MAIN MENU

#WellSaid

Our investment professionals share and challenge each other’s views, creating a diverse marketplace of ideas for the Wellington Blog.

The fixed income market dislocations triggered by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic left active portfolio managers with extraordinary opportunities to generate alpha not seen since the 2008 global financial crisis. Accordingly, many are well ahead of their benchmarks since COVID: The percentage of active core bond-plus and global aggregate bond strategies besting their benchmarks has spiked sharply to over 80% and 90%, respectively.1 Many fixed income allocators have, of course, benefited mightily from this recent spurt of active manager outperformance.

On the surface, there doesn’t seem to be a problem here, right? However, a closer look at this “golden era” of excess returns reveals potential structural manager biases and stylistic tilts that most investors may not expect, or necessarily want, from their fixed income allocation. These risk factor leanings have enabled many active managers to…

MARKETS
Brendan Fludder
Brendan Fludder
CFA
Research Manager
Boston
Carlos Coutinho
Carlos Coutinho
CFA
Solutions Portfolio Manager
Boston
Noah Comen
Noah Comen
CFA
Investment Strategy Analyst
Boston

For many fixed income investors, we believe high-quality securitized assets can play a valuable role in a diversified credit portfolio — and they have become even more attractive thanks to new risk-based capital (RBC) factors being adopted by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).

Should non-insurance entities care about these changes? We think so because the changes could impact credit spreads and investor demand across the securitized sector. For instance, we may see greater demand for AAAs/AA rated bonds and less demand for As, which could affect…

MARKETS
Alyssa Irving
Alyssa Irving
Fixed Income Portfolio Manager
Boston
Tim Antonelli
Tim Antonelli
CFA, FRM, SCR
Multi-Asset Strategist
Boston
Klimas Celene
Celene Klimas
CFA
Investment Specialist
Boston

In many cases, investing in an alternative (hedge fund) strategy requires a totally different mindset and starting point than traditional, long-only investing. Yet we often find that the “lines get blurred,” so to speak, when talking with clients about our alternative investment capabilities and the numerous opportunities that may be available to them in this dynamic space. Let’s take a closer look.

Long-only investing vs long/short investing strategies

Typically, the process that traditional long-only investors follow when making an investment decision is to first conduct research (or have others do so) to identify an existing market opportunity and to then determine the best means of deploying the capital needed to exploit that opportunity, which most commonly takes the form of an equity or fixed income strategy. This concept of “idea generation and pursuit” has spawned…

Last week, a blog post titled Fixed income investors warily eye Congress and the Fed discussed three likely government policy drivers of fixed income markets in the period ahead — US monetary policy, US fiscal policy, and the US debt ceiling. Here, we’ll take the next step of briefly highlighting some fixed income market sectors where investors might turn for attractive total return opportunities in today’s challenging environment. Indeed, it’s perhaps the most pressing question many fixed income clients have been asking lately.

A supportive US policy backdrop

The prevailing US monetary and fiscal policy backdrop continues to be broadly supportive of credit fundamentals, but many credit sectors are not currently…

MARKETS
Brij Khurana
Brij Khurana
Fixed Income Portfolio Manager
Boston
Amar Reganti
Amar Reganti
Investment Director
Boston

The growth of portfolio trading has been a constant theme in fixed income markets throughout the volatility of the pandemic. This continues the trend of clients increasingly relying on a broader variety of liquidity sources to achieve their objectives. Trading a portfolio of multiple bonds with a range of credit qualities and durations in a single transaction allows clients to access aggregated liquidity more efficiently. It can improve timing, execution, and cost, while minimizing a client’s exposure to uncertainty and volatility.

In this short blog, we share our views on the best uses for portfolio trading and discuss the current state of the market.

ETFs and portfolio trading

Importantly, standard “voice” trades remain the core of risk transfer in credit markets. However, the persistent development of the ETF ecosystem has added a…

Our ESG philosophy for short-duration investing

Environmental, social, and governance risks have always been key considerations in our research and investment process. These factors are particularly critical given the core objectives of a short-duration portfolio: to maximize liquidity and preserve capital while achieving attractive total return.

