Author: CAM Team

24 Jan 2024

2023 Q4 High Yield Quarterly

In the fourth quarter of 2023, the Bloomberg US Corporate High Yield Index (“Index”) return was 7.16% bringing the year to date (“YTD”) return to 13.44%.  The S&P 500 index return was 11.68% (including dividends reinvested) bringing the YTD return to 26.26%.  Over the period, while the 10 year Treasury yield decreased 69 basis points, the Index option adjusted spread (“OAS”) tightened 71 basis points moving from 394 basis points to 323 basis points.

All ratings segments of the High Yield Market participated in the spread tightening as BB rated securities tightened 63 basis points, B rated securities tightened 89 basis points, and CCC rated securities tightened 72 basis points.  The chart below from Bloomberg displays the spread moves in the Index over the past five years.  For reference, the average level over that time period was 413 basis points.

The sector and industry returns in this paragraph are all Index return numbers.  The Index is mapped in a manner where the “sector” is broader with the more specific “industry” beneath it.  For example, Energy is a “sector” and the “industries” within the Energy sector include independent energy, integrated energy, midstream, oil field services, and refining.  The Brokerage, Banking, and Finance sectors were the best performers during the quarter, posting returns of 11.80%, 9.37%, and 8.40%, respectively.  On the other hand, Transportation, Energy, and Other Industrial were the worst performing sectors, posting returns of 4.25%, 5.24%, and 6.53%, respectively.  At the industry level, retailers, media, and building materials all posted the best returns.  The retailers industry posted the highest return of 10.03%.  The lowest performing industries during the quarter were oil field services, airlines, and independent energy.  The oil field services industry posted the lowest return of 3.10%.

While there was a dearth of issuance during 2022 as interest rates rapidly increased and capital structures were previously refinanced, the primary market perked up a bit during each quarter this year.  Issuance has remained low by historical standards as so much was pushed out by the large issuance during 2020 and 2021.  For 2024, strategists are looking for issuance in the range of $200-$230 billion.  Of the issuance that did take place during Q4, Finance took 29% of the market share followed by Energy at 28% share and Industrials at 13% share.

The Federal Reserve did hold the Target Rate steady at the November and December meetings.  There was no meeting held in October.  This made three consecutive meetings without a hike.  The last hike was back in July.  For the first time since March of 2021, the Fed is not projecting additional hikes.  In fact, the Fed dot plot shows that Fed officials are forecasting 75 basis points in cuts during 2024.  It sure seems like the worm has finally turned and the market is responding positively.  During the December post meeting press conference, Chair Powell did pay lip service to the ability to hike again if needed, but the focus moved to rate cuts.  With regard to when it will become appropriate to cut rates, Powell said “That begins to come into view and is clearly a topic of discussion out in the world and also a discussion for us at our meeting today.”i  The Fed’s main objective has been lowering inflation and it continues to trend in the desired direction.  The most recent report for Core CPI showed a year over year growth rate of 4.0% down from a peak of 6.6% over one year ago.  Further, the most recent Core PCE growth rate measured 3.2% off the peak of 5.6% from February of 2022.

Intermediate Treasuries decreased 69 basis points over the quarter, as the 10-year Treasury yield was at 4.57% on September 30th, and 3.88% at the end of the fourth quarter.  The 5-year Treasury decreased 76 basis points over the quarter, moving from 4.61% on September 30th, to 3.85% at the end of the fourth quarter.  Intermediate term yields more often reflect GDP and expectations for future economic growth and inflation rather than actions taken by the FOMC to adjust the target rate.  The revised third quarter GDP print was 4.9% (quarter over quarter annualized rate).  Looking forward, the current consensus view of economists suggests a GDP for 2024 around 1.3% with inflation expectations around 2.6%.ii

Being a more conservative asset manager, Cincinnati Asset Management does not buy CCC and lower rated securities.  Additionally, our interest rate agnostic philosophy keeps us generally positioned in the five to ten year maturity timeframe.  During Q4, Index performance was very strong leading to our cash position being a drag on performance.  Additional performance drag was due to our credit selections within banking and brokerage as we positioned in high quality credits in those sectors.  Benefiting our performance this quarter were our credit selections in capital goods, technology, and electric utilities.

The Bloomberg US Corporate High Yield Index ended the fourth quarter with a yield of 7.59%.  Treasury volatility, as measured by the Merrill Lynch Option Volatility Estimate (“MOVE” Index), has picked up quite a bit the past couple of years.  The MOVE averaged 121 during 2023 relative to a 62 average over 2021.  However, the current rate of 114 is well below the spike near 200 back in March during the banking scare.  Data available through November shows 39 defaults during 2023 which is up from 16 defaults during all of 2022.  The trailing twelve month dollar-weighted default rate is 2.46%.iii  The current default rate is relative to the 1.14%, 1.30%, 1.74%, 1.93% default rates from the previous four quarter end data points listed oldest to most recent.  While defaults are ticking up, the fundamentals of high yield companies still look good.  From a technical view, fund flows were positive in the quarter at $6.7 billion and total -$22.6 billion YTD.iv  No doubt there are risks, but we are of the belief that for clients that have an investment horizon over a complete market cycle, high yield deserves to be considered as part of the portfolio allocation.

What a difference several months can make.  Not too long ago 10 year rates were at 15 year highs topping out close to 5%.  Today the 10 year rate is just under 4%.  Crude oil was over $90 per barrel and now it is a touch over $70 per barrel.  As we move forward in 2024, the labor market is holding up but cooling as job seekers are beginning to struggle to find work.  Consumer delinquencies have been ticking up across most loan categories while savings have dwindled and the savings rate remains below average.v  No doubt that this softness is being taken into account by market participants.  That is the reason for the lower GDP projections and the Fed talking potential cuts at this point in time.  Our exercise of discipline and credit selectivity is important as we continue to evaluate that the given compensation for the perceived level of risk remains appropriate.  As always, we will continue our search for value and adjust positions as we uncover compelling situations.  Finally, we are very grateful for the trust placed in our team to manage your capital.

This information is intended solely to report on investment strategies identified by Cincinnati Asset Management. Opinions and estimates offered constitute our judgment and are subject to change without notice, as are statements of financial market trends, which are based on current market conditions. This material is not intended as an offer or solicitation to buy, hold or sell any financial instrument.  Fixed income securities may be sensitive to prevailing interest rates.  When rates rise the value generally declines.  Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.  Gross of advisory fee performance does not reflect the deduction of investment advisory fees.  Our advisory fees are disclosed in Form ADV Part 2A.  Accounts managed through brokerage firm programs usually will include additional fees.  Returns are calculated monthly in U.S. dollars and include reinvestment of dividends and interest. The index is unmanaged and does not take into account fees, expenses, and transaction costs.  It is shown for comparative purposes and is based on information generally available to the public from sources believed to be reliable.  No representation is made to its accuracy or completeness.  Additional disclosures on the material risks and potential benefits of investing in corporate bonds are available on our website: https://www.cambonds.com/disclosure-statements/.

i Bloomberg December 13, 2023:  Fed Pivots to Rate Cuts

ii Bloomberg January 2, 2024: Economic Forecasts (ECFC)

iii Moody’s December 14, 2023:  November 2023 Default Report and data file

iv CreditSights December 21, 2023:  “Credit Flows”

v Moody’s December 2023:  State of the US Consumer

24 Jan 2024

2023 Q4 Investment Grade Quarterly

Click here to read the Spanish version / Haga clic aquí para leer la versión en español

Investment grade credit bounced back in 2023.  The year was a powerful demonstration of spread compression and the benefit of the carry associated with higher interest rates.  For the full year 2023, the option adjust spread (OAS) on the Bloomberg US Corporate Bond Index tightened by 31 basis points to 99 after it opened the year at 130.  Interest rates were volatile during 2023 but Treasury yields at the end of the period finished very close to where they started.  The 10yr Treasury ended 2023 at 3.88% which is exactly where it closed in 2022.  The 2yr and 5yr Treasuries finished 2023 18 and 15 basis points lower from where they started, respectively.

2023 Year in Review

It was a solid year of positive performance for investment grade credit, but there were some bumps along the way.  The Corporate Index was in positive territory for all but 2 trading days during the first nine months of 2023 until higher interest rates took a bite out of returns in the first three weeks of October.  On October 19, the year-to-date total return for the index was at its low for the year, down to -2.53%, which also happens to be the day that the 10 year Treasury closed at 4.99%, its highest level of the current cycle and its highest yield since July of 2007.

From that point in October it was a one-two punch of tighter spreads and lower interest rates which led to higher returns through year end.  The OAS on the index moved from 129 on October 19 to 99 at year end while the 10 year Treasury moved lower from 4.99% to 3.88% over the same time period.  As a result of spread compression and lower interest rates, the Corporate Index posted a +11.33% total return from October 19 through the end of 2023.  What was the catalyst for such a dramatic turnaround in performance in such a short period of time?  We think there are several reasons that investors turned positive on IG credit: cooling inflation, a resilient job market and strong economic growth to name a few.  However, the biggest driver of higher returns, in our view, was the likelihood that the Federal Reserve had reached the end of its current hiking cycle.  The Fed elected to pause at its September, November and December meetings and its messaging at its most recent meeting suggested that it would not hike again.  We have argued throughout the hiking cycle that corporate credit could perform well when it became increasingly clear that the Fed was done raising its policy rate, but the depth and velocity of the 4th quarter rally exceeded our expectations.

As far as spread performance was concerned, 2023 saw tighter spreads across the board.  More than half (4.55%) of the index total return for 2023 (8.52%) was attributable to tighter credit spreads.  Lower quality IG-rated credit led the way, especially as credit spreads compressed in the final two months of the year.  The best performing industries in 2023 were Media & Entertainment and Oil Field Services.  While performance for the laggards was positive, Construction Machinery and Consumer Products were the two largest underperforming industries relative to the Corporate Index.  There were no industries within the investment grade universe that came anywhere close to posting a negative annual total return.

2024 Outlook

We have a positive stance on the investment grade credit market for the year ahead.  The yield of the asset class continues to trade at much higher levels relative to recent history.  The average yield on the Index over the past 10 years was 3.45% and it finished 2023 at 5.06%.  It is not as attractive today as it was during the October rate selloff when the index closed with a yield above 6.4% but the compensation afforded is still meaningfully higher than in the recent past.

Our positive view of the market as described above refers to the “all-in” compensation for IG which is comprised of the underlying Treasury as well as additional compensation that an investor receives for owning a bond in the form of credit spread.  Speaking specifically to the valuation of credit spreads, we are not as positive on spreads as we are on yields given current trading levels and we feel that spreads finished the year near the tighter end of fair value.  Looking at the past 20 years of data, the average spread on the index was 149, although this time period includes the GFC when the spread on the index blew out to >600.  The low was 75 in March of 2005 and the low for the current credit cycle was 80 in 2021.  The spread on the index closed the year at 99 and it is certainly capable of trading sideways at this level for a long period of time and it can even grind tighter from here.  But we want to be realistic with our investors about the upside potential in credit spreads.  We believe that credit spreads are pricing in a relatively high likelihood of a soft landing and any data to the contrary (read: recession) will lead to wider spreads.  The good news is that when you are starting with a >5% yield, there is a comfortable margin of safety available for spread widening while still generating positive total returns.  We would also point out that most recessions are accompanied by a move lower in Treasury yields which could serve to offset wider credit spreads.

We have a favorable view of the general health of the credit market and we believe that strong credit metrics are compelling from the standpoint of risk reward.  Although peak credit metrics of the current cycle occurred at the end of 2021, the creditworthiness of the IG credit market as a whole is stable and even showing improvement by some measures.i  According to research compiled by Barclays, at the end of the third quarter 2023, net leverage for the index was 2.8x, EBITDA margins were 29.6% and interest coverage was 12.7x.1  While leverage and interest coverage were not quite as good as they have been in recent years, they were both at very reasonable levels, showing recent improvement while EBITDA margins have been remarkably stable and were only 0.4% from all-time highs.  With few exceptions, investment grade rated companies are in very good shape.

Portfolio Positioning

We focus on the management of credit risk through a bottom up research process; so although we have a macro-view, we spend most of our time thinking about how that broader view may impact individual holdings within client portfolios.  As a reminder, we structure each separately managed account in the following manner.

