Category: Insight

07 Apr 2017
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CAM Investment Grade Weekly Insights

Fund Flows & Issuance: According to Lipper, for the week ended April 5th, investment grade funds posted a net inflow of $4.3bn. Per Lipper data, the year-to-date net inflow into investment grade funds was $43.39bn through April 5th. Per Bloomberg, investment grade corporate issuance through Thursday was $20.1bn with 19 issuers pricing 37 tranches on the week. Investment grade corporate issuance is slightly outpacing 2016 with 2017 corporate issuance up 3% year-to-date. Volume is expected to be lower next week with Easter/Passover holidays.

(Bloomberg) Comcast Jumps Into Wireless With $45 Service Undercutting Rivals

  • Comcast Corp. unveiled a wireless service that offers unlimited data on Verizon Communications Inc.’s network for less than nearly every other competitor and said the venture will be profitable once it reaches hundreds of thousands of subscribers.
  • While the pricing plans have some strings attached and are available only to Comcast’s internet and TV customers, the initial $45 unlimited offer is the lowest among the top U.S. wireless carriers and is likely to further escalate a price war that has ravaged the industry. Shares of the cable giant rose the most in more than two months.
  • “The more products you add, the lower the churn,” said Greg Butz, president of Comcast Mobile, using the industry term for monthly subscriber defections.
  • Comcast’s entry into wireless comes at a crucial moment for the cable giant. AT&T has moved aggressively onto its turf, offering low-cost TV packages that can be watched on-the-go and don’t count toward monthly data limits. And advances in wireless 5G technology could make surfing the web on phones as fast and reliable as high-speed internet connections at home — a service that has been a major growth area for Comcast.
  • Depending on its success in wireless, Comcast could get more ambitious and pursue an acquisition of a wireless carrier such as T-Mobile US Inc., according to some analysts. For now, Comcast says that selling wireless through Verizon’s network is the long-term strategy.
    • Unlimited Plans by Carrier (Source: Bloomberg)

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(Bloomberg) Monsanto Gets Boost as Takeover by Bayer Looks More Likely

  • Monsanto Co., the world’s largest seed company, is getting a boost from increased optimism that Bayer’s $66 billion takeover of the company will go through, as similarly huge transactions between competitors inch toward the finish line.
  • Shares of St. Louis-based Monsanto climbed for a third straight day on Wednesday.
  • The Bayer-Monsanto combination has more than a 90 percent likelihood of completion, analysts at Citi Research said in a report Wednesday. That outlook comes after Dow Chemical Co.’s $77 billion bid to merge with DuPont Co. cleared antitrust hurdles in the European Union last week, and China National Chemical Corp. just received a green light on its $43 billion acquisition of Swiss pesticide maker Syngenta from the U.S. and the European Union.
  • Monsanto Chief Executive Officer Hugh Grant reiterated Wednesday in a call with analysts that a finished deal is expected by year-end. Bayer is planning to place regulatory filings with the European Commission this quarter, and there’s progress with a second round of inquiries with the U.S. Justice Department, he said. Those procedures signal that the deal is progressing, said William Selesky, an analyst at Argus Research Corp. in New York.
  • Monsanto’s shares are also up on speculation that the agricultural economy may be better than initially thought. The company on Wednesday reported record fiscal second-quarter earnings amid signs that U.S. farmers are preparing to sow record acreage with soybeans this year.

(Bloomberg) Mexican Beer Boom Sends Shares of Constellation Brands Soaring

  • The growing U.S. thirst for imported Mexican beer help send Constellation Brands Inc.’s stock on its biggest rally in three years, even as simmering border tensions threaten to undercut demand.
  • The company, which sells Corona, Modelo and other top Mexican brands,posted a 17 percent gain in beer sales last quarter. Constellation’s Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits, which it acquired for $1 billion in 2015, also helped boost revenue.
  • In the wake of the growth, Constellation delivered an annual forecast that beat analysts’ estimates. It also raised its quarterly dividend by about 30 percent. The bullish outlook helped allay concerns that the Trump administration will hurt Mexican importers by imposing a border tax or ripping up the North American Free Trade Agreement. Because of its heavy reliance on Mexican beer, Constellation has been seen as one of the most vulnerable companies to policy changes.
  • “Our beer business continues to be a powerhouse for growth,” Chief Executive Officer Rob Sands said in a statement. Constellation was the “No. 1 growth contributor to the U.S. beer industry for the year,” he said.
  • The company’s wine and spirit sales aren’t growing as quickly as beer. They climbed 6 percent last quarter, helped by the acquisition of the Meiomi and Prisoner brands.

(Bloomberg, Company Press Release) QVC Group to Become Asset-Backed Stock

  • Liberty Interactive Corporation (“Liberty Interactive”) (Nasdaq: QVCA, QVCB, LVNTA, LVNTB) and General Communication, Inc. (“GCI”) (Nasdaq: GNCMA) today announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement (the “Agreement”) whereby Liberty Interactive will acquire GCI through a reorganization in which certain Liberty Ventures Group (“Liberty Ventures”) assets and liabilities will be contributed to GCI in exchange for a controlling interest in GCI.
  • “We are pleased to announce this transaction with GCI,” said Greg Maffei, Liberty Interactive President and CEO. “GCI is the largest communications provider in Alaska, generates solid cash flow with upside potential and is a strong fit with the largest businesses in Liberty Ventures. This transaction will ultimately create a standalone Liberty Ventures, reducing the tracking stock discount and enabling an asset-backed QVC Group.”
  • Liberty Interactive believes an asset-backed QVC Group will provide the following benefits:
    • Establish leading pure play discovery based retail and eCommerce company
      • Liberty Interactive expected to be renamed QVC Group, Inc.
    • Make QVC Group eligible for possible inclusion in stock indices through elimination of tracking stock structure
    • Reduce the tracking stock discount
    • Increase near-term and annual liquidity through reattribution (discussed below) of approximately $329 million(1) of cash and approximately $130 million annual free cash flow from tax savings related to exchangeable bonds that will grow
      • Cash can be used for investments, stock repurchases and debt reduction
    • Establish a strong currency that will be a more effective tool for management compensation and retention and for potential future acquisitions
    • Maintain strong ability and liquidity to service all debt