Importantly, adverse ESG factors increase the risks of credit deterioration and illiquidity. We believe that there are areas where these risks are not currently compensated by valuations. In our view, heightened global scrutiny of issuers from an ESG lens will eventually drive up the cost of capital for many issuers with outsized ESG risks. In addition, we think it will potentially lead to lower liquidity in their bonds as more investors avoid these issuers. As an example, the tobacco sector already has a higher cost of debt and less demand for issuers on average versus…

Load More

Archive

As credit spreads have compressed to post-global financial crisis tights, and with bond yields hovering near all-time lows, I believe the total and excess return prospects for investment-grade fixed income look rather grim. Tight valuations, coupled with some looming risks on the horizon (the COVID Delta variant, inflationary pressures, fading fiscal stimulus, and China’s slowdown), may present an opportunity to “take some chips off the table,” so to speak. I recommend reducing both credit and interest-rate risk in many investor portfolios.

The technical backdrop remains strong

Investment-grade credit has been well-supported by strong demand from non-US investors and the domestic pension community. For overseas investors, US credit is still their best option on the yield “menu” (made even more attractive on a currency-hedged basis), given lower prevailing yields across most other developed markets. Many defined benefit pension plans have been…

MACRO
MARKETS

ARCHIVED

Connor Fitzgerald
Connor Fitzgerald
Fixed Income Portfolio Manager
Boston

The Chinese government’s aggressive regulatory crackdown on the country’s private technology companies (most recently, the online education sector) has shaken investor sentiment toward a range of Chinese assets, causing China’s equity and bond markets alike to swoon in recent days. The crackdown comes as Chinese policymakers embark on the delicate balancing act of redefining the role of private enterprise in China, versus the often-competing objectives of the nation’s common prosperity and social responsibility.

Here’s a distillation of our global fixed income and emerging markets debt teams’ latest views on some of the potential investment implications.

Fixed income investment implications

China equities and sovereign bonds, along with the Chinese currency, abruptly sold off in unison following the government’s latest regulatory actions during the week of July 26. But most Chinese household wealth is still mainly invested in…

MACRO
MARKETS

ARCHIVED

Jitu Naidu
Investment Communications Manager
Boston

Many investors are increasingly seeking to protect their portfolios from the looming threat of higher inflation. Against this uncertain backdrop, I believe collateralized loan obligations (CLOs) can provide one source of refuge given their floating-rate coupons (yields), which would rise as short-term interest rates moved higher. Attractive current income relative to other credit assets and broadly positive CLO fundamentals further bolster my conviction in this often-overlooked asset class.

Where I stand on the inflation debate

Core US inflation spiked sharply in April and May 2021. For the three-month period ended in May, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose by 8.3% annualized, the biggest gain since the early 1980s. This has naturally exacerbated recent inflation concerns, raising questions around whether higher inflation will be transitory or more sustained. US interest rates have risen amid expectations for higher inflation, resulting in negative total returns year-to-date (through 31 May) for many fixed income sectors, especially longer-dated fixed-rate assets.

My take: While some of today’s inflationary pressures may indeed be short-lived, particularly within…

MARKETS
THEMES

ARCHIVED

Alyssa Irving
Alyssa Irving
Fixed Income Portfolio Manager
Boston

In our last blog post in March, we recommended a slightly defensive risk posture for high-yield investors, with a focus on individual security selection. In our view, today’s high-yield bond market requires a carefully balanced approach. We remain selective with a modestly defensive risk tilt given rich valuations, while recognizing that low spreads may last longer thanks to ongoing monetary and fiscal support. We will watch for signs of central banks tightening or deteriorating liquidity before turning more defensive.

Macro environment: Positive

  • At the time of writing, short-term economic data and corporate earnings are as good as it gets, thanks to the stimulus. We expect a modest slowdown into the second half of 2021.
  • Inflationary pressures are building across both emerging markets (EM) and developed markets (DM), with price rises potentially spilling over from goods into services. Policymakers view these pressures as a transitory phenomenon, but we will monitor to determine whether they prove more enduring.
  • We are concerned about these dynamics and…
MARKETS

ARCHIVED

Christopher Jones
Christopher Jones
CFA
Fixed Income Portfolio Manager
Boston
Michael Hong headshot
Michael Hong
CFA
Fixed Income Portfolio Manager
Boston
Konstantin Leidman headshot
Konstantin Leidman
CFA
Fixed Income Portfolio Manager
London

For fixed income investors, varying the amount of credit risk in your portfolio can exert a major influence on the portfolio’s realized alpha. Indeed, historical data shows that this single factor can have a larger impact than decisions around what bond sectors or individual issuers to invest in. Accordingly, it’s worth spending some time thinking about precisely how much credit risk to take and when. My latest research in this area focuses on the role that valuation can play in adjusting credit risk over an economic cycle.

