Our investment professionals share and challenge each other’s views, creating a diverse marketplace of ideas for the Wellington Blog.
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.
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.
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…
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.
In my August 2020 blog post, I highlighted a potentially compelling return opportunity in the often-scorned universe of “fallen angels” — formerly investment-grade-rated corporate bonds whose ratings have been downgraded to high-yield (i.e., below-investment-grade) status by major credit rating agencies. I noted that, within two years of being thus downgraded, fallen angels as a group have handily outperformed the broader US high-yield index (and all three of its quality subgroups) over the long term.
Fast forward to early 2021: What I call the “fallen-angel effect” appears to have lost none of its luster. And notably, my latest research revealed that it’s not limited to just…
Near term, our view on the high-yield market remains that a neutral-to-slightly cautious risk posture, with a heavy focus on security selection, is warranted amid spiking COVID numbers, the US political transition, the waning effects of government stimulus, and credit spreads having tightened from earlier this year. Longer term, however, our outlook is more positive as we see plenty of reasons to be optimistic as we look out nine to 12 months from now.
Factor investing – tilting a portfolio toward securities that have certain attributes (e.g., attractive value, quality, momentum, etc.) – has become widely accepted and practiced in the world of equities. Within fixed income, it is in a more nascent stage.
However, we believe that applying a factor-based investing framework can lead to valuable insights into what is driving performance in different sectors of the bond market. Even more important, it may allow investors to better position their portfolios to take advantage of…
The term “fallen angels” has always carried a somewhat pejorative connotation among fixed income investors. In some instances, that may well be justified, but not always. Indeed, particularly in today’s environment, I believe discerning investors may be able to uncover attractive value in the often-scorned universe of fallen angels.
European, global, and US high-yield indices declined around 20% from the start of the year through the peak in spreads on March 23. However, extraordinary global monetary and fiscal stimulus measures in response to the COVID-19 crisis have since helped high-yield markets recoup a sizeable portion of those losses. Members of Wellington’s High Yield Strategy Group met recently to discuss their market outlook, including perceived risks and opportunities, in the wake of this extreme volatility.
While the worst of the economic shock is likely behind us, the question now surrounds the trajectory and timing of a recovery. Our base case is for a two-stage recovery that begins with a strong rebound from pent-up consumer demand as lockdown measures are eased, followed by a drawn-out recession.
Purchasing managers’ indices (PMIs) — economic indicators derived from surveys of private companies — remain depressed across nearly all geographies. However, we believe…
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