(Bloomberg) Plenty of Beauty in U.S. Jobs Data Beneath Ugly Headline Number

  • For the March U.S. employment report, with its ugly headline payrolls number, it’s what’s inside that counts.
  • While the gain of 98,000 jobs in a survey of businesses and government agencies was the weakest since May and below all analysts’ forecasts, many accompanying details showed a solid labor market. The jobless rate, derived from a separate survey of households, fell to the lowest in almost a decade even as workforce participation was unchanged, while a measure of underemployment reached a fresh post-recession low, boding well for further wage increases.
  • The March data from the Labor Department on Friday also were challenged by weather anomalies — a storm in the Northeast during the survey week and more seasonable temperatures after two warmer months — that had economists bracing for at least some slowdown in payrolls from a strong start to the year. The reassuring figures elsewhere in the report keep the Federal Reserve on track to continue plans for two more interest-rate increases this year as the labor market continues to tighten.
  • The two-month revisions to payrolls subtracted 38,000 jobs, leaving the average so far in 2017 at 178,000. That’s in line with the 187,000 monthly average for all of last year.
  • Whether the tight job market triggers the long-awaited wage gains in this almost-eight-year-old economic expansion remains a puzzle. Average hourly earnings increased 2.7 percent in March from a year earlier, just a touch above the average since the start of 2016. That, more than weaker-than-expected employment, might merit more attention in the months ahead.

(Bloomberg) Oil Climbs After U.S. Strike Against Syria Roils Global Markets

  • Crude headed for its second weekly gain after briefly spiking in reaction to the first military strike undertaken by President Donald Trump’s administration.
  • Futures surged more than 2 percent to the highest in a month in early trading Friday after a U.S. cruise-missile strike against Syria. Gains eased after a weak jobs report fueled concern about the strength of the U.S. economy. Russia’sdeal with OPEC to cut crude supply hasn’t delivered as much as expected, according to Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich. OPEC ministers will gather in Vienna on May 25 to decide whether to extend the accord.
31 Mar 2017

CAM Investment Grade Weekly Insights

Fund Flows & Issuance: According to Lipper, for the week ended March 29th, investment grade funds posted a net inflow of $3.966bn. Per Lipper data, the year-to-date net inflow into investment grade funds was $39.090bn through March 29th. Per Barclays, investment grade corporate issuance through Thursday was $21.25bn. For the month of March, $128.57bn in investment grade deals priced. This compares to $128.58bn in March of 2016. Q12017 was the largest IG corporate issuance quarter on record at $397bn. Dealers on the street are expecting issuance to abate somewhat in the April, which stands to reason given earnings blackout periods.

(Bloomberg) DuPont, FMC to Swap Crop Protection and Health & Nutrition Units

  • DuPont agrees divest its Crop Protection business, including certain R&D capabilities, and to buy FMC’s Health & Nutrition business.
    • Deal includes $1.6b to DD to reflect difference in value ($1.2b cash, $425m working capital)
    • Sale satisfies DD’s EC commitments regarding Dow merger
    • FMC buying DD’s Cereal Broadleaf Herbicides, Chewing Insecticides portfolios, including Rynaxypyr, Cyazypyr, Indoxacarb; assets being divested generated 2016 rev. ~$1.4b
    • DD buying FMC’s Health & Nutrition business, which generated 2016 rev. >$700m from 2 main segments: texturants as food ingredients, pharmaceutical excipients
    • FMC sees immediately accretive to adj. EPS on closing; will update outlook on earnings call scheduled for May 2
    • DD/FMC deal close due in 4Q, subject to DD/DOW merger, regulatory approvals
    • DOW/DD extend outside date of deal to Aug. 31; see deal closing between Aug. 1 and Sept. 1
    • Material Science Company now expected to be first spin-off
    • Evercore, Goldman advising DD
    • Dyal, Citi advising FMC; Citi provided financing advice, committed debt facilities

(Bloomberg) Union Pacific Rattles Its Cash Coffer With $1 Billion Debt Issue

  • Union Pacific’s $500 million debt offering of 10-year and $500 million of 30-year bonds has the use of proceeds earmarked for general corporate purposes, including refinancing maturities, working capital and buybacks. The rail operator has about $500 million of maturities in 2017. The incremental $500 million of debt may put adjusted debt-to-Ebitda at about 1.8x, assuming the company meets consensus 2017 Ebitda. This level of leverage is below its 2x target and in-line with single A rated peer Canadian National.

(Bloomberg) Oil Set for Biggest Weekly Gain in 2017 as OPEC Eyes Extension

  • Oil headed for its biggest weekly increase this year amid speculation OPEC will extend its deal to curb output and ease a global glut.
  • Futures are up 4.7 percent in New York this week, climbing back above $50 a barrel after Kuwait Oil Minister Issam Almarzooq reiterated support for prolonging a six-month deal to trim supply past June. Still, prices are down 6.5 percent this quarter, their biggest three-month loss since late 2015, as U.S. crude stockpiles continue to pile up.
  • The latest comments from Kuwait’s oil minister are bolstering confidence in OPEC’s commitment to drain swollen stockpiles ahead of the group’s next formal ministerial meeting on May 25 in Vienna. Five producers from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries joined with non-member Oman on Sunday to voice support for an extension. Optimism over the cuts had wavered recently amid a surge in U.S. supply, with the nation boosting crude output last week to the highest in more than a year.
  • “OPEC is fully aware that running down the crude overhang will take more than six months, so a rollover of the deal is still the most likely outcome,” said Amrita Sen, chief oil analyst at Energy Aspects Ltd. “Overall balances are heading in the right direction, but only crude stock draws will help prices break out of the current range-bound trading.”
31 Mar 2017

CAM High Yield Weekly Insights

Fund Flows & Issuance: According to Wells Fargo, flows week to date were $0.5 billion and year to date flows stand at -$2.7 billion. New issuance for the week was $2.4 billion and year to date HY is at $77.8 billion.