Methodology at a glance

I looked at the strategic timing of buying and selling credit exposure (in the form of corporate bonds, using cash or US Treasuries as a funding source) with low turnover, and using market valuation as the sole buy/sell signal. There are, of course, other predictive drivers of credit returns, such as…

MACRO
MARKETS

ARCHIVED

Robert Burn
Rob Burn
CFA
Fixed Income Portfolio Manager
Boston

Since January 2021, many investors have come around to the view that the US appears poised for a strong rebound in economic growth, driven by fiscal stimulus, vaccine administration, and economic reopenings. Meanwhile, bottlenecks in global supply chains have made it more challenging to meet increased demand for goods and services, causing input costs to rise across a number of industries.

Taken together, these developments have led to mounting inflation expectations and upward movements in interest rates. Year to date through 12 April 2021, the 10-year US Treasury yield has risen 75 basis points (bps) to 1.67%. The spread between the fed funds rate and the US 10-year Treasury note, a general proxy for yield-curve steepness, is also up meaningfully.

I believe the risk of further rises in inflation expectations and interest rates is not yet fully priced into markets. There are steps fixed income investors can take now to manage this growing risk to their portfolios. One way to do so may be via allocations to higher-income, shorter-duration assets such as floating-rate loans (FRLs).

The “duration rotation” is underway

In today’s low-yield world, a steepening yield curve can have a material negative impact on…

MARKETS
THEMES

ARCHIVED

Dave Marshak headshot
David Marshak
Fixed Income Portfolio Manager
Boston

In our last blog post, we described the secular forces that we believe are driving the transition to a new fixed income reality characterized by more frequent market dislocations. Here, we lay out four steps investors can take to build a new fixed income allocation that is equal to today’s challenges and opportunities.

1. Rethink how to construct a fixed income allocation.

It’s best to start with what we know has changed. We know that inflation may be poised to rise in many countries, which could have important implications for global currencies and interest rates. We know also that the fixed income markets have evolved to become increasingly…

MARKETS

ARCHIVED

Emily Bannister
Emily Bannister
CFA
Investment Director
Boston
Richard Gilmartin
Rich Gilmartin
Investment Director
Boston

In our view, convertible bonds (“convertibles”) are a compelling investment opportunity in today’s volatile, uncertain market landscape. Due to its hybrid stock/bond nature, the asset class can participate in long-term equity market upside, while delivering much better downside protection than stocks.

Given that nearly 70% of convertibles are unrated securities, we believe a global investment manager with integrated equity and fixed income research platforms is best positioned to navigate this attractive but often inefficient asset class.

1. Exposure to “growthy” companies

The composition of the convertibles universe is “over-indexed” to growth companies, especially in…

MARKETS

ARCHIVED

Michael Barry
Michael Barry
Fixed Income Credit Analyst
Boston
Raina Dunkelberger
Raina Dunkelberger
CFA
Investment Specialist
Boston

With global high-yield spreads still quite tight as of this writing, we continue to suggest that investors pursue a slightly defensive risk posture and focus on individual security selection. At the same time, investors should maintain flexibility to position nimbly and opportunistically in response to changing market conditions — because we expect greater frequency of short-term market sell-offs going forward.

Macro environment: Positive

  • In the near term, we have a more favorable view of the prevailing macroeconomic tailwinds than we did in the fourth quarter of 2020.
  • Medium to longer term, we have growing concerns around the risk of US Federal Reserve (Fed) “tapering” rhetoric and its potential impact on risk assets.
  • Accommodative fiscal policy has helped bolster corporate balance sheets, which is an unusual characteristic of a post-recession economic recovery.
  • Increased money supply and stockpiled savings could be…

 

MARKETS

ARCHIVED

Christopher Jones
Christopher Jones
CFA
Fixed Income Portfolio Manager
Boston
Michael Hong headshot
Michael Hong
CFA
Fixed Income Portfolio Manager
Boston
Konstantin Leidman headshot
Konstantin Leidman
CFA
Fixed Income Portfolio Manager
London
Load More
Share on linkedin
Share on email