  • Diversification: Each individual client or institutional portfolio is initially populated with approximately 20-25 positions. We diversify portfolios by seeking to limit each account to a 20% exposure at the sector level and 15% at the individual industry level, with the exception of the Financial Institutions (Finance) sector.  For Finance we limit each account to a 30% exposure because it represents a large portion of the IG index with a 32.97% index weighting at the end of 2023.
  • Credit Quality: One of the biggest differentiators between CAM’s portfolio and the Index is our bias toward higher quality credit in that we look to cap each client account at a 30% exposure to BAA-rated bonds. The Index had a 47.14% weighting in BAA-rated credit at the end of 2023 and this figure for the Index has been >50% several times in recent years –this leaves CAM’s portfolio with meaningfully less exposure to lower rated credit relative to the Index.
  • Maturity: We will always seek to position the portfolio within an intermediate maturity band that ranges from 5-10 years. Occasionally you will find that we will hold some shorter maturities that mature in less than 5 years. This is especially true during the current environment where certain portions of the Treasury curve are inverted –we want to be patient and allow more time for our sale and extension trades to become economic.  We will also occasionally purchase a bond that matures in >10 years but this is not typical and any such purchase will not be materially longer than 10 years. During the invest-up phase we will typically populate new portfolios with maturities that range in tenor from 8-10 years.  As an account becomes seasoned we will look to sell bonds at ~5 years left to maturity and then we will redeploy those sale proceeds back into ~10 year maturities.  As a result of our intermediate positioning, at year end 2023 our composite had a modified duration of 5.4 relative to the Index duration of 7.3.

The mission of our Investment Grade Strategy is to provide our clients with superior risk adjusted returns.  Our goal is to minimize volatility by incurring less credit risk and less interest rate risk than the Index.

Fed Watching

In his prepared remarks following the December FOMC meeting, Chair Powell said that “…our policy rate is likely at or near its peak for this tightening cycle.”ii  While he did not specifically rule out additional rate increases it has become increasingly clear that the Fed is unlikely to hike again.  Now all attention has turned to the Fed rate-cut narrative which is sure to dominate the business news cycle in 2024.  The most recent version of the Fed “dot plot” that was released at its December meeting showed that central bankers expect 0.75% of rate cuts in 2024.  One way to look at this is if the Fed moves in 25bps increments then it is expecting to cut rates three times during the year.  It is worth noting that the dot plot is simply the best estimate at a given point in time and it does not necessarily mean that the consensus estimate will come to fruition.  For example, the dot plot that was released at the September 2023 meeting showed that there would be one additional 25bp rate increase in 2023 but that did not occur.

The Fed made a splash at its December meeting with its dovish commentary.  One measure we track to gauge market perception is The Goldman Sachs Financial Conditions Index which is a weighted average of short and long-term interest rates, the value of the $USD, credit spreads and the ratio of equity prices to the 10-year average of EPS.

As you can see from the above chart, conditions were tightening rapidly in September and October before they just as quickly started to ease beginning with the November 1 FOMC meeting and then again at the December 13 meeting (denoted by the vertical line on the chart).  We do not think it was necessarily a policy mistake but believe that the December press conference was a missed opportunity for Chairman Powell to push back against easing financial conditions, which ended 2023 near the most comfortable levels of the year.  The U.S. economy added 4.8mm jobs in 2022 and another 2.7mm jobs in 2023.iii  We believe that the bar for near term rate cuts is quite high unless the economy experiences a proportional slowing of job growth in 2024.

This brings us to our final thought with regard to Fed policy.  The target range for Fed Funds was 5.25%-5.5% at year end and the Effective Fed Funds rate per data compiled by the New York Fed was 5.33% at the end of 2023.  A 75bp move on an effective rate of 5.33% is a percentage decrease of 14%.  We question whether the prospect of a move of just 14% is really enough to sustain the exuberance that risk assets experienced in the final two months of 2023.  We think that, regardless of what it says, this Fed is determined to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past and that it must have the utmost confidence that inflation will settle at its 2% target before it starts to really move the needle with rate cuts.  The best way for the Fed to accomplish this is to keep its policy rate “higher for longer.”  An extended period of elevated rates is not necessarily a bad thing for bonds nor is it bad for IG-rated companies with good balance sheets but it could present a headwind for equities and certain sectors of the economy such as commercial real estate.  Ultimately we believe “higher for longer” diminishes the prospect of a soft landing and increases the probability that the economy will enter a recession near the end of 2024 or sometime in 2025.  The timing of such a call is always the most difficult part.

Moving Forward

Thank you for your continued enthusiasm and support and for trusting us to manage your hard earned capital.  We look forward to collaborating with you in 2024.

This information is intended solely to report on investment strategies identified by Cincinnati Asset Management. Opinions and estimates offered constitute our judgment and are subject to change without notice, as are statements of financial market trends, which are based on current market conditions. This material is not intended as an offer or solicitation to buy, hold or sell any financial instrument.  Fixed income securities may be sensitive to prevailing interest rates.  When rates rise the value generally declines.  Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.  Gross of advisory fee performance does not reflect the deduction of investment advisory fees.  Our advisory fees are disclosed in Form ADV Part 2A.  Accounts managed through brokerage firm programs usually will include additional fees.  Returns are calculated monthly in U.S. dollars and include reinvestment of dividends and interest. The index is unmanaged and does not take into account fees, expenses, and transaction costs.  It is shown for comparative purposes and is based on information generally available to the public from sources believed to be reliable.  No representation is made to its accuracy or completeness. 

 

The information provided in this report should not be considered a recommendation to purchase or sell any particular security.  There is no assurance that any securities discussed herein will remain in an account’s portfolio at the time you receive this report or that securities sold have not been repurchased.  The securities discussed do not represent an account’s entire portfolio and in the aggregate may represent only a small percentage of an account’s portfolio holdings.  It should not be assumed that any of the securities transactions or holdings discussed were or will prove to be profitable, or that the investment decisions we make in the future will be profitable or will equal the investment performance of the securities discussed herein.


Additional disclosures on the material risks and potential benefits of investing in corporate bonds are available on our website:
https://www.cambonds.com/disclosure-statements/

i Barclays Bank PLC, December 11 2023 “US Investment Grade Credit Metrics, Q3 23 Update: Stable”

ii Federal Reserve System Board of Governors Chairman Jerome H. Powell News Conference, December 13 2023 “Federal Reserve System”

iii The Wall Street Journal, January 5 2024 “Job Gains Picked Up in December Capping Year of Healthy Hiring”

20 Jan 2024

COMENTARIO DEL CUARTO TRIMESTRE

El crédito con grado de inversión se recuperó en 2023.  El ejercicio fue una fuerte demostración de la reducción de los diferenciales y del beneficio residual asociado con altas tasas de interés.  Para todo el año 2023, el diferencial ajustado por opciones (OAS) en el índice de bonos corporativos de EE. UU. de Bloomberg se redujo en 31 puntos básicos a 99 después de haber abierto el año en 130.  Las tasas de interés fueron volátiles durante 2023, pero el rendimiento de los bonos del Tesoro al final del período terminó muy cerca de donde comenzó.  Los bonos del Tesoro a 10 años terminaron 2023 en 3,88 %, que es el mismo número con el que cerraron en 2022.  Los bonos del Tesoro a 2 y 5 años terminaron 2023 con una disminución de 18 y 15 puntos básicos, respectivamente, respecto de donde empezaron.

Año 2023 en revisión

Se trató de un año sólido con rendimiento positivo para el crédito con grado de inversión, aunque hubo algunos obstáculos en el camino.  El índice corporativo se mantuvo en territorio positivo durante todas las jornadas bursátiles de los primeros nueve meses de 2023, salvo por dos días, hasta que las tasas de interés más altas afectaron la rentabilidad en las tres primeras semanas de octubre.  El 19 de octubre, la rentabilidad total del último año para este índice estuvo en su punto más bajo, con una disminución de -2,53 %, lo que coincidió con el día en que el bono del Tesoro a 10 años cerró en 4,99 %, su nivel más alto del ciclo actual y su rendimiento más alto desde julio de 2007.

Desde ese punto en octubre se produjo un doble impacto de diferenciales más ajustados y tasas de interés más bajas, lo que se tradujo en rentabilidades más altas hacia fin de año.  El OAS del índice bajó de 129, el 19 de octubre, a 99, a fin de año, mientras que el bono del Tesoro a 10 años descendió de 4,99 % a 3,88 % durante el mismo período.  Como resultado de la reducción de los diferenciales y la disminución de las tasas de interés, el Índice corporativo registró una rentabilidad total de +11,33 % entre el 19 de octubre y finales del año 2023.  ¿Cuál fue el catalizador de un cambio de rumbo tan drástico en el rendimiento en tan poco tiempo?  Creemos que existen varias razones para que los inversores volvieran positivo el crédito con grado de inversión: una inflación controlada, un mercado de empleo resiliente y un crecimiento económico sólido, por nombrar algunas.  Sin embargo, en nuestra opinión, el mayor impulsor del aumento del rendimiento fue la probabilidad de que la Reserva Federal hubiera llegado al final de su actual ciclo de subidas.  La Reserva Federal optó por hacer una pausa en sus reuniones de septiembre, noviembre y diciembre, y en su comunicado de la reunión más reciente, se sugirió que no habría más subidas.  A lo largo del ciclo de subidas, hemos argumentado que el crédito corporativo podría tener un buen desempeño cuando quedara más claro que la Reserva Federal había concluido con su política de suba de tasas, pero la profundidad y velocidad del repunte del cuarto trimestre superó nuestras expectativas.

En lo que respecta al rendimiento del diferencial, 2023 fue testigo de diferenciales más ajustados en todos los ámbitos.  Más de la mitad (4,55 %) de la rentabilidad total del índice para 2023 (8,52 %) se pudo atribuir a diferenciales de crédito más ajustados.  El crédito con calificación de grado de inversión (IG) de menor calidad lideró el camino, especialmente a medida que se redujeron los diferenciales de crédito durante los últimos dos meses del año.  Las industrias con un mejor rendimiento en 2023 fueron la de Medios y Entretenimiento y Servicios de Yacimientos Petrolíferos.  Si bien el rendimiento para los rezagados fue positivo, Maquinaria de Construcción y Productos de Consumo fueron las dos industrias más rezagadas en relación con el índice corporativo.  No hubo ninguna industria del universo con grado de inversión que se acercara lo más mínimo a un registro de rentabilidad total anual negativa.

Perspectiva para el 2024

Tenemos una postura positiva sobre el mercado de crédito con grado de inversión para el año entrante.  El rendimiento de esta clase de activos continúa cotizando a niveles mucho más elevados en relación con la historia reciente.  El rendimiento promedio del Índice durante los últimos 10 años fue de 3,45 % y finalizó a 5,06 % en 2023.  No es atractivo hoy en día como lo era durante la liquidación de tasas de octubre cuando el índice cerró con un rendimiento superior a 6,4 %, pero la compensación ofrecida sigue siendo significativamente más alta que en el pasado reciente.

Nuestra visión positiva del mercado, según lo descrito anteriormente, se refiere a la compensación “total” para IG que está compuesta por el Tesoro subyacente, así como una compensación adicional que recibe el inversor por la tenencia de un bono en forma de diferencial de crédito.  Hablando específicamente de la valoración de los diferenciales de crédito, no tenemos una visión tan positiva sobre los diferenciales cuando prestamos atención a los rendimientos producidos con los niveles actuales de negociación, y creemos que los diferenciales terminaron el año cerca del extremo más ajustado del valor de mercado.  Si observamos los últimos 20 años de datos, el diferencial promedio del índice fue de 149, aunque este período incluye la Crisis Financiera Global (GFC) cuando el diferencial del índice se disparó a más de 600.  El punto bajo fue de 75 en marzo de 2005 y el más bajo del ciclo de crédito actual fue de 80 en 2021.  El diferencial del índice cerró el año en 99 y definitivamente es capaz de mantenerse operando lateralmente en este nivel durante un largo período de tiempo e incluso puede ajustarse a niveles más bajos a partir de aquí.  Pero queremos ser realistas con nuestros inversores sobre el potencial alcista de los diferenciales de crédito.  Creemos que los diferenciales de crédito están negociándose con una probabilidad relativamente alta de un impacto controlado, y cualquier dato que indique lo contrario (léase: recesión) provocará diferenciales más amplios.  La buena noticia es que cuando se comienza con un rendimiento superior al 5 %, hay un cómodo margen de seguridad disponible para la ampliación de los diferenciales mientras se generan rendimientos totales positivos.  También señalaríamos que la mayoría de las recesiones están acompañadas por una disminución de los rendimientos de los bonos del Tesoro, lo que podría compensar la ampliación de los diferenciales de crédito.