(Bloomberg) Huntsman Eyes Merger After Spinoff of Titanium-Dioxide Unit

  • Huntsman Corp. is considering a major merger after the planned spinoff of its paint-pigments business, Chairman Jon Huntsman Sr. said.
  • “We are looking seriously at the possibility of doing a merger or doing something that would double or triple our revenues,” Huntsman, 79, said Tuesday after speaking at a breakfast during an AFPM chemical conference in San Antonio. The company wants to “expand our horizons” to increase shareholder value, he said.
  • Seven or eight specialty chemical companies would make suitable business partners with Huntsman, some of which have already been in contact about a potential merger, the chairman said without naming them. Huntsman’s annual revenue will drop to $4.5 billion to $5 billion and profit margins will be higher after the midyear spinoff of the titanium-dioxide unit, which will be named Venator, Huntsman said.

(Business Wire) B&G Foods Announces Public Offering of Senior Notes

  • B&G Foods intends to use the proceeds of the offering to repay all of the outstanding borrowings under B&G Foods’ revolving credit facility and all of the outstanding amounts due in respect of B&G Foods’ tranche A term loans, and to pay related fees and expenses. B&G Foods intends to use any remaining net proceeds for general corporate purposes, which could include, among other things, repayment of other long term debt or possible acquisitions.
  • The $500.0 million aggregate principal amount of senior notes due 2025 priced at $100 with a 5.25% coupon

(Reuters) Trump, conservatives try to put aside bitterness to cut tax deal

  • Raw feelings and mistrust could pose an obstacle to President Donald Trump and hard-line conservative lawmakers in his Republican Party as they seek to rebound from defeat on healthcare legislation by launching into an overhaul of the U.S. tax code.
  • Trump has accused the Freedom Caucus lawmakers of snatching a “defeat from the jaws of victory” with their rejection of the White House-backed healthcare bill to replace President Barack Obama’s 2010 healthcare reform bill.
  • In interviews with 10 of the roughly three dozen House Freedom Caucus members, the lawmakers said they were eager to put aside tensions over the healthcare debacle and seek common ground on tax reform.
  • But there is no consensus, even within the conservative faction, on details of a tax-reform bill, with some members open to discussing ideas such as the border tax plan supported by House leaders and others opposed to it.

(CNBC) Homebuilders struggle to fill jobs

  • Homes in Denver take about two months longer than normal to build, and, in some cases, contractors are doubling their wages just to keep workers from skipping to the next site.
  • “The labor shortage has basically grown and accelerated. It’s the top challenge in the building industry right now,” said Rob Dietz, chief economist with the National Association of Home Builders.
  • “Because the building industry is highly decentralized you do see poaching. There are situations where you can recruit a worker, and they can work for you for a quarter or two, and then they’re working for another subcontractor down the road,” Dietz said.
  • Wages in the residential building industry are growing at twice the rate of wages in the overall economy. Labor is the top concern among the nation’s builders, according to an NAHB survey, and worry over its cost and availability is growing.

(Multichannel News) Spectrum Auction Ends with a Total Take of $19.8B

  • “Today’s conclusion of the assignment phase formally brings all bidding activity in this multi-phase auction to a close,” said Gary Epstein, chair of the FCC’s Incentive Auction Task Force. “The incentive auction has required unprecedented commitment from bidders as well as Commission staff, who from the moment that broadcasters made their initial commitments to the final bids processed this afternoon have worked each day to assist bidders and ensure a fair and successful auction. We are excited to share the results of the reverse and forward auctions and extensive information about the post-auction transition in the next few weeks.”
  • That is when the FCC will announce which stations and forward auction bidders got what and start the clock on the 39-month repack of TV stations and turning over the licenses for the reclaimed broadcast spectrum—84 MHz minus 14 MHz for unlicensed wireless—to those forward auction bidders.
  • The day after the mid-April release of the Auction Closing and Channel Reassignment Public Notice, which will identify the winning TV station bidders, the FCC will release “complete forward auction round-by-round results, including bidder identities.”
30 Mar 2017

Q1 2017 High Yield Commentary

The High Yield Market returned 2.70% during the first quarter of 2017, continuing, although at a slower pace, the robust 2016 performance (+17.13%) which was the best since the 2009 recovery performance of 58.21% (Bloomberg Barclays Indices). As was the case for all of 2016, Q1 performance was characterized by outsized performance of the weakest credit sectors within the Index, i.e., the CCC and lower rated credits, which currently account for approximately 15% of the high yield universe. These lowest rated credits returned slightly less than 5% during Q1 (they returned over 30% during 2016). In fact, if we were to exclude the CCC rated credit sub‐sector, the Index would have posted a 1.44% return, lower than our gross return performance of 2.00%. It is important to note that during 2008 and 2015, that lowest rated credit subsector recorded negative returns of 49.53% and 12.11%, respectively. We highlight these returns to point out that with outsized positive returns come outsized possible losses, and the volatility of that credit subsector may not be appropriate for many clients’ risk profile and tolerance levels.