Categories

Trending posts

DISCLOSURES

Wellington Management Company LLP (WMC) is an independently owned investment adviser registered with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). WMC is also registered with the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) as a commodity trading advisor (CTA) and serves as a CTA to certain clients including registered commodity pools and their operators. WMC provides commodity trading advice to all other clients in reliance on exemptions from CTA registration. WMC, along with its affiliates (collectively, Wellington Management), provides investment management and investment advisory services to institutions around the world. Located in Boston, Massachusetts, Wellington Management also has offices in Chicago, Illinois; Radnor, Pennsylvania; San Francisco, California; Beijing; Frankfurt; Hong Kong; London; Luxembourg; Singapore; Sydney; Tokyo; Toronto; and Zurich. ■ This material is prepared for, and authorized for internal use by, designated institutional and professional investors and their consultants or for such other use as may be authorized by Wellington Management. This material and/or its contents are current at the time of writing and may not be reproduced or distributed in whole or in part, for any purpose, without the express written consent of Wellington Management. This material is not intended to constitute investment advice or an offer to sell, or the solicitation of an offer to purchase shares or other securities. Investors should always obtain and read an up-to-date investment services description or prospectus before deciding whether to appoint an investment manager or to invest in a fund. Any views expressed herein are those of the author(s), are based on available information, and are subject to change without notice. Individual portfolio management teams may hold different views and may make different investment decisions for different clients.

In Canada, this material is provided by Wellington Management Canada ULC, a British Columbia unlimited liability company registered in the provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and Saskatchewan in the categories of Portfolio Manager and Exempt Market Dealer. ■ In Europe (ex. Austria, Germany and Switzerland), this material is provided by Wellington Management International Limited (WMIL), a firm authorized and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK. This material is directed only at persons (Relevant Persons) who are classified as eligible counterparties or professional clients under the rules of the FCA. This material must not be acted on or relied on by persons who are not Relevant Persons. Any investment or investment service to which this material relates is available only to Relevant Persons and will be engaged in only with Relevant Persons. ■ In Austria and Germany, this material is provided by Wellington Management Europe GmbH, which is authorized and regulated by the German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (Bundesanstalt für Finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht – BaFin). This material is directed only at persons (Relevant Persons) who are classified as eligible counterparties or professional clients under the German Securities Trading Act. This material does not constitute investment advice, a solicitation to invest in financial instruments or information recommending or suggesting an investment strategy within the meaning of Section 85 of the German Securities Trading Act (Wertpapierhandelsgesetz). ■ In Hong Kong, this material is provided to you by Wellington Management Hong Kong Limited (WM Hong Kong), a corporation licensed by the Securities and Futures Commission to conduct Type 1 (dealing in securities), Type 2 (dealing in futures contracts), Type 4 (advising on securities), and Type 9 (asset management) regulated activities, on the basis that you are a Professional Investor as defined in the Securities and Futures Ordinance. By accepting this material you acknowledge and agree that this material is provided for your use only and that you will not distribute or otherwise make this material available to any person. ■ In Singapore, this material is provided for your use only by Wellington Management Singapore Pte Ltd (WM Singapore) (Registration Number 201415544E). WM Singapore is regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore under a Capital Markets Services Licence to conduct fund management activities and is an exempt financial adviser. By accepting this material you represent that you are a non-retail investor and that you will not copy, distribute or otherwise make this material available to any person. ■ In Australia, Wellington Management Australia Pty Ltd (WM Australia) (ABN 19 167 091 090) has authorized the issue of this material for use solely by wholesale clients (as defined in the Corporations Act 2001). By accepting this material, you acknowledge and agree that this material is provided for your use only and that you will not distribute or otherwise make this material available to any person. Wellington Management Company LLP is exempt from the requirement to hold an Australian financial services licence (AFSL) under the Corporations Act 2001 in respect of financial services provided to wholesale clients in Australia, subject to certain conditions. Financial services provided by Wellington Management Company LLP are regulated by the SEC under the laws and regulatory requirements of the United States, which are different from the laws applying in Australia. ■ In Japan, Wellington Management Japan Pte Ltd (WM Japan) (Registration Number 199504987R) has been registered as a Financial Instruments Firm with registered number: Director General of Kanto Local Finance Bureau (Kin-Sho) Number 428. WM Japan is a member of the Japan Investment Advisers Association (JIAA), the Investment Trusts Association, Japan (ITA) and the Type II Financial Instruments Firms Association (T2FIFA). ■ WMIL, WM Hong Kong, WM Japan, and WM Singapore are also registered as investment advisers with the SEC; however, they will comply with the substantive provisions of the US Investment Advisers Act only with respect to their US clients.

Wellington Management logo

Contact Us

*Mandatory Field

Contact Us

*Mandatory Field