Tenemos una visión favorable de la salud general del mercado de créditos y creemos que la solidez de las métricas crediticias es convincente desde el punto de vista de la recompensa por el riesgo.  Si bien el punto máximo de las métricas crediticias del ciclo actual se produjo a finales de 2021, la solvencia del mercado de créditos con grado de inversión como un todo es estable e incluso algunas mediciones muestran una mejora.1Fi Según la investigación recopilada por Barclays, a finales del tercer trimestre de 2023, el apalancamiento neto para el índice fue 2,8 veces mayor, los márgenes de EBITDA fueron del 29,6 % y la cobertura de intereses fue de 12,7 veces mayor.a1 Si bien el apalancamiento y la cobertura de intereses no tuvieron tan buen desempeño como en los últimos años, estuvieron dentro de niveles razonables y mostraron una mejora reciente, mientras los márgenes de EBITDA han sido notablemente estables y estuvieron solo un 0,4 % por debajo de los máximos históricos.  Salvo unas pocas excepciones, las compañías calificadas con grado de inversión están en muy buena forma.

Posicionamiento de la cartera

Nos centramos en la gestión del riesgo crediticio a través de un proceso de investigación detallado; así que aunque tengamos una visión macro, pasamos la mayor parte del tiempo pensando en cómo esa visión más amplia puede afectar a las inversiones individuales dentro de las carteras de los clientes.  Como recordatorio, estructuramos cada cuenta individual administrada de la siguiente manera.

  • Diversificación: se ingresan datos iniciales para cada cliente individual o cartera institucional con 20 a 25 posiciones. Diversificamos las carteras buscando limitar cada cuenta a una exposición de 20 % a nivel sectorial y un 15 % a nivel de industria individual, con excepción del sector de Instituciones financieras (Finanzas).  Para el sector de Finanzas, limitamos cada cuenta a una exposición de 30 % porque este sector representa una amplia porción del índice de IG con una ponderación del 32,97 % a finales de 2023.
  • Calidad crediticia: uno de los mayores diferenciadores entre la cartera de CAM y el Índice radica en nuestro sesgo hacia créditos de mayor calidad, en el sentido de que buscamos limitar cada cuenta de cliente a una exposición del 30 % en bonos con calificación BAA. El índice tuvo una ponderación de 47,14 % en créditos con calificación BAA a finales de 2023 y esta cifra ha superado el 50 % varias veces para el índice en los últimos años: esto deja la cartera de CAM con una exposición significativamente menor a créditos de calificación más baja en comparación con el índice.
  • Vencimiento: siempre buscaremos posicionar la cartera dentro de una banda de vencimiento intermedio que oscila entre los 5 y 10 años. Ocasionalmente verá que mantenemos algunos vencimientos más cortos que vencen a menos de 5 años. Esto se da especialmente durante el entorno actual, donde ciertas partes de la curva del Tesoro están invertidas; queremos ser pacientes y permitir más tiempo para que nuestras operaciones de venta y extensión sean rentables.  Ocasionalmente también adquiriremos un bono con un vencimiento superior a 10 años pero esto no es habitual y una compra de esa naturaleza no tendrá una duración sustancialmente mayor a 10 años. Durante la fase de inversión, normalmente llenaremos nuevas carteras con vencimientos que fluctúan entre los 8 y los 10 años.  A medida que una cuenta se vuelve antigua, buscamos vender los bonos con aproximadamente 5 años de vencimiento y, a continuación, reinvertimos los ingresos de esas ventas en vencimientos de aproximadamente 10 años.  Como resultado de nuestro posicionamiento intermedio, a finales de 2023, nuestro compuesto tuvo una duración modificada de 5,4 en relación con la duración de 7,3 del índice.

La misión de nuestra Estrategia de grado de inversión es proporcionar a nuestros clientes rentabilidades superiores ajustadas al riesgo.  Nuestra meta es minimizar la volatilidad incurriendo en menos riesgo crediticio y menos riesgo de tasas de interés que con el índice.

Vigilancia de la Reserva Federal

En sus comentarios preparados después de la reunión de diciembre del Comité Federal del Mercado Abierto (FOMC), el presidente Powell dijo que “…nuestra tasa de referencia probablemente esté en su punto máximo, o cerca de él, para este ciclo de ajuste”.ii Aunque no descartó específicamente nuevas alzas en las tasas, cada vez está más claro que es improbable que la Reserva Federal vuelva a subirlas.  Ahora toda la atención se ha centrado en el relato del recorte de tasas de la Reserva Federal, lo que seguramente dominará el ciclo de noticias empresariales en 2024.  La versión más reciente del “gráfico de puntos” de la Reserva Federal lanzado en su reunión de diciembre mostró que la banca central espera recortes de 0,75 % en las tasas para 2024.  Una manera de interpretarlo es que si la Reserva Federal opera con aumentos de 25 puntos básicos, se prevén recortes en las tasas tres veces en el año.  Cabe destacar que el gráfico de puntos solo es la mejor estimación en un punto temporal específico y no implica necesariamente que la estimación por consenso se hará realidad.  Por ejemplo, el gráfico de puntos publicado en la reunión de septiembre de 2023 mostró que habría un aumento de 25 puntos básicos adicionales en 2023, pero eso no ocurrió.

La Reserva Federal causó un revuelo con sus comentarios moderados en su reunión de diciembre.  Una medición que rastreamos para evaluar la percepción del mercado es el índice de condiciones financieras de Goldman Sachs, que es un promedio ponderado de tasas de interés a corto y largo plazo, el valor del dólar estadounidense, los diferenciales de crédito y la relación de los precios de las acciones con el promedio de 10 años de las ganancias por acción (EPS).

Como se puede ver en el gráfico anterior, las condiciones se fueron ajustando rápidamente en septiembre y octubre, antes de que empezaran a relajarse rápidamente, comenzando con la reunión del FOMC del 1 de noviembre y nuevamente en la reunión del 13 de diciembre (indicado por la línea vertical del gráfico).  No consideramos que se trate necesariamente de un error de política, pero creemos que la conferencia de prensa de diciembre fue una oportunidad perdida para el presidente Powell de oponerse a la relajación de las condiciones financieras, que terminaron el 2023 cerca de los niveles más cómodos del año.  La economía de Estados Unidos sumó 4.8 millones de empleos en 2022 y otros 2.7 millones en 2023.iii Creemos que el umbral para los recortes de las tasas a corto plazo es bastante alto, a menos que la economía experimente una desaceleración proporcional del crecimiento del empleo en 2024.

Esto nos conduce a nuestra reflexión final respecto de la política de la Reserva Federal.  El margen deseado para los Fondos Federales fue de 5,25 % a 5,5 % al final del año y la tasa efectiva de Fondos Federales, según los datos recopilados por la Reserva Federal de Nueva York, fue del 5,33 % a finales de 2023.  Un movimiento de 75 puntos básicos en una tasa efectiva de 5,33 % supone una disminución porcentual de 14 %.  Nos preguntamos si la perspectiva de un movimiento de apenas el 14 % es realmente suficiente para sostener la exuberancia que experimentaron los activos de riesgo en los últimos dos meses de 2023.  Creemos que, independientemente de lo que digan, esta Reserva Federal tiene la determinación de no repetir los errores del pasado y debe tener la máxima confianza en que la inflación llegará a su objetivo del 2 % antes de comenzar a tener un impacto significativo en los recortes de tasas.  La mejor manera que tiene la Reserva Federal para lograr esto es mantener su tasa de referencia “más alta por más tiempo”. Un período prolongado de tasas elevadas no es necesariamente algo malo para los bonos ni para las empresas con calificación de grado de inversión y balances sólidos, pero podría representar un obstáculo para las acciones y ciertos sectores de la economía, como el mercado comercial de bienes raíces.  En última instancia, creemos que una tasa “más alta por más tiempo” disminuye la posibilidad de un impacto controlado y aumenta la probabilidad de que la economía entre en una recesión cerca del final de 2024 o en algún momento de 2025.  El marco temporal de esta opción siempre es la parte más difícil.

De cara al futuro

Gracias por su continuo entusiasmo y apoyo y por depositar su confianza en nosotros para administrar el capital que tanto esfuerzo les costó ganar.  Ansiamos colaborar con ustedes en 2024.

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This information is intended solely to report on investment strategies identified by Cincinnati Asset Management. Opinions and estimates offered constitute our judgment and are subject to change without notice, as are statements of financial market trends, which are based on current market conditions. This material is not intended as an offer or solicitation to buy, hold or sell any financial instrument.  Fixed income securities may be sensitive to prevailing interest rates.  When rates rise the value generally declines.  Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.  Gross of advisory fee performance does not reflect the deduction of investment advisory fees.  Our advisory fees are disclosed in Form ADV Part 2A.  Accounts managed through brokerage firm programs usually will include additional fees.  Returns are calculated monthly in U.S. dollars and include reinvestment of dividends and interest. The index is unmanaged and does not take into account fees, expenses, and transaction costs.  It is shown for comparative purposes and is based on information generally available to the public from sources believed to be reliable.  No representation is made to its accuracy or completeness. 

 

The information provided in this report should not be considered a recommendation to purchase or sell any particular security.  There is no assurance that any securities discussed herein will remain in an account’s portfolio at the time you receive this report or that securities sold have not been repurchased.  The securities discussed do not represent an account’s entire portfolio and in the aggregate may represent only a small percentage of an account’s portfolio holdings.  It should not be assumed that any of the securities transactions or holdings discussed were or will prove to be profitable, or that the investment decisions we make in the future will be profitable or will equal the investment performance of the securities discussed herein.


Additional disclosures on the material risks and potential benefits of investing in corporate bonds are available on our website:
https://www.cambonds.com/disclosure-statements/

i Barclays Bank PLC, December 11 2023 “US Investment Grade Credit Metrics, Q3 23 Update: Stable”

ii Federal Reserve System Board of Governors Chairman Jerome H. Powell News Conference, December 13 2023 “Federal Reserve System”

iii The Wall Street Journal, January 5 2024 “Job Gains Picked Up in December Capping Year of Healthy Hiring”

22 Oct 2023

COMENTARIO DEL TERCER TRIMESTRE

Los diferenciales de crédito con grado de inversión fueron más ajustados durante el tercer trimestre, pero los rendimientos de los bonos del Tesoro subieron, lo que actuó como un importante obstáculo para la rentabilidad.  Durante el trimestre, el diferencial ajustado por opciones (Option Adjusted Spread, OAS) en el índice de bonos corporativos de EE. UU. de Bloomberg se redujo en 2 puntos básicos y llegó a 121 después de haber abierto el año con un OAS de 123.  Las curvas de los bonos del Tesoro intermedio se inclinaron durante el período, con relativamente pocas variaciones en los bonos del Tesoro a 2 años, mientras que los rendimientos de los bonos del Tesoro a 5 y 10 años subieron significativamente.   Las tasas más altas son malas noticias para los rendimientos a corto plazo, pero a largo plazo, la inclinación de la curva es algo que nos gusta ver, ya que crea un entorno más amigable para los inversores en bonos.  Las curvas con pendiente positiva maximizan la eficiencia y el potencial de rendimiento de un bono que avanza hacia abajo en la curva de rendimiento a medida que se acerca al vencimiento.

El índice corporativo registró un rendimiento total de todo el trimestre de -3.09 %.  La rentabilidad total neta de comisiones del programa de grado de inversión de Cincinnati Asset Management, Inc. (CAM) fue del -2.36 %.  Los rendimientos totales el último año se mantuvieron positivos tanto para el índice como para el CAM hasta el final del trimestre.

Actualización de mercado

El rendimiento al vencimiento (yield to maturity, YTM) del índice Bloomberg U.S. Corporate cerró el trimestre en 6.04 %.  Aquí hay algunas estadísticas para proporcionar contexto:

 

  • El YTM promedio a 5 años fue del 3.48 %.  El índice cerró >6 % menos del 0.7 % de los días hábiles.
  • El YTM promedio a 10 años fue del 3.38 %.  El índice cerró >6 % menos del 0.4 % de los días hábiles.
  • El YTM promedio a 15 años fue del 3.69 %.  El índice cerró >6 % menos que el 5.2 % de los días hábiles.
  • El YTM promedio a 20 años fue del 4.12 %.  El índice cerró >6 % menos que el 7.6 % de los días hábiles.

 

Con los rendimientos cerca de los máximos del ciclo y las situaciones fundamentales de las empresas en buena forma, creemos que el crédito IG ofrece una propuesta de valor atractiva.  También creemos que la desventaja para la clase de activos es limitada debido a estos elevados rendimientos.  Los rendimientos del Tesoro podrían subir a partir de aquí o podría haber un aterrizaje forzoso que podría ampliar los diferenciales de crédito, pero el impacto de esos movimientos en los rendimientos disminuye cuando el punto de partida es un rendimiento >6 %, lo que proporciona un colchón significativo para los inversores en bonos.