Unlike calendar 2016’s performance that was, in great measure, attributable to the robust recovery of the Energy Sector, Q1 witnessed positive performance by all Sectors, led by the Utility Sector, which was up 4.37%. That Sector accounts for less than 2.76% of the Index, so its performance had a positive impact on the Index performance, but clearly not the significant impact that Energy played during 2016 (The Energy Sector was up over 37% during 2016 and comprised approximately 15% of the Index at year end.) In fact, Energy’s 3.0% return approximated the overall Index as oil traded in a $50‐$55 range for most of the quarter, although it did drop to a low of $47.34 late in the quarter.

The performance of the least credit‐worthy within the high yield universe represented the continuing “search for yield” that we have witnessed for several years as interest rates on Treasury bonds, in general, fell to their lowest levels in a decade during July ‘16 and then increased to a level at year end (2.45%) that was only marginally higher than where it began the year. After the FOMC increased the Federal Funds Target Rate by 25bps in December, the 10‐year Treasury yield declined from 2.60% mid‐December ’16 to 2.39% at March 31. (This search for yield has also been observed in the investment grade universe where the lowest credit rated debt has outperformed the investment grade index as a whole.) The result of this “search” has been the tightening of spreads, i.e. the premium yield of bonds relative to the risk free Treasury rate. At year‐end 2015, the premium yield on BB, B, and CCC rated bonds was 417, 654, and 1,351 basis points, respectively. We ended 2016 with those premia at 270, 382, and 807, respectively; and by March 31, spreads had tightened even more – to 252, 375, and 692, respectively. So, while Treasury rates over the first 3 months of 2017 declined, the premium demanded by the investor for “risk compensation” continued to fall considerably. We make note of this only to inform the investor of the market dynamics surrounding both yield movement (up and down) and premia movement: both impact bond prices.

The demand for yield was met by $98.7BB in new issuance during Q1 2017; total 2016 issuance was $286BB. The Energy and Metal & Mining Sectors were the largest issuers, accounting for 13% and 10% of total volume, respectively. It is interesting to note that the several years prior to 2015, 17‐19% of new issuance came from the lowest rated credits, and that percentage declined dramatically during 2015‐2016, to just over 10% in 2016. However, Q1 2017 saw that percentage increase to almost 16%.

Given that Cincinnati Asset Management does not buy CCC rated securities, it is easily understood that our performance trailed that of the Index for 1st Quarter (2.00% gross total return vs. 2.70%). We have remained cautious in our investment strategy, maintaining higher than normal cash balances as we become more selective (higher credit quality) in our security purchases. Given the market performance, these cash balances served as a drag on our performance as well.

Further addressing the issue of performance by credit sub-sector, the following table highlights the impact of the performance of the several credit sub‐sectors in the high yield universe on the aggregate high yield performance:

With respect to 2017, we continue to be cautious. Many potentially positive factors could favorably impact corporations in the high yield space (changes in the tax code, relaxed and fewer regulations, etc.); however, the impact of changes in trade agreements and the health of the global economy need to be carefully monitored. Defaults, excluding Energy, have remained lower than the long‐term average default rate – a positive sign with respect to the current health of the asset category. On the other hand, the “shrinking” spreads (i.e., premium to Treasury bonds) is of concern given that the “search for yield” may have resulted in an overvalued market. While CCC spreads have tightened considerably, BB and B spreads remain modestly tighter on the year, although they had tightened considerably during 2016. The tightening of spreads implies the expectation of a robust recovery in corporate performance. In this uncertain environment, it is important to focus on credit research and to attempt to buy bonds of corporations that we believe can withstand economic headwinds and can enjoy improved credit metrics in a stable to improving economy.

Cincinnati Asset Management’s High Yield Strategy remains conservatively positioned. The construction of the portfolio is driven by our bottom‐up analysis and our restriction from CCC‐rated securities adds an additional level of conservatism.

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.

24 Mar 2017

CAM High Yield Weekly Insights

Fund Flows & Issuance: According to Wells Fargo, flows week to date were -$0.9 billion and year to date flows stand at -$3.3 billion. New issuance for the week was $9.2 billion and year to date HY is at $75.4 billion.

(CNBC) Housing Market is Quite Strong Across the United States

  • Consumer sentiment in both the economy and the housing market is rising and that is translating into strong demand from homebuyers. The trouble is, the supply of homes for sale is incredibly weak and getting weaker. What is for sale is selling fast.
  • The typical home that sold last month went under contract in 60 days, eight days faster than one year ago, according to a new report from Redfin, a real estate brokerage. Nearly 15 percent of all homes listed for sale in February were off the market within two weeks, up from 11.7 percent last year. This is the fastest February market Redfin has recorded since it began tracking in 2010.

(Business Wire) B&G Foods Announces CFO Resigns to Pursue Other Opportunities

  • Thomas P. Crimmins, the Company’s Chief Financial Officer, has resigned to pursue other opportunities. Mr. Crimmins’ decision was not the result of any dispute or disagreement with the Company on any matter relating to the Company’s accounting practices or financial statements.
  • The Company has initiated a search for a new Chief Financial Officer and until one is appointed, Amy Chiovari, currently the Company’s Corporate Controller, will serve as Interim Chief Financial Officer.
  • “On behalf of our entire team, I want to thank Tom for his contributions to B&G Foods’ success over the past two years and wish him continued success in his future endeavors,” said Robert C. Cantwell, President and Chief Executive Officer of B&G Foods. “I am also pleased to report Amy Chiovari will serve as Interim Chief Financial Officer. Amy has been an invaluable member of the B&G Foods family since joining the Company in 1996. Amy has served in various capacities within our accounting and finance department and over the years has been responsible for many functions, including, corporate accounting, corporate finance, financial reporting, treasury, tax and internal control over financial reporting.

