Investment Themes

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High Yield Munis Still Cheaper Than Corporate Junk

Mid-Month Issuer Review of the S&P U.S. Issued High Yield Corporate Bond Index

Buddy, Can You Spare Some Yield?

History, Real and Simulated

Video: The Main Themes Driving Commodity Performance in 2013

High Yield Munis Still Cheaper Than Corporate Junk

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J.R. Rieger

Head of Fixed Income Indices

S&P Dow Jones Indices

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U.S. Municipal Bonds: (Data as of May 16,2013)

Corporate junk bond yields have risen as mutual funds have seen outflows. Meanwhile, municipal high yield bonds have held their own. A rare twist in the markets may be ending as a result: yields of tax free high yield municipal bonds are 34bps higher (Yield to Worst) than high yield corporate bonds. That spread has narrowed from last week’s 56bp spread.

High yield corporate bonds tracked in the S&P U.S. Issued High Yield Bond Index have returned just under 5% year to date but lost ground the past several days as fund outflows weigh on the market driving prices down and the weighted average yield (yield to worst) up by 22bps since last week to end at 4.88%.

High yield municipal bonds tracked in the S&P Municipal Bond High Yield Index have seen a 3.9% year to date return with yields remaining fairly steady this week to end at 5.22%.
o The Taxable Equivalent Yield of these same municipal bonds is over 8% when using a 35% tax rate.

High Yield Muni & Corporate Bond Index Yields
High Yield Muni & Corporate Bond Index Yields

The S&P National AMT-Free Municipal Bond Index is up 1.26% year to date modestly outperforming investment grade corporate bonds tracked in the S&P U.S. Issued Investment Grade Corporate Bond Index which has returned just under 1%.

The 5 year range of the municipal bond curve is keeping up with the overall market as the 5 year S&P AMT-Free Muni Series 2018 Index has returned 1.14%, while longer municipal bonds in the S&P Municipal Bond 20+ year Index have recorded a total return of 2.14% year to date with yields remaining steady over the course of the week.

Puerto Rico hasn’t left the spotlight and bonds from Puerto Rico have performed like the high yield market returning 3.77% year to date.

The posts on this blog are opinions, not advice. Please read our Disclaimers.

Mid-Month Issuer Review of the S&P U.S. Issued High Yield Corporate Bond Index

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Kevin Horan

Director, Fixed Income Indices

S&P Dow Jones Indices

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The index is up 0.42% month-to-date.  Here is a performance review of the top & bottom 10 issues within the index.

Top 10 Issues

  • May has been a good month for MBIA so far.  The insurer settled a 2008 legal dispute with Bank of America concerning bad mortgage debt.  The $1.7 billion settlement later led to a Standard & Poor’s rating upgrade, which moved the issuer’s senior unsecured debt from B- to BBB.
  • Momentive Performance’s first quarter results of slightly lower sales but improving operating incomes, coupled with refinancing activities for a $270 million asset-based revolving loan and a $75 million revolving credit facility, moved this issuer’s bonds up.
  • TXU bonds improved as Energy Futures Holdings Corp. looks to win support for a bankruptcy restructuring deal. UP10

Bottom 10 Issues

  • Cengage’s CEO has publically announced that the company may need to file for Chapter 11 and that no decision on a restructuring has been made.
  • Physiotherapy Associates is in monetary default as a coupon payment has been missed.
  • Harrah’s Operating Company bonds dropped as Ceasars Entertainment missed estimates due to revenue declines in their main markets.Down10

 

The posts on this blog are opinions, not advice. Please read our Disclaimers.

Buddy, Can You Spare Some Yield?

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Kevin Horan

Director, Fixed Income Indices

S&P Dow Jones Indices

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It doesn’t take more than a passing glance at a business publication or televised market update to know that one of the top business stories is the current low interest rate regime.  U.S. Treasury bills are being auctioned, and are trading, at or near zero yields.  The yield-to-worst on the S&P/BGCantor 0-3 Month U.S. Treasury Bill Index is presently at 0.03%. This means the government is financing itself at close to zero cost for its short term borrowing and, further out on the curve, the cost of financing does not go up by much; as the yield-to-worst on the S&P/BGCantor 7-10 Year U.S. Treasury Bond Index is now at 1.48%. As long as the Fed continues to effectively stimulate monetary policy with its monthly purchases of $85 billion in notes and mortgage bonds, this situation will most likely continue.

As the treasury curve is the basis of valuation for most debt, outside of Libor for loans and swaps, the currently advantageous environment applies to other asset classes of the capital markets as well. Corporate debt, as measured by the S&P U.S. Issued Investment Grade Corporate Bond Index, has reached recent lows in May as the index’s yield-to-worst stands at 2.50%. Below investment grade issuers, whose credit risks rating agencies view as a higher concern, and which comprise the S&P U.S. Issued High Yield Corporate Bond Index, are yielding 4.66% (YTW).

Treasurers and CFOs across the market are touting this as the perfect time to refinance and strike deals, as the cost of financing is so low.  Companies are issuing various maturities of debt at a frenzied pace to an investor base that demands as much yield as it can get.  Such “oversubscribed” deals show that investors are piling into both investment grade and high yield paper.  Investors are frantically scooping up any product that provide yield, but are they turning a blind eye to the risks they are assuming?  As companies use these funds to realign their businesses, pay down older debt, start new projects, or create new ones, the benefits of current leveraging will only be determined in the future.  A more immediate effect, among others, has been the buyback of equity shares by a number of companies, as the S&P 500 is up 14.06% year-to-date.

S&P U.S. Issued High Yield Corporate Bond Index and S&P U.S. Issued Investment Grade Corporate Bond Index

The posts on this blog are opinions, not advice. Please read our Disclaimers.

History, Real and Simulated

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Craig Lazzara

Managing Director and Global Head of Index Investment Strategy

S&P Dow Jones Indices

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Show me a man who’s never been burned by relying on a backtest and I’ll show you a man who’s never relied on a backtest at all  (either that or a fictional character).  Skepticism toward backtested results is endemic among investment professionals, and rightly so.  And yet… when a new concept comes along, backtested performance may be the only performance available.  Refusing to examine backtested results in that circumstance is tantamount to refusing to consider any new investment idea.

We discuss this problem here: http://us.spindices.com/documents/research/research-the-limits-of-history.pdf, suggesting that skepticism should sometimes extend not only to backtested data, but to live history as well.  Past performance is never a guarantee of future results, but sometimes it’s more useful than other times – whether its source is real or simulated.

The posts on this blog are opinions, not advice. Please read our Disclaimers.

Video: The Main Themes Driving Commodity Performance in 2013

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Jodie Gunzberg

Managing Director, Head of U.S. Equities

S&P Dow Jones Indices

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A performance review on the two major commodity indices in the market — the S&P GSCI and DJUBSCI. Find out the main themes that has been driving commodity performance since the beginning of 2013.

The posts on this blog are opinions, not advice. Please read our Disclaimers.