Creemos que los diferenciales de crédito estaban valorados de forma justa al final del trimestre.  La OAS en el índice terminó el trimestre en 121 en relación con sus promedios de 5 y 10 años de 123 y 124, respectivamente.  Los inversores son cautelosos respecto de la dirección de la economía estadounidense, por lo que creemos que podría resultar difícil un mayor ajuste de los diferenciales desde los niveles actuales.  Sin embargo, existen un par de escenarios que podrían hacer que los diferenciales se ajusten más: 1.) La curva de rendimiento continúa aumentando hasta el punto de que ya no está invertida y/o 2.) La inflación continúa cayendo, coincidiendo con un aterrizaje suave para la economía de EE. UU.  Existe también un tercer escenario, que contempla una falta de oferta de nuevos bonos hasta finales de año, lo que podría crear un desajuste entre la oferta y la demanda: si las nuevas emisiones son insuficientes para satisfacer la demanda de los inversores, entonces los diferenciales secundarios podrían reducirse en ausencia de datos económicos negativos.  Por el contrario, los diferenciales podrían ampliarse si una política monetaria restrictiva lleva a la economía a una recesión.  Creemos que el resultado más probable es que los diferenciales se negocien dentro de un rango relativamente estrecho hasta que haya más certeza entre los inversores sobre la dirección de la economía y las expectativas de inflación.  En resumen, con rendimientos elevados del Tesoro y una compensación justa por el riesgo crediticio, creemos que el crédito con grado de inversión sigue siendo atractivo.

Asignación de activos: acciones frente a bonos

A lo largo de 2023, los bonos del Tesoro han subido más, mientras que las acciones han seguido avanzando, registrando rendimientos impresionantes.  Esta acción del precio ha puesto de relieve el concepto de prima de riesgo de acciones (equity risk premium, ERP).  La ERP es el rendimiento adicional que un inversor obtiene de las acciones en comparación con los bonos por asumir un riesgo adicional en el mercado de valores.  Para decirlo en términos matemáticos, la ERP es la diferencia entre el rendimiento de las ganancias del S&P 500 y el rendimiento del Tesoro a 10 años.  El siguiente gráfico de la ERP está expresado en términos de puntos básicos.

Actualmente, la ERP se encuentra en su nivel más bajo en cualquier momento de los últimos 20 años.  ¿Fortalece esto el argumento a favor de los bonos con grado de inversión, que obtienen un diferencial superior a la tasa libre de riesgo?  Creemos que sí, pero vale la pena señalar que la ERP puede volverse negativo; fue profundamente negativo durante un período prolongado durante el período de la burbuja de las puntocom de 1998 hasta principios de 2001.

El efectivo sigue siendo atractivo, pero no tanto

La pregunta más frecuente que hemos seguido recibiendo de inversores individuales durante el año pasado es algo como esto.  

“Los rendimientos al 6 % me parecen fantásticos, pero ¿por qué debería asignarlos a bonos corporativos intermedios cuando puedo comprar un Tesoro a dos años al 5 % o un CD a 18 meses al 5.25 %?” 

Para ser claros, creemos que los inversores deberían aprovechar la dislocación en el extremo inicial de la curva de rendimiento, pero no deberían hacerlo a expensas de sus objetivos a más largo plazo.  Estas tasas altas a corto plazo son un fenómeno del ciclo de subidas de tipos de la Reserva Federal y la curva invertida podría disiparse rápidamente cuando la Reserva Federal cambie de rumbo.  Un inversor que asigna en exceso al extremo inicial de la curva corre el riesgo de perder rendimientos mayores un poco más allá de la curva.  El objetivo para la mayoría de los inversores debe ser asignar su cartera de manera que se beneficie de tasas altas a corto plazo y al mismo tiempo mantener una exposición a la parte intermedia de la curva de rendimiento para que la cartera pueda cosechar los beneficios de una curva que eventualmente se vuelve a empinar de su estado invertido actual.  Un inversor que espere el primer recorte de tipos de la Reserva Federal o espere a que esta operación sea obvia podría perderse muchos frutos maduros en lo que a rentabilidad se refiere.

El tema del riesgo de reinversión sigue siendo de gran actualidad en nuestras conversaciones con los inversores. Comuníquese con uno de nuestros asesores de clientes si desea discutir esto más a fondo o si puede ver parte de nuestro contenido anterior aquí.

Curva de crédito corporativo: un juego de espera

La curva de crédito corporativo es parte integral de nuestra estrategia en CAM.  El siguiente gráfico muestra la variación desde principios de año hasta finales del tercer trimestre tanto para la curva del Tesoro como para la curva de rendimiento corporativo.  Nuestro enfoque en CAM está en vencimientos intermedios que van de 5 a 10 años.

Tanto las curvas corporativas como las del Tesoro han subido mucho en lo que va de 2023.  Es importante señalar que, si bien la curva del Tesoro se ha mantenido invertida, la curva corporativa ha mantenido su pendiente.  Por ejemplo, aunque la curva del Tesoro 5/10 se invirtió -4pb al final del trimestre, un inversor podría esperar ganar +21pb en rendimiento adicional (en promedio) al extender desde un bono corporativo a 5 años a un bono corporativo a 10 años.  Esto equivale a una curva de crédito corporativo 5/10 de +25pb.   Para nuestros inversores actuales, actualmente mantenemos algunos vencimientos más largos de lo habitual, ya que estamos esperando pacientemente a que la curva de crédito corporativo se intensifique.  Una curva más pronunciada nos permite extraer más valor para nuestros inversores de las operaciones de extensión.  A medida que el ciclo de ajuste de la Reserva Federal llegue a su conclusión lógica, esperamos un aumento tanto en la curva del Tesoro subyacente como en la curva de crédito corporativo.  A medida que estas curvas se profundicen, los inversores que han estado con nosotros durante algún tiempo empezarán a vernos reanudar nuestras operaciones de extensión.  El siguiente gráfico de la Reserva Federal de St. Louis ofrece un buen ejemplo de cuánto más pronunciada ha sido la curva de crédito corporativo durante la mayor parte de la última década en relación con su situación actual.

La Reserva Federal: ¿ya llegamos a ese punto?

La Reserva Federal aumentó los tipos un +0.25 % en su reunión de julio, pero mantuvo los tipos estables en su reunión de septiembre.  La Reserva Federal se reúne dos veces más este año, el primer día de noviembre y nuevamente a mediados de diciembre.  El gráfico de puntos del FOMC muestra una expectativa de un aumento más de +25pb este año y recortes de -50pb el próximo año.  Al final del trimestre, los inversores asignaban una probabilidad del 39.1 % a una subida adicional de tipos para finales de año, según Fed Funds Futures. 

El mensaje de la Reserva Federal ha sido coherente últimamente, recalcando el mantra de “más alto por más tiempo”.  No creemos que sea especialmente significativo que la Reserva Federal suba las tasas una vez más, o incluso dos veces.  En cambio, creemos que los inversores en bonos deben alegrarse ante la probabilidad de que la Reserva Federal finalmente esté cerca del final de su ciclo de subidas de tipos.

Seguir trabajando duro

Fue un trimestre para olvidar para los rendimientos del crédito IG, pero la propuesta de valor a largo plazo permanece.  Incluso a pesar del movimiento masivo de los bonos del Tesoro, la clase de activos se ha mantenido en territorio positivo en el último año.  Continuaremos administrando su capital lo mejor que podamos, buscando rendimientos superiores ajustados al riesgo en medio de un panorama cada vez más volátil.  Gracias por su continuo interés y confianza.

Esta información solo tiene el propósito de dar a conocer las estrategias de inversión identificadas por Cincinnati Asset Management. Las opiniones y estimaciones ofrecidas están basadas en nuestro criterio y están sujetas a cambios sin previo aviso, al igual que las declaraciones sobre las tendencias del mercado financiero, que dependen de las condiciones actuales del mercado. Este material no tiene como objetivo ser una oferta ni una solicitud para comprar, mantener ni vender instrumentos financieros.  Los valores de renta fija pueden ser vulnerables a las tasas de interés vigentes.  Cuando las tasas aumentan, el valor suele disminuir.  El rendimiento pasado no es garantía de resultados futuros.  El rendimiento bruto de la tarifa de asesoramiento no refleja la deducción de las tarifas de asesoramiento de inversión.  Nuestras tarifas de asesoramiento se comunican en el Formulario ADV Parte 2A.  En general, las cuentas administradas mediante programas de firmas de corretaje incluyen tarifas adicionales.  Los rendimientos se calculan mensualmente en dólares estadounidenses e incluyen la reinversión de dividendos e intereses. El índice no está administrado y no considera las tarifas de la cuenta, los gastos y los costos de transacción.  Se muestra con fines comparativos y se basa en información generalmente disponible al público tomada de fuentes que se consideran confiables.  No se hace ninguna afirmación sobre su precisión o integridad.  

 

La información proporcionada en este informe no debe considerarse una recomendación para comprar o vender ningún valor en particular.  No hay garantía de que los valores que se tratan en este documento permanecerán en la cartera de una cuenta en el momento en que reciba este informe o que los valores vendidos no hayan sido vueltos a comprar.  Los valores de los que se habla no representan la cartera completa de una cuenta y, en conjunto, pueden representar solo un pequeño porcentaje de las tenencias de cartera de una cuenta.  No debe suponerse que las transacciones de valores o tenencias analizadas fueron o demostrarán ser rentables, o que las decisiones de inversión que tomemos en el futuro serán rentables o igualarán el rendimiento de la inversión de los valores discutidos en este documento.


En nuestro sitio web se encuentran disponibles las divulgaciones adicionales sobre los riesgos materiales y los posibles beneficios de invertir en bonos corporativos: https://www.cambonds.com/disclosure-statements/.

14 Jul 2023

2023 Q2 High Yield Quarterly

In the second quarter of 2023, the Bloomberg US Corporate High Yield Index (“Index”) return was 1.75% bringing the year to date (“YTD”) return to 5.38%.  The S&P 500 index return was 8.74% (including dividends reinvested) bringing the YTD return to 16.88%.  Over the period, while the 10 year Treasury yield increased 37 basis points, the Index option adjusted spread (“OAS”) tightened 65 basis points moving from 455 basis points to 390 basis points.

All ratings segments of the High Yield Market participated in the spread tightening as BB rated securities tightened 31 basis points, B rated securities tightened 67 basis points, and CCC rated securities tightened 136 basis points.  The chart below from Bloomberg displays the spread moves in the Index over the past five years.  For reference, the average level over the five years is 411 basis points.

The sector and industry returns in this paragraph are all index return numbers.  The Other Industrial, Finance Companies, and REITs sectors were the best performers during the quarter, posting returns of 3.90%, 3.66%, and 3.44%, respectively.  On the other hand, Banking, Electric Utilities, and Other Financial were the worst performing sectors, posting returns of -1.68%, -0.26%, and -0.09%, respectively.  At the industry level, retailers, leisure, and retail REITs all posted the best returns.  The retailers industry posted the highest return of 6.39%.  The lowest performing industries during the quarter were wireless, life insurance, and paper.  The wireless industry posted the lowest return of -2.67%.

While there was a dearth of issuance during 2022 as interest rates rapidly increased and capital structures were previously refinanced, the primary market perked up a bit during the second quarter this year.  Of the issuance that did take place, Energy took 23% of the market share followed by Discretionary at an 18% share and Financials at a 15% share.

The Federal Reserve did lift the Target Rate by 0.25% at the May meeting but took a pause at the June meeting.  This was the first rate pause during the current 15 month long hiking cycle where the Fed has hiked by 500 basis points.  With inflation still too high and the labor market still too tight, Chair Jerome Powell has provided a clear message that additional hikes this year are to be expected.  “A strong majority of committee participants expect that it will be appropriate to raise interest rates two or more times by the end of the year,” Powell said, referencing the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee during a conference at the end of June.  “Inflation pressures continue to run high, and the process of getting inflation back down to 2% has a long way to go.”i  Powell did acknowledge that the outlook is “particularly uncertain” and noted that the Fed will pay close attention to ongoing economic data releases.  With regard to the banking turmoil that started back in March, Powell suggested that more supervision and regulation is likely needed but did note that the US banking system is “strong and resilient.”  At this point, treasury rates and high yield spreads are about where they were prior to the banking scare.

 

Intermediate Treasuries increased 37 basis points over the quarter, as the 10-year Treasury yield was at 3.47% on March 31st, and 3.84% at the end of the second quarter.  The 5-year Treasury increased 59 basis points over the quarter, moving from 3.57% on March 31st, to 4.16% at the end of the second quarter.  Intermediate term yields more often reflect GDP and expectations for future economic growth and inflation rather than actions taken by the FOMC to adjust the Target Rate.  The revised first quarter GDP print was 2.0% (quarter over quarter annualized rate).  Looking forward, the current consensus view of economists suggests a GDP for 2023 around 1.3% with inflation expectations around 4.3%.[ii]

Being a more conservative asset manager, Cincinnati Asset Management Inc. does not buy CCC and lower rated securities.  Additionally, our interest rate agnostic philosophy keeps us generally positioned in the five to ten year maturity timeframe.  During Q2, Index performance was once again tilted toward the lowest rated end of the market as there was a mostly risk-on tone in the quarter.  Additionally, given the positive quarterly return of the Index, our natural cash position was a drag on performance for Q1.  Our credit selections within communications and energy were also a drag to performance.  Benefiting our performance this quarter was our overweight in consumer cyclicals, particularly home construction, and our credit selections in transportation, leisure, and aerospace and defense.