(The American Institute of Architects) Architecture Billings Index rebounds into positive territory

  • Business conditions projected to solidify moving into the spring and summer
  • The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the February ABI score was 50.7, up from a score of 49.5 in the previous month. This score reflects a minor increase in design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 61.5, up from a reading of 60.0 the previous month, while the new design contracts index climbed from 52.1 to 54.7.
  • “The sluggish start to the year in architecture firm billings should give way to stronger design activity as the year progresses,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “New project inquiries have been very strong through the first two months of the year, and in February new design contracts at architecture firms posted their largest monthly gain in over two years.”

(Bloomberg) Ally Adds Fuel to Avis’ and Hertz’ Fire on Residual Credit Risk

  • Ally Financial Inc. warned profit may grow less than anticipated only a few months ago, the latest sign that automakers’ heavy discounting and aggressive use of leasing to boost sales has created a supply glut hurting lenders and rental-car companies.
  • Ally Financial’s comments that used-car prices were down 7% in 1Q vs. its forecast of 5% adds fuel to the fire on the topic of residual values. Issuers such as Avis and Hertz, as well as automotive OEMs such as Ford and GM, are exposed to potential higher depreciation and writedowns if asset values decline faster than previously anticipated.
  • The National Automobile Dealers Association’s Used Car Guide index declined 3.8 percent in February, the eighth consecutive drop and the steepest since November 2008.

(Bloomberg) Trump Digs in Heels on Gambit for GOP to Vote on Health Bill

  • The Trump administration doubled down on its demand that House Republican leaders hold a vote Friday on their embattled health-care bill without any changes and with lingering uncertainty about whether they have enough support to pass the measure.
  • If the high-stakes gamble works and the House manages to pass the Obamacare replacement bill, it will be an important win for Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan who have formed an uneasy alliance to repeal former President Barack Obama’s signature health-care law.
  • If the measure is blocked, it will be an embarrassing setback that casts doubt on Trump and Ryan’s ability to deliver on their ambitious agenda, including taxes and infrastructure, both of which are being closely watched by Wall Street.
  • “He wants to do this and he wants to do it now,” White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said of Trump on ABC Friday morning. “He also wants to move on to things like tax reform, infrastructure, restructuring the government, putting people back to work. He’s not willing to wait the several months an ordinary president would.”
  • The Trump administration made a last-minute deal with House conservatives to change the bill — by removing Obamacare’s requirements that certain essential benefits be covered by insurance — in an effort to win over holdouts, who had forced GOP leaders to delay a vote originally scheduled for Thursday.
  • Then Trump aides, including senior strategist Steve Bannon, went to Capitol Hill to deliver a message in person to House leaders and the Republican caucus that the president has run out of patience: Trump wanted a vote Friday, win or lose, even if that means leaving Obamacare in place.
17 Mar 2017

CAM Investment Grade Weekly Insights

Fund Flows & Issuance: According to Lipper, for the week ended March 15th, investment grade funds posted a net inflow of $451.607m. Per Lipper data, the year-to-date net inflow into investment grade funds is just shy of $30bn through March 15th. Per Wells Fargo, investment grade corporate issuance through Thursday was 25.4bn, up +14% y/y.

(Bloomberg) Fed Notches a Win in Central Bank Battle With Markets on Outlook

  • That’s the takeaway from the past three weeks, which have shown the Federal Reserve regaining command of the outlook for U.S. monetary policy. Traders have moved more into step with Fed officials’ dot-plot chart for projected interest-rate increases — a big contrast from last year, when the market called the central bank out on its plans for four rate hikes.
  • The difference can be most clearly seen with the Fed, which began 2016 with an expectation to raise its benchmark four times. Futures traders gave that outcome just 14 percent odds, and proved right to do so — in the end, there was only the one quarter-point move. This year began with the market again disbelieving the Fed and its outlook for three hikes, placing minority odds on that many moves. Now, the probability is around 57 percent.
  • “The latest market reactions to the FOMC decision seems to suggest that there is a great deal of credibility in the r* being low,” said Stephen Jen, the London-based chief executive of hedge fund Eurizon SLJ Capital Ltd., using the economics term for equilibrium interest rate.
  • For now at least, the mood music is shifting the way of central banks as policy makers adapt to the improving world economy. That offers officials a respite to work on the next big challenge: whether and how to shrink their gargantuan balance sheets.

(8-K Filing) VEPCO brings a new 10yr bond

  • On March 13, 2017, Virginia Electric and Power Company (the Company) entered into an underwriting agreement (the Underwriting Agreement) with Deutsche Bank Securities Inc., J.P. Morgan Securities LLC and Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, as Representatives for the underwriters named in the Underwriting Agreement, for the sale of $750,000,000 aggregate principal amount of the Company’s 2017 Series A 3.50% Senior Notes due 2027. Such Senior Notes, which are designated the 2017 Series A 3.50% Senior Notes due 2027, are Senior Debt Securities that were registered by the Company pursuant to a registration statement on Form S-3 under Rule 415 under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, which registration statement became effective on December 19, 2014 (File No. 333-201153). A copy of the Underwriting Agreement, including exhibits thereto, is filed as Exhibit 1.1 to this Form 8-K.

