Fund Flows & Issuance: According to Lipper, for the week ended June 7, investment grade funds posted a net inflow of $3.731bn. Per Lipper data, the year-to-date net inflow into investment grade funds was $61.689bn. Per Bloomberg, investment grade corporate issuance for the week topped $18bn. Through the week, YTD total corporate bond issuance was $665.12bn, which is up ~3% from 2016.
Bloomberg Barclays US IG Corporate Bond Index OAS started the day on Friday 113:
- 2017 wide/tight: 122/111
- 2016 wide/tight: 215 (a new wide since Jan. 2012)/122
- 2015 wide/tight: 171/122
- 2014 wide/tight: 137/97
- All time wide/tight back to 1989: 555 (Dec. 2008)/54 (March 1997)
(WSJ) Amazon Fights Wal-Mart for Low-Income Shoppers
- Amazon.com Inc. is dropping its membership price for low-income shoppers, going after a Wal-Mart Stores Inc. stronghold.
- The online retailer giant said Tuesday that it will offer a nearly 20% segment of the U.S. population—people who obtain government assistance with cards typically used for food stamps—a $5.99 monthly Prime membership, less than the $10.99 a month or $99 annual plan for other consumers.
- The new Prime offering takes direct aim at Wal-Mart, which counts on shoppers who receive government assistance for a large percentage of sales. Wal-Mart generated about $13 billion in sales last year from shoppers using the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, accounting for around 18% of the money spent through the program nationwide.
- Those customers also spend additional income while in Wal-Mart stores.
- Amazon will require cards typically used for food stamps as an initial measure to determine participant eligibility, although they can’t yet be widely used for shopping online.
(Bloomberg) U.S. Natural Gas Heads for Weekly Gain on Hot Weather Outlook
- Natural gas for July delivery +1.8c to $3.046 at 9:23am (Friday) on Nymex, setting pace for first weekly gain in four weeks.
- Temperatures may above normal from West Coast to Great Lakes region June 19-23: the Weather Company
- “A little bit of hot weather seems to be providing some support,” says Gene McGillian, manager of market research at Tradition Energy
- The fact “that we’re basically getting ready to enter the prime months of summer cooling season might be putting some hesitation on the minds of the sellers”
(Bloomberg) From ‘King Arthur’ to ‘Mummy,’ Summer Is a Bummer in Hollywood
- Even “Wonder Woman” may not be able to save the summer for Hollywood.
- The acclaimed superhero movie is only the second big hit in an otherwise dismal season for the film industry, which typically counts on May to early September for about 40 percent of the year’s revenue. A rash of box-office disappointments, starting with “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” and continuing through “Baywatch,” is likely to repeat this weekend, whenUniversal Pictures’ “The Mummy” lurches into theaters.
- Even if the rest of this season’s films perform in line with estimates, summer 2017 is likely to just edge out 2014 — the worst summer for blockbuster films since 1976, by some measures, according to Doug Creutz, a Cowen & Co.
- As some blockbuster films fall short, the market for smaller films is also getting squeezed, Creutz said. “Baywatch,” “Snatched” and “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul” underperformed his estimates by more than 50 percent. Concentration at the box office, with fewer movies sharing a majority of the spoils, has intensified.
- The best solution for the industry is probably just to make better movies, said Wunderlich’s Harrigan. “The movie business is not a zero-sum game,” Harrigan said. “If you get good movies the box office will improve.”
(Bloomberg Intelligence) Chubb’s 9x Fixed-Charge Coverage Is Above Allstate, Hartford
- Chubb and Travelers’ superior fixed-charge coverage, at over 9x, stems from their steady profitability and moderate leverage. Their coverage ratios are about two percentage points above Allstate and Hartford, which operate at a mid-7x level.
- Allstate’s leverage is higher, at 23%, and its results haven’t been as steady as Chubb’s. Hartford’s profitability has suffered from weak results in its personal auto line, which it’s revamping. AIG incurred a loss in 2016 as it boosted reserves repeatedly.
- Peer Comparison: Chubb’s leverage and fixed charge coverage ratios are in-line with Travelers and superior to the other three insurers’. Chubb is rated A3/A/A, similar to Travelers (A2/A/A+) and Allstate (A3/BBB+). AIG is rated Baa1/BBB+/BBB+ negative, and Hartford is rated Baa2/BBB+.
(Bloomberg BNA) Dow-DuPont Merger Inches Toward Finish Line With Australian OK
- DuPont Co. and the Dow Chemical Co. are one step closer to closing their $78.5 billion merger after Australia cleared the deal on June 8, but they still face three important hurdles.
- The deal is still being weighed by a few major merger review authorities — the U.S. Justice Department, India, and Canada. The tie-up is the first stage in a planned division of the combined Dow-DuPont business into three separate companies in agriculture, materials science, and specialty products.
- Under the companies’ agreement, the deadline to complete the merger is Aug. 31. Dow’s Director of Public Affairs, Rachelle Schikorra, confirmed to Bloomberg BNA that companies expect the merger is on track to close in August with the intended spin-offs completed 18 months thereafter.
- The deadline for public comment in India was April 10. Following public comment, the Competition Commission of India as a standard operating procedure asks for information from the parties and must generally reach a final determination 45 days after it receives the companies’ submissions.
- Because the process in the U.S. and Canada is confidential, information on where the companies stand in those merger reviews is unavailable. Canada’s antitrust agency publicly announces its merger decisions on a monthly basis only, but a spokeswoman confirmed that the bureau is still reviewing the merger.