High Yield Bonds | HY Bond Index Spreads & Yields

High yield bonds data: Hover over the charts to see the values at a given date.  iBoxx EUR High Yield Overall Index data provided by Markit Group Ltd

i) High Yield Bond Index: Corporate Spreads

The high yield bond market saw option-like returns in 2009. Total returns exceeded 70% in that year. Admittedly we saw the recovery come after some very depressed valuations into the end of 2008. Spreads were at their all-time wides on the back of the crisis and in 2008, there was zero issuance. Nothing. We think that the high yield bond market still retains its fledgling tag. Issuance levels may have hit €50bn+ in 2014/15, but the reality is, this market closes at any hint of trouble. European high yield credit benefitted from the high/low beta compression trade from 2012-2014, but subsequently came under pressure from the contagion impact of the US shale bust.

Euro HY primary is running at a record run rate, but the impact on secondary has been limited. We widened hard in February and March, but a good primary market in April didn’t impact secondary. In fact, secondary spreads tightened by almost 20bp in April. There might be some support now for the market from traditional IG investors, not getting their fill from lower primary activity in IG markets. Returns also perked up, and after recording a total return loss of 0.5% on Q1, the period to end April saw the index returns at +0.1%.

ii) High Yield Bond Index: Spreads 2015-

The ECB’s IG effort has finally – noticeably – forced investors down the curve and into funding borrowers not normally in their portfolio remit. However, the forced change has seen funds take more sub-investment grade debt into their mandates/portfolios, and so this market has previously squeezed to record historical tights in spreads.
We didn’t quite see the record tights through a solid January, but we got with 14bp of it as we bottomed out at B+265bp and hit a recent high of B+337bp. We started the year with the index at B+286bp and at the end of April we’re wider at B+319bp (-17bp in April).
Positive equity markets through May and June could see us move tighter again, given that there has been some resilience in the market through April in the face of some heavy supply.

iii) High Yield Bond Index: Yields

Funding costs for borrowers have been dropping for a while but have backed up from record low levels. The index yield record low of 2.31% was recorded in November 2017, but is now 3.22%. Index yields have backed up though from recent lows of 2.70% to as much as 3.35% (in March), before April’s recovery.

The primary market delivering though, and the wall of funding crunch is not an issue for the broader market. Corporates are still taking advantage of the demand for high yield risk by borrowing aggressively and pushing redemption profiles out, to 2019/20. With underlying yields (rate markets) looking anchored around current levels on weaker macro in the Eurozone, then we will need an unlikely material weakness in spreads to see any further material rise in high yield corporate bond index yields.

High yield bonds >  Fund performance: Euro | Sterling