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Exploit market inefficiency and avoid losses
Debt gets a bad rap, creating images of human figures bound in chains… but is it really that bad? It is a lot more complex than that, says asset allocator and debt investor Lukas Daalder in his analysis of the thorny subject for Robeco’s new five-year outlook.
The ECB’s corporate sector purchase program has given investment grade corporate bonds a huge boost. Moreover, growth in ‘corporate hybrids’ and ‘reverse Yankees’ offers attractive yield pick-up opportunities.
After the credit crisis, the importance of proper risk management at banks has become indisputable. In 2015, RobecoSAM incorporated a new question on banks’ risk culture in its yearly Corporate Sustainability Assessment. This information has a direct impact on Robeco’s credit investment decisions.
For many telecom companies, expanding into emerging countries can be very attractive. However, the telecom sector is highly exposed to country governance risk, such as changing regulations and bribery. For credits issued by telecom companies we assess this risk in a structured way to make better-informed investment decisions.
The world economy is marked by sluggish growth and absent price pressure. Despite unprecedented monetary easing, inflation expectations have declined further. Bond yields have set new historical lows and can continue to do so. Central bank buying programs add to the picture as bond scarcity in core government markets increases downward pressure on interest rates.
“Putting your research to the test is always exciting, and if it then works out well, then that’s very satisfying.” That’s how Patrick Houweling describes celebrating the first anniversary of the Global Multi-Factor Credits fund, with an outperformance chart to go with the birthday cake.
American companies are levering up and central banks are providing ever cheaper money. With increasing debt, markets are becoming more vulnerable to volatility. We pursue a guerrilla strategy, adopting a neutral starting point and taking tactical positions where value pops up due to excessive fear. We start with a higher beta driven by the Brexit spread premium.
The Robeco Financial Institutions Bonds fund invests mainly in subordinated financial. The market for subordinated financials opened lower this morning, in line with other risky assets like equity. Throughout the morning prices started to recover a bit and we have seen buyers in the market. Market weakness was well spread, though obviously UK names underperformed.
Research shows that factor investing strategies work well in corporate bonds, but actually building a portfolio requires greater care due to liquidity issues, Robeco’s quantitative experts argue in a new white paper.
Victor Verberk is bracing himself for more market volatility for corporate bonds. As a bond investor, he is also a risk manager, and there is no shortage of risks at the moment. "But as active research-driven bond pickers, we love this market." The analysts at Morningstar gave his contrarian investment style a Bronze rating.
Investors in high yield bonds should be careful that they do not get carried away by the unpredictable sentiment on financial markets. Sander Bus, Robeco High Yield Bonds portfolio manager, puts this investment category into perspective and looks ahead. "There certainly are investment opportunities among high yield corporate bonds, but it remains important to be selective."
Fears that the credit markets will be adversely affected much further by a Brexit are overblown, or at least have been priced in to a certain extent, as fundamentals are unchanged, says portfolio manager Victor Verberk.
The annual predictions season officially kicked off the moment we tore the last page off our 2015 calendar. Anything from simply making future projections based on existing movements and trends to coming up with top-of-your-head ideas for ‘black swans’ – unexpected events that could have a major impact.
Credit growth in China and Quantitative Easing (QE) in the US, Europe and Japan were medicines that worked for a while. Cheap money kept zombie businesses afloat and prevented creative destruction. However, the commodity cycle has rolled over and the credit cycle is proceeding. Funding pressure is increasing, the US credit market is full of animal spirits and volatility is back.
We provide empirical evidence that the Size, Low-Risk, Value and Momentum factors have significant risk-adjusted returns in the corporate bond market. By combining these factors in a multi-factor portfolio, drawdowns and tracking error vs. the market are reduced, while the higher return and Sharpe ratio are preserved.
Most academic studies on factor investing are about equities. Patrick Houweling and Jeroen van Zundert show that factor investing also works for bonds. How has their research paper been used to create a fund?