June 17, 2019
The first quarter of 2019 saw an unprecedented rally in spreads due largely to the swing in macroeconomic and central bank policy perceptions. Investor sentiment shifted abruptly alongside the Fed policy pivot, highlighted by a surge in investment-grade fund inflows. The resurgence of demand from overseas investors across the credit curve was also integral in the Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Corporate Bond index spread rally of 44 basis points, a retracement from wides of 163 basis points in December.
The market experienced strong inflows into investment-grade funds during the first quarter of 2019, a sharp reversal from the fourth quarter. These inflows, combined with an underwhelming new-issue market, provided a strong technical backdrop for the broader market rally. The most startling surprise was the corporate spread rally, which occurred despite the sharp decline in Treasury yields. The last time the Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Corporate Bond index traded at the current spread of 119 basis points, in November 2018, the corresponding yield was 4.29 percent, well north of the 3.63 percent registered at the end of the quarter.
The market experienced strong inflows into investment-grade funds during the first quarter of 2019, a sharp reversal from the fourth quarter.
Source: Guggenheim Investments, Investment Company Institute, Bloomberg. Data as of 3.31.2019. Includes flows of investmentgrade corporate mutual funds as reported by ICI and of the iShares iBoxx $ Investment-Grade Corporate Bond ETF (LQD), the largest U.S. Investment-Grade Corporate ETF.
The bearish rhetoric around BBB credit—including concerns over sector leverage, a looming recession, BBBs’ disproportionately high representation in the Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Corporate Bond index, and the ability of the high-yield corporate bond market to absorb a potential deluge of downgrades—drove the dramatic widening of spreads in the fourth quarter of 2018. This widening promptly reversed in the first quarter, as a result of the dovish stance of the Fed, which suggested a return to lower-for-longer rate projections. As a result, BBB corporates outperformed single- As by 12 basis points year to date. Despite a strong first quarter for BBB spreads, the spread ratio of BBBs to single-As reveals plenty of room for further compression.
Despite a strong first quarter for BBB spreads, the spread ratio of BBBs to single-As reveals plenty of room for further compression.
Source: Guggenheim Investments, Bloomberg Barclays. Data as of of 5.31.2019. Note: OAS = option-adjusted spread.
As both domestic and foreign buyers add corporate risk, investors now have a renewed opportunity to clean up their portfolios, shed riskier securities, and shift their portfolios to higher-quality investments better suited to a recessionary environment.
—Jeffrey Carefoot, CFA, Senior Managing Director; Justin Takata, Managing Director
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, GS GAMMA Advisors, LLC, Guggenheim Partners Europe Limited, and Guggenheim Partners India Management.
©2019, 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.
Credit spreads still have room to tighten, but default risk remains elevated in certain sectors.
The relative calm we feel in the markets right now isn’t the end of the storm, it is just the eye.
Cooperation and understanding between China and United States is vital as global economic and environmental challenges mount.
Brian Smedley, Head of Macroeconomic and Investment Research, and Portfolio Manager Steve Brown share their outlook for the third quarter 2020.
Scott Minerd, Chairman of Investments and Global CIO, discussed his outlook for markets and the economy with CNBC’s Brian Sullivan during the Milken Institute 2020 Global Conference.
You are now leaving this website.Guggenheim assumes no responsibility of the content or its accuracy.
Your browser does not support iframes.
2021 Guggenheim Partners, LLC. All rights reserved. Guggenheim, Guggenheim Partners and Innovative Solutions. Enduring Values. are registered trademarks of Guggenheim Capital, LLC.