The Bloomberg US Corporate High Yield Index ended the second quarter with a yield of 8.50%.  Treasury volatility, as measured by the Merrill Lynch Option Volatility Estimate (“MOVE” Index), has picked up quite a bit the past 18 months.  Over that timeframe, the MOVE has averaged 122 relative to a 62 average over 2021.  However, the current rate of 110 is well below the spike near 200 back in March during the banking scare.  The second quarter had eight bond issuers default on their debt, taking the trailing twelve month default rate to 1.64%.iii  The current default rate is relative to the 0.86%, 0.83%, 0.84%, 1.27% default rates from the previous four quarter end data points listed oldest to most recent.  The fundamentals of high yield companies still look good considering the uncertain economic backdrop.  From a technical view, fund flows were only slightly negative in the quarter at -$0.6 billion after totaling -$24.3 billion during Q1.iv  No doubt there are risks, but we are of the belief that for clients that have an investment horizon over a complete market cycle, high yield deserves to be considered as part of the portfolio allocation

The Fed will continue to remain a large part of the story in the second half of this year.  While their message to expect more hikes remains clear, market participants have listened as they exited previous positioning for rate cuts later in 2023.  As an aggregate of over 50 institutional contributors, the Bloomberg recession probability forecast currently stands at 65%.  Naturally, there are plenty of reasons to be cautious as lending standards have tightened and defaults are on the rise.  That said, the unemployment rate is sub 4%, demand is resilient, and good fundamentals are still providing cushion.  Our exercise of discipline and selectivity in credit selections is important as we continue to evaluate that the given compensation for the perceived level of risk remains appropriate.  As always, we will continue our search for value and adjust positions as we uncover compelling situations.  Finally, we are very grateful for the trust placed in our team to manage your capital.

This information is intended solely to report on investment strategies identified by Cincinnati Asset Management. Opinions and estimates offered constitute our judgment and are subject to change without notice, as are statements of financial market trends, which are based on current market conditions. This material is not intended as an offer or solicitation to buy, hold or sell any financial instrument.  Fixed income securities may be sensitive to prevailing interest rates.  When rates rise the value generally declines.  Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.  Gross of advisory fee performance does not reflect the deduction of investment advisory fees.  Our advisory fees are disclosed in Form ADV Part 2A.  Accounts managed through brokerage firm programs usually will include additional fees.  Returns are calculated monthly in U.S. dollars and include reinvestment of dividends and interest. The index is unmanaged and does not take into account fees, expenses, and transaction costs.  It is shown for comparative purposes and is based on information generally available to the public from sources believed to be reliable.  No representation is made to its accuracy or completeness.  Additional disclosures on the material risks and potential benefits of investing in corporate bonds are available on our website: https://www.cambonds.com/disclosure-statements/.

i Bloomberg June 29, 2023:  Powell Says Likely Need Two or More Hikes to Cool Inflation

ii Bloomberg July 3, 2023: Economic Forecasts (ECFC)

iii JP Morgan July 5, 2023:  “Default Monitor”

iv CreditSights June 29, 2023:  “Credit Flows”

10 Apr 2023

2023 Q1 COMENTARIO DEL PRIMER TRIMESTRE

El crédito con grado de inversión (en inglés IG) registró rendimiento total positivo estable a partir de 2023. Durante el primer trimestre, el diferencial ajustado por opciones (OAS) en el Índice de Bonos Corporativos de EE. UU. de Bloomberg se amplió en 8 puntos básicos y llegó a 138 después de haber comenzado el año en 130. Con diferenciales más amplios, el rendimiento positivo durante el trimestre se vio impulsado por los ingresos por cupones y un repunte en los bonos del Tesoro, con el título a 10 años cerrando el trimestre en 3.47 %, 41 puntos básicos menos en lo que va del año.

Durante el primer trimestre, este Índice registró una rentabilidad total del +3.50 %. La rentabilidad total sin comisiones del programa de grado de inversión de CAM durante el trimestre fue del +3.41 %.

El grado de inversión vuelve a estar de moda

En nuestro último comentario, escribimos que el rendimiento total del crédito con grado de inversión podría estar a punto de rebotar. El Índice Corporativo ahora ha publicado dos trimestres consecutivos con rendimiento total positivo: el cuarto trimestre de 2022 y el primer trimestre de 2023 con +3.63 % y +3.50 %, respectivamente. 2022 fue el peor año en cuanto a rentabilidad total para el credito con grado de inversión registrado (-15.76 %), y el 7 de noviembre llegó al valor más bajo desde el pun o de vista de la rentabilidad. Desde el 7 de noviembre, el Índice Corporativo ha registrado una rentabilidad total positiva del +8.89 %, lo que ilustra la rapidez con la que puede cambiar el temperamento del mercado.

Los bonos del Tesoro a corto plazo ofrecen actualmente algunos de los rendimientos más elevados de los últimos años. El bono a 2 años cerró el primer trimestre de 2023 en 4.03 % y creemos que los de corta duración son una alternativa atractiva frente al efectivo. Aunque las tasas de corto plazo pueden resultar atractivas para colocar algo de efectivo, no creemos que sean un sustituto adecuado para una cartera de bonos corporativos de mediano plazo para la mayoría de los inversores, debido al alto grado de riesgo de reinversión que presentan. Cuando la Reserva Federal gire y comience a recortar la tasa de referencia, es probable que el rendimiento de los bonos del Tesoro de corto plazo tomen la misma dirección. En ese momento, un inversor que busque reemplazar sus bonos del Tesoro de corto plazo puede encontrarse con que el crédito de mediano plazo ha repuntado de forma significativa desde entonces en términos relativos; lo que podría hacer que el punto de entrada para el crédito con grado de inversión resultase menos atractivo de lo que es hoy. Al evitar los bonos corporativos de mediano plazo y limitar las asignaciones de renta fija a activos de corta duración, el inversor posiblemente corre el riesgo de renunciar a una buena cantidad de rentabilidad total. Para ciertas clases de activos, el posicionamiento táctico y la búsqueda del momento justo en el mercado pueden ser un esfuerzo beneficioso. Sin embargo, no creemos que el crédito con grado de inversión sea de ese tipo. En cambio, sostenemos que es más eficaz para los inversores con horizontes de medio o largo plazo considerar el crédito con grado de inversión de manera estratégica y asignarle una posición de capital permanente en una cartera de inversión bien diversificada.

Dinero y banca

Dada la agitación bancaria, pensamos que sería ilustrativo comentar la exposición y la filosofía de inversión de CAM en lo que respecta al sector de las instituciones financieras.

El sector financiero comprende una gran parte del Índice Corporativo, con una ponderación del 33.07 % al cierre del primer trimestre de 2023. La banca fue la industria más grande dentro del sector financiero, con una ponderación del 23.22 %. El resto de las industrias que componen la balanza del sector financiero son agentes de bolsa y administradores de activos, empresas financieras, aseguradoras, fideicomisos de inversión inmobiliaria (o REIT) y otras finanzas. CAM siempre ha tratado de limitar la cartera de cada cliente a una ponderación del 30 % (o menos) dentro del sector financiero para garantizar una diversificación adecuada desde el punto de vista del riesgo. A finales del primer trimestre, la cartera de CAM tenía una exposición ligeramente inferior al 20 % en la banca, mientras que el resto de la exposición en el sector financiero se componía de tres empresas de seguros de propiedad y siniestros (P&C) y dos empresas de REIT.

En cuanto a la exposición en el sector bancario, CAM es muy selectiva, con inversiones en apenas 11 bancos a fines del primer trimestre de 2023. Con un enfoque disciplinado en esta industria, siempre nos hemos centrarnos en instituciones bien administradas y de alta capitalización con flujos de ingresos muy diversificados y huella crediticia en diferentes regiones. El carácter fundamental de la filosofía de inversión de CAM y su proceso de análisis particular excluyen a bancos especializados y a bancos regionales porque tienen carteras de préstamos demasiado expuestas a determinados sectores o porque sus huellas están demasiado concentradas. Aplicamos el mismo tipo de análisis riguroso a nuestras exposiciones financieras en seguros y REIT. Como resultado, tenemos un alto grado de confianza en nuestras inversiones en el sector de instituciones financieras.

Aversión a la inversión

Seguimos recibiendo preguntas de los inversores sobre la curva de rendimiento invertida y su impacto en la cartera. Hay dos grandes temas para analizar.

  1. Para las cuentas nuevas, la inversión es auspiciosa, y genera un atractivo punto de entrada; mientras que las cuentas más antiguas pueden disfrutar de este mismo beneficio cuando realizan nuevas compras. La curva invertida ha creado de manera sistemática situaciones en las que resulta oportuno comprar bonos de mediano a corto plazo que, en nuestra opinión, probablemente tengan buen desempeño a medida que la curva se normalice con el tiempo. Pudimos comprar bonos que vencen en 7-8 años a precios que son atractivos en relación con los bonos de 9-10 años. Esto se traduce en una menor duración global para la cartera de clientes y un menor riesgo de la tasa de interés. Este tipo de oportunidades son mucho más pasajeras en entornos con curvas de bonos del Tesoro normalizadas al alza.
  2. Para las cuentas más antiguas o con inversión completa, el período de tenencia será más largo de lo habitual. Esto se debe a que la curva de rendimiento invertida ha dado lugar a una economía menos atractiva para las operaciones de extensión. En lugar de vender bonos a los 5 años, como haríamos normalmente, seguiremos conservándolos y cobrando los cupones mientras esperamos la normalización de la curva. Tendremos paciencia y estaremos atentos al panorama para ver si se presentan oportunidades de extensión; lo que significa que es probable que mantengamos los bonos existentes hasta que queden 3 o 4 años para su vencimiento, siempre que la curva permanezca invertida.

Las curvas del bono del Tesoro se normalizarán, siempre lo han hecho. Históricamente, las curvas invertidas han sido breves; la mayor duración registrada para 2/10s fue de 21 meses, de agosto de 1978 a abril de 1980.i La curva invertida actual 2/10 comenzó el 5 de julio de 2022 y alcanzó su punto más marcado de -107 pb el 8 de marzo de 2023 antes de revertir bruscamente su curso para terminar el trimestre en -55 pb. El catalizador más probable de un ascenso en la curva de rendimiento es un ciclo de relajación de la Reserva Federal y una disminución en la tasa de fondos federales. La mera anticipación de una pausa en el ciclo de alzas podría bastar para que el mercado iniciara el proceso de vuelta a una curva más normalizada para los bonos del Tesoro.