(Bloomberg) Oil Set for Weekly Gain as Saudis Say Willing to Extend Curbs

  • Nationwide crude inventories decline from record weekly level
  • Saudi Arabia says output cuts may be extended beyond June
  • Oil last week broke below $50 a barrel for the first time since December as rising U.S. output countered production curbs by members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and other nations. While markets are still struggling to clear a surge in supply from OPEC at the end of 2016, compliance with the cuts remains above 90 percent, the International Energy Agency said.
  • “The recovery at this stage remains fragile,” said Ole Sloth Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank A/S in Copenhagen. “The market managed to find support at key levels following a small drop in U.S. crude inventories. We are very likely to see an extension to the current production-cut deal if the aim is to bring stocks down to the five-year average.”
10 Mar 2017

CAM Investment Grade Weekly Insights

Fund Flows & Issuance: According to Lipper, for the week ended March 8th, investment grade funds posted a net inflow of $3.482bn. Per Lipper data, the year-to-date net inflow into investment grade funds is $29.434bn through March 8th. Per Bloomberg, investment grade corporate issuance through Thursday was just over $50bn –that total will grow for the full week with at least two new deals still pending as of Friday morning. Year-to-date investment grade corporate issuance will finish the week at ~$330bn. Per Wells Fargo, 2017 investment grade issuance is outpacing 2016 issuance by +11%.

(Bloomberg, Press Release) Toll Brothers, Inc. Prices $300 Million of Senior Notes

  • The Notes have a coupon of 4.875% and will pay interest semi-annually on March 15 and September 15, commencing September 15, 2017.
  • The Company expects to use the net proceeds from the Offering for general corporate purposes, which may include repayment of indebtedness.

(Bloomberg, Moodys) Moody’s Upgrades Vulcan Materials to Investment Grade

  • Moody’s Investors Service (“Moody’s”) upgraded the senior unsecured debt ratings of Vulcan Materials Company (“Vulcan”) to Baa3 from Ba1. The rating outlook is stable.
  • The upgrade reflects continued improvement in Vulcan’s financial ratios resulting from debt reduction and improved operating performance. The company’s adjusted debt-to-EBITDA declined to 2.5x for the year-end 2016 from 2.8x at year-end 2015 and 3.7x at year-end 2014. Adjusted operating margins have also improved over the same periods, increasing to 19.5% from 17.3% and 11.4%, respectively. Moreover, the rating upgrade reflects Moody’s belief that Vulcan has the willingness and ability to defend its investment grade rating in a downturn.

(Bloomberg, Kepler Cheuvreux) BASF Likely to Acquire Agro Assets Divested Due to M&A: Kepler

  • Agro M&A to continue as Bayer/Monsanto and Dow/DuPont have to sell assets to obtain regulatory approval for their respective deals, Kepler Cheuvreux says in note.
    • Says BASF could approach regulatory bodies to express their interest in assets that are expected to be sold by Bayer and Dow/DuPont
    • Sumitomo could look to add to its agrochemical set-up
    • Private equity or generic firms such as FMC or Nufarm may also be interested
    • Bayer likely to divest their Liberty Link franchise, along with cotton and other selected seeds
    • Dow’s Mycogen seed assets likely to be put up for sale
    • This is a portfolio of corn, soya, sunflower, and canola with sales of $1.5b
    • Dow’s portfolio could sell for $7.5b or to 5x sales
    • Bayer’s Liberty Link alone may be worth up to EU4.8b
    • BASF is one of the top candidates for these “stranded” assets

(Bloomberg, Reuters) Bayer, Monsanto Said to Start $2.5b Asset Sales Next Week: Rtrs

  • Bayer and Monsanto plan to start selling assets worth ~$2.5b to get regulatory clearance for their merger, Reuters reports, citing unidentified people close to matter.
    • Bayer’s advisers plan to send information packages next week to possible buyers: Reuters
    • Bayer, Monsanto declined to comment to Reuters
    • NOTE: Feb. 23, Bayer/Monsanto Deal More Than 80% Likely to Close: Citi
10 Mar 2017

CAM High Yield Weekly Insights

Fund Flows & Issuance: According to Wells Fargo, flows week to date were -$2.7 billion and year to date flows stand at $5.2 billion. New issuance for the week was $16.7 billion and year to date HY is at $56.7 billion.

(The Hollywood Reporter) Regal CEO Backs Shortened Theatrical Windowing

  • “As long as we can find a solution that grows the overall pie, we think it could be good for the overall industry,” Amy Miles told an investors conference.
  • Miles confirmed discussions continue between major studios and exhibitors about possibly offering movies in a premium VOD window soon after their cinema run. She added any deal to emerge from those talks cannot eat into the existing theatrical business.

(Modern Healthcare) The battle begins as House Republicans release ACA repeal bill

  • Under pressure from conservatives and the business community, House Republicans have released a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act that ditches their previous proposal to tax high-value employer health plans.
  • The 123-page bill, dubbed the American Health Care Act, was released Monday night. It would replace the ACA’s income-based premium tax credits with fixed, age-based tax credits that generally would be smaller. It would end enhanced federal funding for states to expand Medicaid to low-income adults. And it would convert Medicaid from an open-ended entitlement to a program of capped, per-capita payments to the states.
  • But the bill would continue funding for the Medicaid expansion until 2020, and also keep the law’s premium subsidies through the insurance exchanges until 2020. That could set up a political battle over keeping or ending Obamacare coverage expansions just as the next presidential election campaign heats up.

(Company Filing) Service Corp. reaches settlement with the IRS

  • Service Corporation International reached an agreement in principle with the Internal Revenue Service to resolve the issues under audit with respect to tax years 1999 through 2005. In early March Service Corp received from the IRS Office of Appeals the fully executed Forms 870-AD, which, subject to finalization of computations, effectively settles the issues under audit for those years. As a result of this resolution, Service Corp anticipates paying approximately a net $40.0 million in tax and interest within the next few months and expects to fund this amount using available capacity under our bank credit facility. Furthermore, it is anticipated that the resolution of these tax audits will result in a reduction to current reserves for unrecognized tax benefits of approximately $100.0 million, and will result in a corresponding reduction in the 2017 tax expense.

