • T-Mobile US Inc.’s fourth-quarter wireless customer gains surpassed analyst estimates and topped strong growth at larger rival Verizon Communications Inc., continuing the company’s run as the fastest-growing U.S. mobile carrier.
  • The phone provider said it added 1.4 million regular monthly wireless customers, according to preliminary results. Analysts expected 985,000 new subscribers, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The new additions included 1 million phone customers,
    more than the 650,000 Verizon added in the quarter.
  • T-Mobile’s outperformance of even Verizon’s surprisingly strong numbers is a signal that it’s continuing to take the most market share among U.S. carriers.
  • The results suggest it’ll be tough for AT&T Inc. and T-Mobile’s planned merger partner Sprint Corp. to hit their current estimates for subscriber growth, in a mature wireless
    market that has seen little new-customer growth overall.

(Bloomberg)  U.S. Says China Willing to Buy More American as Trade Talks End

  • The Trump administration wrapped up the latest round of trade talks in Beijing, noting a commitment by China to buy more U.S. agricultural goods, energy and manufactured items.
  • China and the U.S. concluded three days of talks on Wednesday with a cautious sense of optimism that the world’s two biggest economies might be able to reach a deal that ends their bruising trade war.
  • In a statement, the office of U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said the two sides considered ways to “achieve fairness, reciprocity, and balance in trade relations.” Officials discussed the need for any deal to include “ongoing verification and effective enforcement,” USTR said. The U.S. will decide on the next steps after officials report back to Washington.