La demanda de crédito con grado de inversión se ha mantenido fuerte a principios de año. Según fuentes compiladas por Wells Fargo, los fondos con grado de inversión registraron $62,100 millones de entradas en lo que va del año hasta el 15 de marzo. Hemos observado esta demanda y el impacto asociado en los precios en el mercado primario, en particular, de los grandes compradores institucionales. En nuestro caso, el período de inversión para una cuenta nueva es de 8 a 10 semanas en promedio. En el caso de las cuentas nuevas, históricamente hemos sido muy consistentes en buscar oportunidades atractivas en el mercado primario, de modo que se podría esperar que entre el 30 % y el 35 % de la cartera estuviera compuesta por nuevas emisiones. Las cuentas más antiguas también podrían comprar nuevas emisiones ocasionalmente, a medida que reciben ingresos por cupones y se acumula efectivo al punto de que la cuenta está lista para realizar una compra.
Repasemos la mecánica de lo que observamos en la actualidad en el mercado primario:
Una empresa y la banca de inversión, en un mercado normalizado con una demanda equilibrada, podrían estar dispuestos a pagar lo que llamamos una “concesión por nueva emisión” a los inversores para incentivarlos a comprar un bono recién emitido. Por ejemplo, si una empresa tiene un bono en circulación a 9 años que se negocia con un diferencial de 100/10 años, sería totalmente razonable que un inversor esperara que le pagaran 115/10 años para compensar la duración adicional, así como alguna otra compensación en forma de diferencial para incentivarlo a comprar el nuevo bono. Las concesiones por nuevas emisiones cambian con frecuencia y se basan en la dinámica del mercado, como la situación de la economía, las cuestiones geopolíticas, la demanda global de crédito, así como las características de la empresa emisora y la opinión generalizada sobre su solvencia crediticia. A veces, las concesiones por nuevas emisiones pueden ser muy atractivas y otras veces pueden ser fijas o incluso negativas.
A lo largo del primer trimestre, observamos con mucha frecuencia concesiones por nuevas emisiones fijas o negativas, por lo que los bonos secundarios de un emisor determinado resultaron más atractivos que los nuevos. En ocasiones, se debió a que los bonos secundarios eran una inversión oportunista en relación con los bonos nuevos, pero en otras se debió a que tanto los bonos secundarios como los nuevos estaban valorados de manera razonable o sobrevalorados según nuestro análisis. El razonamiento para comprar un bono a 10 años que ofrece menos rendimiento que un bono a 8 años puede parecer poco sensato, pero la lógica reside en cómo consideramos las limitaciones impuestas a los inversores en el mercado de bonos corporativos. Los bonos son finitos, se negocian en el mercado extrabursátil (no en bolsa) y son menos líquidos que las acciones. Hay un problema importante al que puede enfrentarse de vez en cuando un interesado en comprar un bono: ¿qué pasa si no hay quien esté dispuesto a vender? Para complicar más aún al comprador de nuestro ejemplo, ¿qué sucede si dispone de mucho dinero en efectivo que necesita invertir? Este es el fenómeno que estamos observando actualmente; compradores muy grandes que están dispuestos a “pagar bien” para que el dinero rinda. El comprador grande no puede salir y comprar $10-$50 millones del bono secundario porque, sencillamente, no hay suficientes vendedores. En cambio, el comprador grande debe pagar una prima para que su dinero rinda y pagar demasiado (en nuestra opinión) por un bono en el mercado primario. Esto no es un problema para CAM y destaca una de nuestras ventajas comparativas. Como administrador boutique, aún somos lo bastante pequeños como para poder operar con libertad y comprar lo que necesitamos de forma oportunista para cubrir las cuentas de los clientes. Si nos dan la opción de comprar un bono más corto con un rendimiento más alto que un bono más largo del mismo emisor, compraremos el corto siempre y cuando den los números desde el punto de vista económico. Aunque es probable que el bono más reciente tenga un cupón más alto porque su precio se basa en una tasa del Tesoro más alta que el bono a 8 años, cuyo precio se fijó hace dos, el cupón por sí solo no lo es todo. El diferencial y el rendimiento por duración es la verdadera clave para generar rentabilidad total, no el cupón. El siguiente es un ejemplo real que observamos a principios de febrero de este año:

El nuevo bono procedía de un emisor que tenemos en alta estima y una empresa en la que actualmente invertimos para cuentas de clientes (nota: no mencionamos el nombre de la empresa porque no se trata de una recomendación para comprar o vender un título-valor específico). El precio inicial de la nueva emisión era de +170 pb/10 años, un nivel que consideramos atractivo dada la solvencia del emisor y su valor relativo en el mercado en aquel momento, pero ese precio era solo un punto de partida. En el caso de las emisiones nuevas, el precio inicial cambia en respuesta a la solidez de la demanda y es un proceso muy fluido que se produce en unas pocas horas. En este caso particular, hubiéramos estado dispuestos a comprar el nuevo bono a un diferencial de +160 pb o superior, pero dada la fuerte demanda de compradores, el sindicato logró mover el precio a +143 pb, momento en el que dejamos de participar. Por lo tanto, en este escenario, dada la posibilidad de comprar el nuevo bono y el bono secundario, sin duda elegiríamos el bono secundario por varias razones. El bono secundario ofrecía 2 pb más de rendimiento, requería una inversión inicial de $14 menos por su precio con descuento, y su vencimiento era 29 meses menor que el del nuevo bono, con un rendimiento significativamente mayor por duración. Resulta que, en este ejemplo, decidimos no comprar el bono secundario porque consideramos que estaba muy valorado en ese momento y no era una oportunidad para invertir el capital de nuestros clientes. Si el bono se hubiera negociado con un diferencial de +150, lo hubiéramos comprado. Este es solo un ejemplo de nuestra disciplina de inversión, en cómo abordamos las decisiones que tomamos para los clientes a diario. Esperamos que esto sea útil para explicar algunas de las dinámicas que hemos estado viendo en el mercado para comenzar el año y cómo encaramos la administración de riesgos y las oportunidades para las cuentas de clientes.

¿Qué hará la Reserva Federal?

Sabemos que la Reserva Federal no puede aumentar su tasa de referencia monetaria para siempre. Ya hemos visto las consecuencias de este ciclo de alzas sin precedentes, como las grietas que han aparecido en algunos rincones de la banca, y creemos que cada vez es más evidente que la política monetaria está empezando a frenar la economía. A finales del primer trimestre de 2023, los futuros de fondos federales preveían un alza en las tasas de +25 bp en la reunión de mayo y un 43 % de probabilidades de un alza de +25 bp en la reunión de junio. Quizá lo más sorprendente sea que los futuros también preveían tres recortes en la tasa de interés de referencia en los tres últimos meses del año. Desde entonces hemos recibido un magro informe de ofertas de empleo en la mañana del 4 de abril que mostró que la demanda laboral y las ofertas de empleo se han enfriado en EE. UU. con una caída de 10 millones por primera vez desde mayo de 2021.ii El próximo gran dato será el informe de empleo de marzo, que se publicará el 7 de abril. Creemos que la Reserva Federal seguirá guiándose por los datos, sobre todo en lo que respecta al empleo. Si el mercado laboral se enfría de forma significativa, el actual ciclo de alzas podría haber alcanzado ya su punto álgido. Si el mercado laboral lo resiste, prevemos una o dos alzas más y posiblemente más si es necesario. En la actualidad, nos resulta difícil prever recortes en 2023 y creemos que lo más probable es una pausa de varios meses.

Seguimos creyendo que la Reserva Federal no tiene muchas opciones: tiene que endurecer demasiado las condiciones o durante demasiado tiempo, lo que seguramente conducirá a una recesión. Predecir el momento o la profundidad de cualquier recesión es difícil, por lo que consideramos más productivo centrarnos en los riesgos que podemos medir y controlar mejor dentro de nuestra cartera, y el riesgo de crédito es la variable en la que podemos ejercer mayor influencia. Creemos que estamos bien equipados para administrar y evaluar el riesgo crediticio de las carteras de clientes gracias a nuestro equipo de gran experiencia. En general, una recesión no es buena para los activos de riesgo, pero no es una sentencia de muerte para el crédito con grado de inversión. Estas empresas tienen grado de inversión por una razón, y si hemos hecho nuestro trabajo y hemos surtido la cartera de forma adecuada, creemos que se desempeñará bien con independencia del entorno económico. Buscamos empresas que presenten modelos de negocio resilientes y equipos de dirección muy competentes, así como con gran capacidad financiera y margen de maniobra. Creemos que el crédito con grado de inversión podrá superar a la mayoría de los activos de riesgo si acabamos en un escenario de recesión impulsado por la Reserva Federal.

El tiempo sigue avanzando

El crédito se inicia con viento a favor en 2023, pero aún queda mucho por hacer para saldar los rendimientos negativos de 2022. Afortunadamente, el tiempo es el mejor aliado de los inversores en bonos. Los bonos tienen un vencimiento establecido y los que cotizan con descuento se acercarán a la par con el paso del tiempo. El tiempo también les da a los inversores la oportunidad de obtener ingresos por cupones. Creemos que el futuro es prometedor para los inversores en bonos a largo plazo. Los riesgos persisten, sin duda, y estamos particularmente preocupados por la situación geopolítica. Tampoco podemos dejar de preguntarnos qué nos resta aún conocer en cuanto a la velocidad con la que la Reserva Federal ha aumentado la tasa de referencia. Seguiremos trabajando sin descanso para usted y para el resto de nuestros clientes, haciendo todo lo posible para obtener una rentabilidad superior ajustada al riesgo. Gracias por su continuo interés y por su confianza en nosotros como administradores.

Esta información solo tiene el propósito de dar a conocer las estrategias de inversión identificadas por Cincinnati Asset Management. Las opiniones y estimaciones ofrecidas están basadas en nuestro criterio y están sujetas a cambios sin previo aviso, al igual que las declaraciones sobre las tendencias del mercado financiero, que dependen de las condiciones actuales del mercado. Este material no tiene como objetivo ser una oferta ni una solicitud para comprar, mantener ni vender instrumentos financieros. Los valores de renta fija pueden ser vulnerables a las tasas de interés vigentes. Cuando las tasas aumentan, el valor suele disminuir. El rendimiento pasado no es garantía de resultados futuros. El rendimiento bruto de la tarifa de asesoramiento no refleja la deducción de las tarifas de asesoramiento de inversión. Nuestras tarifas de asesoramiento se comunican en el Formulario ADV Parte 2A. En general, las cuentas administradas mediante programas de firmas de corretaje incluyen tarifas adicionales. Los rendimientos se calculan mensualmente en dólares estadounidenses e incluyen la reinversión de dividendos e intereses. El índice no está administrado y no considera las tarifas de la cuenta, los gastos y los costos de transacción. Se muestra con fines comparativos y se basa en información generalmente disponible al público tomada de fuentes que se consideran confiables. No se hace ninguna afirmación sobre su precisión o integridad. En nuestro sitio web se encuentran disponibles las divulgaciones adicionales sobre los riesgos materiales y los beneficios potenciales de invertir en bonos corporativos: https://www.cambonds.com/disclosure-statements/.

 

La información proporcionada en este informe no debe considerarse una recomendación para comprar o vender ningún valor en particular. No hay garantía de que los valores que se tratan en este documento permanecerán en la cartera de una cuenta en el momento en que reciba este informe o que los valores vendidos no hayan sido vueltos a comprar. Los valores de los que se habla no representan la cartera completa de una cuenta y, en conjunto, pueden representar solo un pequeño porcentaje de las tenencias de cartera de una cuenta. No debe suponerse que las transacciones de valores o tenencias analizadas fueron o demostrarán ser rentables, o que las decisiones de inversión que tomemos en el futuro serán rentables o igualarán el rendimiento de la inversión de los valores discutidos en este documento.

i Reserva Federal de St. Louis, 2022, “10-Year Treasury Constant Maturity Minus 2-Year Treasury Constant Maturity”
ii Wells Fargo Securities, 16 de marzo de 2023, “Credit Flows | Supply & Demand: 3/9-3/15”
iii Bloomberg, 4 de abril de 2023, “US Job Openings Fall Below 10 Million for First Time Since 2021”

09 Apr 2021

2021 Q1 Investment Grade Quarterly

It was a challenging first quarter for corporate bonds as rising interest rates were a headwind for performance across the fixed income universe. Investment grade credit spreads were a bright spot, having shown resiliency during the quarter, but tighter spreads could not overcome volatile interest rates. The option adjusted spread (OAS) on the Bloomberg Barclays US Corporate Bond Index compressed 5 basis points during the quarter, opening at 96 and closing at 91. It was only a little more than a year ago when the global pandemic had roiled markets, sending the spread on the index all the way out to 373. The tone has improved substantially since last March and spreads are now tighter than their narrowest levels of last year when the index opened 2020 at an OAS of 93.

Higher Treasuries were the negative driver of performance for credit during the quarter. The 10yr Treasury opened 2021 at 0.91% and was volatile along the way before closing the quarter at 1.74%. This 83 basis point move in the 10yr over such a short time period was too much to overcome for coupon income and spread compression. The Corporate Index posted a total return of -4.65% during the first quarter. This compares to CAM’s gross quarterly total return of -3.50%.

First Quarter Recap

Excess return presents a picture of the performance of credit spread and coupon income, excluding the impact of Treasuries. The sector that posted the best excess returns to start the year was Energy. This should come as no surprise as oil prices were up over 20% during the quarter and Energy was the worst performing sector for the full year 2020. It was ripe for a rally. Packaging was the lone major industry to post a negative excess return during the quarter of just -0.05%. This is in line with the larger theme in the market currently that has made more cyclical sectors in vogue as the pandemic recovery trade was in full force. This has left some more stable and defensive industries as out of favor at the moment. The recovery trade theme has also led to outperformance for riskier BBB-rated credit versus higher quality A-rated credit. BBB-rated credit outperformed A-rated during the quarter to the tune of 85 basis points on a gross total return basis – a significant number to be sure. We will see, as the year plays out, if this reach for yield can sustain its outperformance over a longer time horizon. We believe that some of the move in cyclicals has been overdone and as a result the portfolio is positioned with a more defensive posture than the index.