(Bloomberg) Community Health Sells $2.2 Billion of Bonds Amid Debt Recovery

  • Community Health Systems sold $2.2 billion of secured bonds on Tuesday to refinance some of its $15 billion debt load.
  • Investor demand allowed the company to increase the size of its offering of 6.25 percent coupon six-year notes from a planned $1.75 billion. The bond deal is the company’s first since 2014 and comes after the hospital chain beat fourth-quarter earnings estimates and announced plans to divest more assets to lower its leverage.
  • The Franklin, Tennessee-based company will use proceeds to pay down a portion of its debt, which is starting to rebound after trading at deep discounts following two consecutive quarterly losses in 2016. It will repurchase $700 million of 5.125 percent bonds due in 2018 and repay a $1.023 billion term loan

(Transcript) Spectrum Brands CFO Doug Martin makes comments at Raymond James Conference

  • Now, we generate a lot of cash flow and we expect to generate a couple billion or more of operating cash flow over the next couple of years. And we have been, for the last couple of years, paying down debt. As we said, we would when we bought Global Auto Care.
  • But now we have more optionality, we can continue to do bolt-on acquisitions and every few years you’ll probably see us do a transformational acquisition like Global Auto Care or like HHI, and you’re going to expect that from us. But if we don’t find attractive prices for acquisitions, we’ll pass. We haven’t bought anything in two years, because prices have just been – they’ve been too expensive. So we passed on a lot of opportunities and instead given some of that back to shareholders.
  • And we’ve got a good track record of deleveraging after we do major acquisitions, and understand that there are limits to – self-imposed limits to the use of our balance sheet. And so, we’re willing to lever up as long as we have very clear line of sight to quickly delevering and integrating those acquired businesses.
  • Our acquisition priorities are across all categories except for appliances and batteries. Batteries is probably not really an opportunity globally and appliances and personal care are lower EBITDA margin businesses, and they also have the lowest barriers to entry. So we probably wouldn’t do much in a way of M&A in those categories.

(Bloomberg) ADP Says Companies in U.S. Hired the Most in Almost Three Years

  • Companies added the most workers in almost three years to U.S. payrolls in February on a surge in construction and manufacturing employment, data from the ADP Research Institute in Roseland, New Jersey, showed Wednesday.
  • Private payrolls climbed by 298,000 (forecast was 187,000), the most since April 2014, after a revised 261,000 gain in January
  • Goods-producing industries, which include manufacturers and builders, increased headcounts by 106,000, a record in data going back to 2002, after a 55,000 gain
03 Mar 2017

CAM High Yield Weekly Insights

Fund Flows & Issuance: According to Wells Fargo, flows week to date were $0.5 billion and year to date flows stand at $8 billion. New issuance for the week was $2.3 billion and year to date HY is at $40 billion.

(Reuters) Sinclair approaches Tribune Media about possible deal

  • A deal between Sinclair and Tribune Media, which have market capitalizations of $3.8 billion and $3.3 billion respectively, would combine two of the largest U.S. local TV station owners and face regulatory curbs on how many households they can reach
  • Analysts have said the broadcast industry hopes President Donald Trump will lift caps on ownership concentration, allowing it to compete for audiences and advertising dollars against Facebook Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google
  • The discussions between the companies are preliminary and there is no certainty they will lead to any deal, the sources said

(Business Wire) Frontier Communications Reports Financial Results

  • Dan McCarthy, President and CEO, stated, “During the quarter we made significant progress in positioning our company to deliver a better customer experience and improved financial performance, with greater financial flexibility. Our reorganization into separate Commercial and Consumer business units will result in a more customer-centric approach, while reducing expenses and enabling more efficient capital deployment.”
  • “Results for the fourth quarter were impacted by our intensified efforts to resolve acquired accounts in California, Texas and Florida that we have determined to be non-paying. This process is almost complete, and we expect to return to a normalized trend by the start of the second quarter. I am pleased that underlying CTF customer trends improved in Q4 and continue to improve in Q1.”

(Business Wire) Intelsat and OneWeb Announce Conditional Combination Agreement

  • Intelsat and OneWeb today announced that they have entered into a definitive combination agreement pursuant to which Intelsat and OneWeb will merge in a share-for-share transaction. Intelsat and SoftBank Group also entered into a definitive share purchase agreement pursuant to which SoftBank will invest $1.7 billion in newly issued common and preferred shares of the combined company
  • Both the merger and the SoftBank investment are subject to, among other conditions, successful completion of debt exchange offers to certain existing Intelsat bondholders as well as receipt of certain regulatory approvals

(Industrial Distribution) U.S. Oil Rig Count Now Above 600, Up 50% Year-Over-Year

  • The U.S. total active rig count made a small gain last week, adding three total. It was the sixth straight week the combined oil and gas rig total has increased. Friday’s rig count provided by oilfield services provider Baker Hughes, checked in at 754 — its highest since Nov. 20, 2015. The total is up by 50.2 percent from a year earlier, and up 86.6 percent since bottoming out at 404 in May 2016
  • The U.S. added five oil rigs last week, pushing its current mark to 602. It was the sixth straight week that the oil rig count has grown, and the 16th week in the past 17. The U.S. lost two gas rigs last week, marking just the second week of decline in the past 16. The active gas rig count of 151
  • Texas once again dominated the overall rig count gain last week, adding eight to a total of 386. That figure is up 67.1 percent year-over-year. Wyoming added one rig, Alaska and Louisiana each lost two and North Dakota lost one

