Commercial Mortgage-Backed Securities: Investors Latch On to New Issue

Dislocation between primary and secondary CMBS markets limits near-term upside.

August 16, 2017

This Commercial Mortgage-Backed Securities sector report is excerpted from the Third Quarter 2017 Fixed-Income Outlook.

Private label CMBS now represents only 10 percent of outstanding CRE finance, down from a peak of 23 percent in 2007. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have assumed a near-monopoly in multifamily finance, and the demand from banks and insurance companies has dramatically encroached on CMBS’s footprint. From a credit perspective, CMBS metrics are somewhat mixed in 2017, as first mortgage loan-to-value ratios (LTVs) have improved alongside greater concentrations in interest-only loans and increased mezzanine and B note financing. Recently, CMBS bonds have traded in secondary markets at significant discounts to new issue. Despite similar metrics and shorter tenors, CMBS secondary bonds are not finding the sponsorship of their new-issue counterparts.

While CMBS supply constraints have buttressed CMBS spread levels in the face of an 8 percent decline in CRE transaction volumes and ongoing retail challenges, the dislocation between primary and secondary markets is difficult to explain. Viewed in a positive light, the dislocation represents a buying opportunity for investors with sufficient resources and patience to navigate secondary markets, but may highlight liquidity concerns and a splintering buyer base at current new-issue spread levels. By contrast, large loan CMBS has had robust new issue supply and significant secondary demand. Year to date, $17.9 billion large loan transactions have been issued, compared to $8 billion last year. Primary and secondary market demand for these transactions has remained exceptionally high. In the secondary market, these transactions often trade at a premium, subjecting investors to a negative yield to worst. The risk of these securities being called and refinanced remains high in our estimation, and we have generally withdrawn from those secondary markets as a result.

Post-crisis CMBS, as measured by the Barclays U.S. CMBS 2.0 index, posted a positive total return of 1.4 percent for the second quarter. The AAA-rated and AA-rated tranches of the index returned 1.3 percent each, while A-rated and BBB-rated CMBS 2.0 tranches had stronger total returns of 1.7 and 2.6 percent, respectively.

Given the mixed market technicals, we have become more defensive. We generally prefer up-in-credit securities and have focused on secondary markets to the extent possible. We remain active in floating-rate large loan and CRE CLO transactions, and have limited our activity to primary markets where the purchase price is not at a premium and our investors are not exposed to negative yields in a call scenario.

Private Label CMBS Loses Market Share

Private label CMBS now represents only 10 percent of commercial and multi-family debt outstanding, down from its peak of 23 percent in 2007, while market share of Agency CMBS, as well as banks and insurance companies, has increased.

Private Label CMBS Loses Market Share

Source: Flow of Funds Accounts, Federal Reserve Board of Governors, Commercial Mortgage Alert, Guggenheim Investments. Data as of 12.31.2016. Note: The Federal Reserve changed its reporting for CMBS in Q2 2013, which resulted in a decrease in outstanding CMBS of about $130 billion that was recategorized as REIT debt.

New-Issue CMBS Spreads Tighten

CMBS supply constraints have buttressed CMBS spread levels in the face of a 12 percent decline in CRE transaction volumes and ongoing challenges for retail properties.

New-Issue CMBS Spreads Tighten

Source: Wells Fargo, Guggenheim Investments. Data as of 7.17.2017. New issue XA is a type of interest-only tranche.

—Peter Van Gelderen, Managing Director; Shannon Erdmann, Director; Simon Deery, Vice President

Important Notices and Disclosures

This article is distributed for informational purposes only and should not be considered as investing advice or a recommendation of any particular security, strategy or investment product. It contains opinions of the authors but not necessarily those of Guggenheim Partners or its subsidiaries. The authors’ opinions are subject to change without notice. Information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but are not assured as to accuracy. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Investing involves risk. In general, the value of fixed-income securities fall when interest rates rise. High-yield securities present more liquidity and credit risk than investment grade bonds and may be subject to greater volatility. Asset-backed securities, including mortgage-backed securities, may have structures that make their reaction to interest rates and other factors difficult to predict, making their prices volatile and they are subject to liquidity risk. Investments in floating rate senior secured syndicated bank loans and other floating rate securities involve special types of risks, including credit risk, interest rate risk, liquidity risk and prepayment risk. Guggenheim Investments represents the following affiliated investment management businesses of Guggenheim Partners, LLC: Guggenheim Partners Investment Management, LLC, Security Investors, LLC, Guggenheim Funds Investment Advisors, LLC, Guggenheim Funds Distributors, LLC, Guggenheim Real Estate, LLC, GS GAMMA Advisors, LLC, Guggenheim Partners Europe Limited, and Guggenheim Partners India Management. ©2017, Guggenheim Partners, LLC. No part of this article may be reproduced in any form, or referred to in any other publication, without express written permission of Guggenheim Partners, LLC.


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