Investing in a High Rate World

After the corporate index posted a cumulative gain of almost 25% over the previous two years through the end of 2020, most of it on the back of tighter spreads and lower rates, it is fair to expect a pull-back at some point. The current quarter’s performance can almost entirely be defined by Treasuries reclaiming some of the ground that they gave up during the pandemic. Recall that the 10yr Treasury closed as high as 1.88% in the early months of 2020 before falling as low as 0.51% in August of last year and now closing the first quarter of 2021 at 1.74%. But there is more to the story than a higher 10yr Treasury and a closer look at the Treasury curve reveals some more interesting details, particularly the spread between the 5yr and 10yr Treasury. As you can see from the below chart, the 5/10 Treasury curve has steepened substantially over the course of the past year.

CAM consistently positions the portfolio in maturities generally ranging from 5-10 years and there are several reasons that we have structured our investment grade program around this intermediate positioning. First, our customers will know precisely what they are going to get from us in that they can see the exact quantity of each individual company bond that they own and they can count on us to be positioned within a certain maturity band. This allows the client to more effectively manage other portions of their asset allocation accordingly without worrying that we might engage in interest rate speculation or a wholesale change in strategy. The second reason we have settled on this maturity positioning is that it exposes clients to less interest rate risk than the benchmark and far less interest rate risk than if we went further out the curve by purchasing 30yr bonds. We are good at credit work; building customized portfolios, populating them with individual credits based on our analysis of their credit worthiness and reaping those rewards over a 3-5 year time horizon. Our intermediate positioning allows our returns to be driven by credit spread compression and not by our ability to accurately time interest rates. The third and perhaps most important reason that we settled on this intermediate positioning as part of our core strategy has to do with the steepness of both the Treasury curve and the corporate credit curve from 5 to 10 years. Over long time periods this tends to be the steepest portion of both of those curves relative to the curve as a whole.i To provide some context, at quarter end, the 10/30 Treasury curve was 67 basis points; that is, the compensation afforded for selling a 10yr Treasury and buying a 30 year Treasury was an additional 67 basis points in yield, or 3.35bps of yield per year for each year of the 20 year maturity extension. If we compare this to the 5/10 curve at quarter end when that particular curve was 80 basis points, or 16 basis points of extra yield for each of the 5 years between 5 and 10yrs, you can see that the 5/10 curve is significantly more steep than the 10/30 curve. You are extracting much more compensation from selling a 5yr bond and extending to 10yrs than you would get from selling a 10yr bond and moving all the way out to 30 years. Not only is an investor being much better compensated for each additional year from 5/10 but they are taking substantially less interest rate risk by limiting their extension to just 10 years in lieu of 30 years. As you can see from the above chart, the 5/10 curve flattened all the way down to 7 basis points during the worst of the pandemic-related market dislocation but it has since steadily risen, and is now at its highest level since the 3rd quarter of 2014.

To say we are excited about this newfound steepness in the Treasury curve would be an understatement –we are ecstatic, as it allows us to do two things. First, it allows seasoned accounts (those who have been with us at least 3-5 years) to extract attractive compensation by selling their 5yr corporate bonds and using those proceeds to purchase bonds that mature in 8 to 10 years. For those accounts that have been with us for less time or for new accounts it provides an attractive entry point for new money that can take advantage of the roll-down afforded by the steep yield curve. The roll-down to which we refer is the aforementioned 16 basis points per year that a bond was receiving at quarter end for each year that it declined in maturity.
But the bond math doesn’t stop there. On top of the Treasury curve is another curve, the corporate credit curve. Since corporate bonds trade with spread on top of Treasuries they also have their own curve that varies with steepness over time. The shape of the corporate credit curve is more consistently upward sloping than the Treasury curve. Treasury curves, at times, can flatten or even invert. The corporate credit curve on the other hand is almost always upward sloping.ii It only rarely flattens or inverts on a temporary basis during times of extreme market stress or dislocation, and we are happy to take advantage of those fleeting opportunities when they do appear.

As you can see from the chart above, the yield curve for investment grade corporates shares some of the current qualities of the Treasury curve with a pronounced steepness in the belly of the curve and a much flatter slope beyond 10 years. The beauty of these curves is that, even in the unlikely event that Treasuries and credit spreads stay static over the next 5 years we can still generate a positive total return from coupon income and capital appreciation through the roll-down of bonds currently held. Additionally, the steepness afforded by curves currently offers us some protection from rising rates and/or wider credit spreads.

Our proven strategy seeks to provide clients with a transparent separately managed account that provides a return that is good as or better than the Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Corporate Index. We also want to get them there with less volatility through diminished interest rate risk and credit risk along the way. One of the reasons we outperformed the index by 115 basis points during the first quarter was by virtue of our intermediate positioning. Our portfolio ended the quarter with duration of 6.30 while the index had duration of 8.48.

Looking Ahead

Preservation of capital is at the forefront of our strategy so we hate to post a quarter with a negative total return and we know that our investors feel the same way. Thankfully, given the way that bond math works, and especially for investment grade rated credit, such impairments are typically temporary in nature. Take for example a bond that is trading at a discount to par –as time passes and it gets closer to its maturity date, its price gets closer to par, all else being equal. Discount bonds eventually recapture their value as time goes by – it is just a function of the way that the math works. As regular readers know, even in good times after we post a great quarter, we are loath to focus on such short term performance. Investment grade rated corporate credit is at its best when it is treated as a strategic long term allocation that is part of a well-diversified portfolio. In fact, one of the reasons to own this asset class is to aid in that goal of achieving diversification due to its low correlation with other asset classes and its often negative correlation with equities. Bottom line, if an investor is looking for income, diversification and capital preservation as well as a chance to keep up with and/or beat inflation, then investment grade credit is among the ideal asset classes for helping to achieve those goals. After a volatile first quarter we have a guarded optimism and believe there is an attractive opportunity set for our investment philosophy going forward. We thank you for your continued interest and for placing your trust and confidence in us to manage your money.

This information is intended solely to report on investment strategies identified by Cincinnati Asset Management. Opinions and estimates offered constitute our judgment and are subject to change without notice, as are statements of financial market trends, which are based on current market conditions. This material is not intended as an offer or solicitation to buy, hold or sell any financial instrument. Fixed income securities may be sensitive to prevailing interest rates. When rates rise the value generally declines. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Gross of advisory fee performance does not reflect the deduction of investment advisory fees. Our advisory fees are disclosed in Form ADV Part 2A. Accounts managed through brokerage firm programs usually will include additional fees. Returns are calculated monthly in U.S. dollars and include reinvestment of dividends and interest. The index is unmanaged and does not take into account fees, expenses, and transaction costs. It is shown for comparative purposes and is based on information generally available to the public from sources believed to be reliable. No representation is made to its accuracy or completeness.

i Federal Reserve Board, June 2006 “The U.S. Treasury Yield Curve: 1961 to the Present”
ii Robert C. Merton, May 1974 “On The Pricing of Corporate Debt: The Risk Structure of Interest Rates

09 Apr 2021

2021 Q1 High Yield Quarterly

In the first quarter of 2021, the Bloomberg Barclays US Corporate High Yield Index (“Index”) return was 0.85% while the CAM High Yield Composite gross total return was -0.01%. The S&P 500 stock index return was 6.17% (including dividends reinvested) over the same period. The 10 year US Treasury rate (“10 year”) had a steady upward move as the rate finished at 1.74%, up 0.83% from the beginning of the quarter. During the quarter, the Index option adjusted spread (“OAS”) tightened 50 basis points moving from 360 basis points to 310 basis points. Each quality segment of the High Yield Market participated in the spread tightening as BB rated securities tightened 38 basis points, B rated securities tightened 46 basis points, and CCC rated securities tightened 110 basis points. Take a look at the chart below from Bloomberg to see a visual of the spread moves in the Index over the past five years. The graph illustrates the speed of the spread move in both directions during 2020 and the continuation of lower spreads in 2021.

The Transportation, Energy, and Other Industrial sectors were the best performers during the quarter, posting returns of 4.44%, 3.60%, and 2.08%, respectively. On the other hand, Utilities, Banking, and Insurance were the worst performing sectors, posting returns of -1.75%, -0.43%, and -0.39%, respectively. At the industry level, oil field services, retail REITs, refining, and airlines all posted the best returns. The oil field services industry posted the highest return (13.00%). The lowest performing industries during the quarter were health insurance, railroads, supermarkets, and wirelines. The health insurance industry posted the lowest return (-1.34%).

The energy sector performance has picked up where last year left off and has continued to be quite positive to start 2021. As can be seen in the chart to the left, the price of crude has continued its upward trajectory during the quarter. Recently, OPEC+ members agreed to start increasing oil production. They are making a bet on a continued economic rebound by deciding to add more than 2 million barrels a day as summer approaches. “Even in those sectors that were badly hit such as airline travel, there are signs of meaningful improvement,” said Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman.i

During the first quarter, the high yield primary market posted $162.0 billion in issuance. Many companies continued to take advantage of the open new issue market, and the quarter now holds the top spot for the busiest quarter on record. Issuance within Consumer Discretionary was the strongest with approximately 26% of the total during the quarter. Consumer Discretionary has now had the most issuance for the last four consecutive quarters. Over that time frame, Consumer Discretionary has accounted for approximately 25% of the issuance. Communications has accounted for approximately 13% and good enough for second place.

The Federal Reserve maintained the Target Rate to an upper bound of 0.25% at both the January and March meetings. The chart to the left gives a snapshot of how the Fed’s projections have changed for three economic data points. While broad market consensus is also quite upbeat on the economic outlook, market participants have pushed up the 10-year Treasury yield more than triple off the 0.51% low seen in August 2020. In the face of this, the Fed is content to keep a very accommodative posture. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said in a recent interview, “So, we will — very, very gradually, over time, and with great transparency, when the economy has all but fully recovered — we will be pulling back the support that we provided during emergency times.”ii

Intermediate Treasuries increased 83 basis points over the quarter, as the 10-year Treasury yield was at 0.91% on December 31st, and 1.74% at the end of the first quarter. The 5-year Treasury increased 58 basis points over the quarter, moving from 0.36% on December 31st, to 0.94% at the end of the first quarter. Intermediate term yields more often reflect GDP and expectations for future economic growth and inflation rather than actions taken by the FOMC to adjust the Target Rate. The revised fourth quarter GDP print was 4.3% (quarter over quarter annualized rate). Looking forward, the current consensus view of economists suggests a GDP for 2021 around 5.7% with inflation expectations around 2.4%.iii

Being a more conservative asset manager, Cincinnati Asset Management Inc. does not buy CCC and lower rated securities. This policy generally served our clients well in 2020. However, the lowest rated segment of the market outperformed in the first quarter of 2021. Thus, our higher quality orientation was not optimal during the period. As a result and noted above, our High Yield Composite gross total return did underperform the Index over the first quarter measurement period. With the market staying positive during the first quarter, our cash position remained a drag on overall performance. Additionally, our credit selections within the consumer non-cyclical sector were a drag on performance. Within the energy sector, our higher quality selections were considered a negative to relative performance as the riskiest segment of the sector performed extraordinarily well. Benefiting our performance was our underweight in the utilities sector. Further, our overweight in the transportation sector, and our credit selections within that sector were a positive.

The Bloomberg Barclays US Corporate High Yield Index ended the first quarter with a yield of 4.23%. This yield is up from the new record low of 3.89% reached in mid-February of this year. The market yield is an average that is barbelled by the CCC-rated cohort yielding 6.55% and a BB rated slice yielding 3.40%. Equity volatility, as measured by the Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index (“VIX”), had an average of 23 over the quarter.

For context, the average was 15 over the course of 2019 and 29 for 2020. The first quarter had 4 bond issuers default on their debt. The trailing twelve month default rate was 4.80% with the energy sector accounting for a large amount of the default volume. Excluding the energy sector from the calculation drops the trailing twelve month default rate to 2.55%.iv The current 4.80% default rate is relative to the 3.35%, 6.19%, 5.80%, 6.17% default rates for the first, second, third, and fourth quarters of 2020, respectively. Pre-Covid, fundamentals of high yield companies had been mostly good and with the strong issuance in each of the last four quarters, companies have been doing all they can to bolster their balance sheets. From a technical view, fund flows did turn negative in February and March, and the year-to-date outflow stands at $4.6 billion.v High yield certainly had some volatility in 2020; however, the market did ultimately provide a positive total return. We are of the belief that for clients that have an investment horizon over a complete market cycle, high yield deserves to be considered as part of the portfolio allocation.