(Business Wire) AES Corp. Reports Financial Results

  • Overall results reflected the impact from the devaluation in foreign currencies, lower electricity prices, certain gains that benefited 2015 results and higher non-cash impairment losses, partially offset by a lower effective tax rate
  • Consolidated Net Cash Provided by Operating Activities for full year 2016 was $2,884 million, an increase of $750 million compared to full year 2015. The increase was primarily driven by higher collections at the Company’s distribution businesses in Brazil, Eletropaulo and Sul, and the settlement of overdue receivables at Maritza in Bulgaria. These positive contributions were offset by lower margins across the SBUs, as well as the recovery of overdue receivables in the Dominican Republic in 2015, which benefited 2015 results. Full Year 2016 Proportional Free Cash Flow (a non-GAAP financial measure) increased $176 million to $1,417 million compared to full year 2015, primarily due to the same factors as Consolidated Net Cash Provided by Operating Activities
  • “We ended 2016 on a high note, achieving our guidance for all metrics, with cash flow coming in at the high end, and Adjusted EPS well within, our ranges. We also continued to make strides on our strategic objectives by completing 3 GW of construction projects, selling non-core assets and making further cost cuts and revenue enhancements,” said Andrés Gluski, AES President and Chief Executive Officer. “The recent purchase of sPower increases our long-term contracted, U.S. Dollar-denominated, renewable portfolio, which was one of our stated objectives for 2016.”
24 Feb 2017

CAM High Yield Weekly Insights

Fund Flows & Issuance: According to Wells Fargo, flows week to date were $0.8 billion and year to date flows stand at $7.4 billion. New issuance for the week was $1 billion and year to date HY is at $37.7 billion.

(RigZone) 2017 Offshore Spending Plan To Rival Shale Investment

  • For every dollar invested this year in North American shale plays, another dollar will be allocated for planned projects offshore, racking up spending of $70 billion in each sector, analysts at Rystad Energy said in a report
  • But not all analysts agree that offshore spending is in the midst of a surge. Terry Childs, director at Rigzone Data Services, said offshore investment declined between 30 percent and 35 percent in 2016. For the current year, offshore CAPEX is also expected to decline, but not at the same steep rate
  • Marc Edwards, CEO at Diamond Offshore, said deepwater operators understand that for now, it’s difficult to compete with the unconventional space. “In the short run, if oil stays in a range bound, let’s say $50 to $55, I think you’ll see our clients’ capital still have a propensity to be deployed to unconventional light-tight oil onshore.”

(The Associated Press) McConnell intends to replace ‘Obamacare’ without Democrats

  • “It’s clear that in the early months it’s going to be a Republicans-only exercise,” the Kentucky senator said. “We don’t expect any Democratic cooperation on the replacement of Obamacare, we don’t expect any Democratic cooperation on tax reform.”
  • McConnell has condemned Democrats for passing Obamacare in the first place, in 2010, without any Republican votes, claiming the partisan exercise set the law up to fail

(Bloomberg) Toll Brothers Beats Estimates as Company Delivers More Homes

  • Toll Brothers Inc., the biggest U.S. luxury-home builder, reported better-than-expected earnings for its fiscal first quarter as it faced limited competition from other public companies focused on cheaper properties
  • “Their results have been very impressive,” Drew Reading, a homebuilding analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence, said before Toll released earnings. “You can attribute a lot of it to the strength of their land positions. A lot of their communities are in better located submarkets within the areas they operate.”
  • The company delivered 1,190 homes in the quarter, about 12 percent more than a year earlier, while the average selling price fell about 11 percent to $773,700 due to changes in the type of properties being constructed

(Business Wire) Community Health Systems, Inc. Announces Financial Results and 2017 Guidance

  • Net operating revenues for the year ended December 31, 2016, totaled $18.438 billion, a 5.1 percent decrease compared with $19.437 billion for the same period in 2015
  • Adjusted EBITDA for the year ended December 31, 2016, was $2.225 billion compared with $2.670 billion for the same period in 2015, representing a 16.7 percent decrease
  • On a same-store basis, admissions decreased 1.9 percent and adjusted admissions decreased 0.5 percent during the year ended December 31, 2016, compared with the same period in 2015
  • Commenting on the results, Wayne T. Smith, chairman and chief executive officer of Community Health Systems, Inc., said, “Significant progress has been made in our work to divest certain hospitals and other operations, enabling a reduction in our debt and the opportunity to reshape our portfolio into a stronger, more sustainable organization. Moving forward in 2017 and beyond, we are intently focused on efficiency improvements in our operations, strategic initiatives that enhance growth in our markets, and portfolio optimization that reduces our total debt.”

(Business Wire) Cloud Peak Energy Inc. Announces Public Offering of Common Stock

  • Cloud Peak Energy Inc. announced that it has commenced a registered underwritten public offering of 13,500,000 shares of its common stock. CPE Inc. intends to grant the underwriters a 30-day option to purchase 2,000,000 additional shares of common stock. CPE Inc. intends to use the net proceeds from the offering to fund the full redemption of its outstanding 8.50% Senior Notes due 2019, plus accrued and unpaid interest to the redemption date, with any remaining proceeds to be used for general corporate purposes.

(Globe Newswire) Pinnacle Foods Inc. Reports Financial Results

  • Grew net sales 17.8%, driven by the Boulder Brands acquisition and continued strong growth of the Frozen segment – particularly the Birds Eye franchise.
  • Expanded gross margin by 140 basis points versus year-ago and Adjusted gross margin by 120 basis points.
  • Commenting on the results, Pinnacle Foods Chief Executive Officer Mark Clouse stated, “We are pleased with our strong finish to 2016, as effective investment in the fourth quarter behind our key franchises, particularly Birds Eye, drove significant retail consumption growth and meaningful market share expansion for the Company. For the full year, solid top-line performance, coupled with gross margin expansion, continued tight management of overhead expenses and the benefit of acquisition synergies, enabled us to finish 2016 ahead of our long-term growth algorithm and at the top of our recently increased guidance range. Looking ahead, we are highly confident in our outlook for 2017, due to strong underlying momentum in the business, our very robust innovation and margin agenda and the benefit of our recent refinancing.”