High Yield and Bank Loan Outlook

While leveraged credit is far from the bargain it was four years ago, discussions of a bubble are premature at this point. Although we have entered the advanced stages of the rally, historical precedent and the continuation of accommodative monetary policy suggest that spreads, particularly those of lower-rated bonds and bank loans, may tighten materially from current levels.

First quarter 2013 returns of 2.9 and 2.4 percent in the high yield bond and bank loan market, respectively, represent the weakest performance to begin a year since 2008. Extended valuations and historically low yields have begun to elicit warnings of a bubble in the high yield market. While leveraged credit is far from the bargain it was four years ago, discussions of a bubble are premature at this point. Although we have entered the advanced stages of the rally, historical precedent and the continuation of accommodative monetary policy suggest that spreads, particularly those of lower-rated credits, may tighten materially from current levels.

With monetary policy mitigating credit risk in the near term, investor focus has shifted to interest rate risk. During the past quarter, rate-sensitive BB bonds underperformed floating-rate single B bank loans by over 100 basis points, a trend we expect to continue. Given the limited supply of net new bank loans, the robust demand from collateralized loan obligations (CLOs) and loan funds should continue to provide a strong technical bid. In the bond market, we remain focused on identifying select opportunities in upper middle-market tranches, where there is a greater ability to drive outcomes.

REPORT HIGHLIGHTS:

  • The typical credit cycle, following a recession, lasts approximately 60 months with spreads not beginning to widen until the 80th month. Discussions of a bubble may be early, considering that the current credit rally will just be entering its 46th month post-recession in April 2013.
  • Concerns of a sudden shift in monetary policy derailing the credit rally appear largely unfounded. The Federal Reserve has given no indication of plans to begin normalizing accommodation or tightening until 2015, at the earliest. Additionally, historical precedent shows that, in four out of the last five credit rallies, spreads continued to tighten even after the Fed began raising rates.
  • Retail demand for bank loans remains robust as investors seek to minimize interest rate risk. Dating back to last year, loan funds have registered 31 consecutive weeks of positive inflows through March 2013. Year-to-date inflows of approximately $13 billion have already exceeded the total for full year 2012.
  • The resurgence of the CLO market has contributed to the rise in loan issuance during the first quarter of 2013. Bank loan issuance totaled $150 billion in the first three months of this year, a level not reached until August last year. 64 percent of this year’s issuance has been used for refinancings, resulting in lower spreads and all-in yields.

DOWNLOAD THE FULL REPORT (PDF) >

© Guggenheim Partners

http://guggenheimpartners.com

IMPORTANT NOTICES AND DISCLOSURES

Past performance is not indicative of future results. There is neither representation nor warranty as to the current accuracy or, nor liability for, decisions based on such information. This article is distributed for informational purposes only and should not be considered as investment advice, a recommendation of any particular security, strategy or investment product or as an offer of solicitation with respect to the purchase or sale of any investment. This article should not be considered research nor is the article intended to provide a sufficient basis on which to make an investment decision. The article contains opinions of the author but not necessarily those of Guggenheim Partners, LLC its subsidiaries or its affiliates. The author’s opinions are subject to change without notice. Forward looking statements, estimates, and certain information contained herein are based upon proprietary and non-proprietary research and other sources. Information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable but is not guaranteed as to accuracy. This article may be provided to certain investors by FINRA licensed broker-dealers affiliated with Guggenheim Partners. Such broker-dealers may have positions in financial instruments mentioned in the article, may have acquired such positions at prices no longer available, and may make recommendations different from or adverse to the interests of the recipient. The value of any financial instruments or markets mentioned in the article can fall as well as rise. Securities mentioned are for illustrative purposes only and are neither a recommendation nor an endorsement. Individuals and institutions outside of the United States are subject to securities and tax regulations within their applicable jurisdictions and should consult with their advisors as appropriate. No part of this article may be reproduced in any form, or referred to in any other publication, without express written.

© Guggenheim Investments

Read more commentaries by Guggenheim Investments