The 2020 High Yield Market was definitely one for the history books. The actions by the Treasury and the Federal Reserve no doubt helped to put in a bottom and provide a backstop for the capital markets to begin functioning amid the Covid pandemic. Generally speaking, the market has recovered. Additionally, the economy is projected to have solid growth over the course of 2021 given the trillions of stimulus that has been put into the system. The vaccine rollout continues and according to the CDC, 32% of the US population has received at least one shot. President Biden recently laid out a $2.25 trillion US infrastructure proposal. Headlines of political wrangling are likely to be front and center this year and perhaps provide some market opportunities. Clearly, it is important that we exercise discipline and selectivity in our credit choices moving forward. We are very much on the lookout for any pitfalls as well as opportunities for our clients. We will continue to carefully monitor the market to evaluate that the given compensation for the perceived level of risk remains appropriate on a security by security basis. It is important to focus on credit research and identify bonds of corporations that can withstand economic headwinds and also enjoy improved credit metrics in a stable to improving economy. As always, we will continue our search for value and adjust positions as we uncover compelling situations. Finally, we are very grateful for the trust placed in our team to manage your capital through such a historic time.

This information is intended solely to report on investment strategies identified by Cincinnati Asset Management. Opinions and estimates offered constitute our judgment and are subject to change without notice, as are statements of financial market trends, which are based on current market conditions. This material is not intended as an offer or solicitation to buy, hold or sell any financial instrument. Fixed income securities may be sensitive to prevailing interest rates. When rates rise the value generally declines. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Gross of advisory fee performance does not reflect the deduction of investment advisory fees. Our advisory fees are disclosed in Form ADV Part 2A. Accounts managed through brokerage firm programs usually will include additional fees. Returns are calculated monthly in U.S. dollars and include reinvestment of dividends and interest. The index is unmanaged and does not take into account fees, expenses, and transaction costs. It is shown for comparative purposes and is based on information generally available to the public from sources believed to be reliable. No representation is made to its accuracy or completeness.

i Bloomberg April 1, 2021: OPEC+ to Ease Oil Output Cuts in Cautious Bet on Recovery
ii Bloomberg March 25, 2021: Powell Says Fed Won’t Stop Until US ‘All But Fully Recovered’

iii Bloomberg April 1, 2021: Economic Forecasts (ECFC)
iv JP Morgan April 1,, 2021: “Default Monitor”
v Wells Fargo April 2, 2021: “Credit Flows”

20 Mar 2020

Corporate Bond Market Update

It was a difficult week for the Corporate Bond market as fear and uncertainty related to COVID-19, a precipitous drop in oil, and an inter-meeting rate cut by the U.S. Federal Reserve drove Treasuries lower and spreads wider.

When we look at the Investment Grade market the option adjusted spread on the Bloomberg Barclays US Corporate Index was 122 at month-end February 2020, while on Friday, March 13, 2020 it closed at 216. This was one of the quickest and most volatile spread moves in the history of the investment grade credit market.

(Source: Bloomberg)

There was a corresponding move lower in Treasuries across the board – this helped to mitigate some, but not all, of the impact of widening spreads.

(Source: Bloomberg)

To provide some context on the performance of the investment grade credit market, through the end of the day on Friday March 13, the Bloomberg Barclays US Corporate Index posted a YTD gross total return of -1.88%. Comparatively, the S&P 500 YTD gross total return was -15.73% (Source: Bloomberg). While we are not happy to see negative returns in the corporate bond market, the asset class has performed as expected during a period of extreme volatility, and it has held up materially better than equities and other risk assets.

CAM does not provide intra-monthly performance figures, however as of March 13, 2020 we note that CAM’s portfolio has the following defensive characteristics relative to the Index. CAM is significantly underweight in BBB rated corporate credit relative to the Index. CAM caps its exposure to BBB-rated credit at 30% while the Corporate Index’s exposure was 49.14% as of March 13. Interestingly, the BBB concentration of the Index is down slightly YTD but that is merely because some large issuers, like Kraft-Heinz, were downgraded from BBB to junk status – an example of the type of investment CAM seeks to avoid through its bottom up research process. The second and third major factors that will impact CAM’s performance relative to the Index relate to individual credit selection and avoidance of certain industries which have been particularly hard hit by COVID-19, such as Leisure. To be sure, we have individual credits within our portfolio that have been affected by both COVID-19 and the decline in the oil market and we are constantly monitoring and evaluating those situations through active management of the portfolio.

It was also an exceptionally difficult week for the High Yield market with a one-two punch of fear and uncertainty related to COVID-19 as well as a complete flush of the oil market due to the lack of an OPEC agreement. The option adjusted spread on the Bloomberg Barclays US Corporate High Yield Index spiked above 700 for the first time since the commodity fueled rout of 2016. The Index YTD gross total return was -8.84% through the end of Friday March 13 (Source: Bloomberg).

(Source: Bloomberg)

Again, CAM does not provide intra-monthly performance figures, but our High Yield portfolio has the following defensive characteristics relative to the Index. CAM had over 10% of its portfolio in cash at the start of the current sell-off in February and CAM is underweight, or zero weight, some sectors of the market that were particularly hard hit by this sell off, such as Oil Field services. To be sure, our portfolio’s gross total return was negative as of February 29, 2020, and subsequent drawdown has been widespread. We have a number of credits that have experienced increased volatility and as always we are closely monitoring those situations as well as all the credits in our portfolio. Currently, we are comfortable with the individual credit metrics of our holdings and we believe the overall portfolio is well positioned should the economy enter a recessionary environment. Our cash balance also affords us the ability to be opportunistic on behalf of our clients as those situations arise.

The High Yield market can be extremely volatile in times of stress. It is not as deep or as liquid as the Investment Grade credit market and that is one of the reasons that spreads can gap wider so quickly. The growth of ETFs has exacerbated this problem as they are often forced to sell in the face of investor liquidations. We would caution that during times like these it can be difficult to achieve favorable pricing when looking to sell a high yield security; and depending on your risk tolerance it can often be a good opportunity to buy. We ask that our investors continue to trust that we will professionally manage your portfolios with a long-term objective and through the extent of the current downturn to the best of our ability.

We believe it is important in times like these to remind our investors of our investment philosophy and process at CAM. While volatile markets present challenges as well as opportunities, the way we manage money remains very consistent. We are conservative investors of domestic corporate bonds with a “bottom-up value” investment discipline, stressing first and foremost the preservation of capital, with an important secondary focus on total return. We seek to deliver these results by identifying quality businesses that we are comfortable owning in all markets.

We take the responsibility of managing your money very seriously and we will always do our best to perform that task to the highest standard of care. We sympathize with our clients in uncertain times such as these and we hope that you and your families stay safe and healthy.

This information is intended solely to report on investment strategies identified by Cincinnati Asset Management. Opinions and estimates offered constitute our judgment and are subject to change without notice, as are statements of financial market trends, which are based on current market conditions. Fixed income securities may be sensitive to prevailing interest rates. When rates rise the value generally declines. High Yield bonds present risks specific to below investment grade fixed income securities. Valuation may result in uncertainties and greater volatility, less liquidity, widening credit spreads, and a lack of price transparency. Investments in fixed income securities may be affected by changes in the creditworthiness of the issuer and are subject to nonpayment of principal and interest. The value of fixed income securities also may decline because of real or perceived concerns about the issuer’s ability to make principal and interest payments. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Gross of advisory fee performance does not reflect the deduction of investment advisory fees. Our advisory fees are disclosed in Form ADV Part 2A. Accounts managed through brokerage firm programs usually will include additional fees. Returns are calculated monthly in U.S. dollars and include reinvestment of dividends and interest. The Index is unmanaged and does not take into account fees, expenses, and transaction costs. It is shown for comparative purposes and is based on information generally available to the public from sources believed to be reliable. No representation is made to its accuracy or completeness.

The information provided in this report should not be considered a recommendation to purchase or sell any particular security. There is no assurance that any securities discussed herein will remain in an account’s portfolio at the time you receive this report or that securities sold have not been repurchased. The securities discussed do not represent an account’s entire portfolio and in the aggregate may represent only a small percentage of an account’s portfolio holdings. It should not be assumed that any of the securities transactions or holdings discussed were or will prove to be profitable, or that the investment decisions we make in the future will be profitable or will equal the investment performance of the securities discussed herein.

16 Mar 2018

High Yield Weekly 03/16/2018

Fund Flows & Issuance: According to a Wells Fargo report, flows week to date were -$0.2 billion and year to date flows stand at -$17.4 billion. New issuance for the week was $8.9 billion and year to date HY is at $49.2 billion, which is -25% over the same period last year.

 

(Bloomberg) High Yield Market Highlights

  • Junk bonds showed some signs of exhaustion as yields rose for several consecutive sessions, with CCC yields rising to a 12-mo. high; as stocks tumbled and the VIX rose for three consecutive sessions. CCC yields have been rising steadily in 7 of last 10 sessions.
  • Junk investors, though weary and wary, embraced CCC credits and made a beeline for them in the primary market, with two deals for ~$1b pricing
  • NVA Holdings, CCC credit, got orders more than 3x the size of the offering and priced through talk, suggesting risk appetite was robust
  • Guitar Center, CCC-rated and a distressed issuer, was welcomed by investors and priced at the middle of talk
  • CCCs still beat BBs and single-Bs with positive YTD returns of about 0.8%, showing investor appetite for risk was still alive
  • BBs continued to be the worst performer with negative YTD returns of about 1.3%
  • Junk bond market was also stronger qualitatively, with issuers rated B3 and lower declining in numbers; Moody’s notes that issuers rated B3 and lower dropped to 13%, below the long-term average of 15% for the 6th straight month

 

(International Financing Review) Sprint launches near US$4bn spectrum bond

  • Telecom carrier Sprint raised almost US$4bn from a financing backed by its spectrum, a deal some analysts say will further boost its liquidity and help better prepare for a potentially tough year ahead.
  • The deal launched roughly in line with price talk
  • “Spectrum is its most viable assets, and that’s why it is borrowing against it,” an investor said.
  • The cost of financing for Sprint, rated junk itself, was also cheaper than available in the high-yield market. Sprint’s US$1.5bn junk bond sale last month – the company’s first in three years – came with yields of 7.625% for eight-year debt.
  • “We are encouraged by Sprint’s efforts to diversify its financing sources and use its under-utilized spectrum to secure more attractive pricing,” CreditSights analysts said.
  • They predict a bumpy year ahead for the company, earning that Sprint could burn through cash as it ramps up network capex and focuses on moving customers to leasing plans. That comes as the company faces some significant debt maturities.
  • The analysts note the company has amended its outstanding spectrum-backed note indenture to allow for the issuance of spectrum-backed notes in excess of the US$7bn that will be reached after its latest ABS.
  • “We would not be surprised to see the carrier explore new secured financing alternatives to bolster its cash position,” said CreditSights.

 

(Fierce Cable) Is SoftBank back on the Charter hunt? Reportedly buys 5% of cable operator’s stock

  • Japan’s SoftBank has laid the groundwork for a $100 billion takeover of Charter Communications by its U.S. mobile operator Sprint Communications, the London Times reported over the weekend.
  • The Times said that led by billionaire Masayoshi Son, SoftBank has quietly purchased 5% of Charter stock in recent weeks.
  • Neither Charter nor Sprint has commented on this report.
  • Last summer, Charter rebuffed a SoftBank merger offer of $540 a share at a time when the cable operator’s stock was trading in the low $400 range. Liberty Media kingpin John Malone, Charter’s biggest shareholder, was reported to be in favor of the deal. Also enthusiastic was the Newhouse family, who became influential Charter shareholders when the cable company bought Bright House Networks.
  • Charter’s management team, led by Chairman and CEO Tom Rutledge, has been resistant of a takeover, while still keen on actualizing the value of fully digested integrations of 2016 acquisitions Bright House and Time Warner Cable.

 

(PR Newswire) Huntsman Acquires Demilec, a Leading North American Spray Polyurethane Foam Insulation Manufacturer

  • Demilec has annual revenues of approximately $170 million and two manufacturing facilities located in Arlington, Texas and Boisbriand, Quebec where they produce a full suite of MDI based SPF formulations which they market directly to applicators as well as through distributors. Demilec specializes in both closed cell and open cell formulations, with a focus on products with renewable and recyclable content that are eco-friendly, bio-preferred and reduce energy consumption through highly efficient insulation properties.
  • Under terms of the agreement, Huntsman will pay $350 million in an all-cash transaction, funded from available liquidity. Based upon full year 2018 EBITDA estimates, this represents a purchase price multiple of approximately 11.5x or 7.5x, pro forma for synergies. The transaction is expected to close by the end of second quarter 2018.
  • Peter Huntsman, Chairman, President and CEO commented: “This bolt-on acquisition is a great fit to our core strategy to move downstream. The integration of Demilec into our Polyurethanes business offers significant synergies and delivers substantially higher and very stable margins by pulling through large amounts of upstream polymeric MDI into specialized spray foam systems. This integrated business will have greater than 25% EBITDA margins and double digit growth.”