Category Archives:

ratings

Heinz: Beans, Buffett and the return of animal spirits

After years of inactivity, the combination of strong corporate balance sheets and cheap funding has sparked demand for takeover deals. The largest and highest profile deal this year has been the acquisition of H.J.Heinz by 3G Capital and Berkshire Hathaway. It is exactly the type of business that Berkshire Hathaway’s Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett typically goes for: profitable growth; a very …

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Conference Call replay link: the UK’s AAA White Elephant – thank goodness it’s gone, now we can try to grow again.

In old Siam (now Thailand), kings would ruin unliked courtiers by presenting them with a white elephant – supposedly a badge of honour, but actually a dung producing money-pit. As Wikipedia describes it, nowadays a white elephant is an idiom for “a valuable but burdensome possession of which its owner cannot dispose and whose cost (particularly cost of upkeep) is out of proportion to its useful…

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6 degrees of Kevin Bacon, 5 ways to catch a subscriber – consolidation in cable

I’d been feeling pretty pleased with myself since last Saturday – I managed to get Sky TV, broadband and a landline installed in my flat. That was until earlier today, when after discussing some of the recent activity in this sector with our telecoms and media analyst, I was left feeling something of a technology dinosaur.

These three services sold as a single package is called a “triple play” …

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South Africa should be rated junk, and that really matters if you’re an EM debt investor

The worrying developments in South Africa in the past few months have caught the attention of the ratings agencies and the markets (see first chart).  South Africa is one of very few emerging market countries whose credit rating is deteriorating; it’s still officially rated investment grade, but we think it should already carry a junk credit rating and the market is not pricing this in.  And co…

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Fallen Angel Delight – looking at returns from “junked” companies

Earlier this year, Stefan highlighted the potential for sovereign debt downgrades to push big European companies into high yield territory becoming “fallen angels”, issuers downgraded from investment grade to high yield. This is something the Financial Times has also recently picked up on. The chart below shows how near the average European sovereign ratings are to sub-investment grade.

Rating…

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The UK’s current account deficit keeps getting worse. Terrible numbers today – time to reduce sterling exposure?

There were some reasons to be cheerful in today’s UK economic data – second quarter GDP growth wasn’t quite as bad as previously thought (the economy shrank by 0.4% rather than 0.5%), and stripping out the weak construction sector, the economy is growing at a reasonable (if below trend) rate.

But we also had news that the UK’s current account deficit showed a significant deterioration. The gap …

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The quiet de-coupling of high yield from equity markets continues

High yield and equities have historically been seen as highly correlated in terms of their returns, and before 2008, this was true. However, what we have witnessed in the post-Lehman environment is a structural shift that requires a more nuanced appreciation of the relationship between fixed income and equities. This is something we looked at in a more in depth piece we published earlier this y…

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Peripheral corporate bonds and mass downgrade risk

Staying with the Bon Jovi theme, ‘Ugly’ was a track released by Jon Bon Jovi on his second solo album in 1998. It isn’t well known, or any good for that matter, but it does aptly describe the price action of Spanish and Italian corporate paper of late.

Plenty of attention has been paid to the yield on Spanish and Italian govies – currently around 7% and 6% for 10-year bonds – but their bellweth…

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US – a video from Chicago. Research trip on the US High Yield market

I recently returned from Chicago after a research trip. We put together a short video to share a few of our findings with the wider world. The mood of most economists, investors and indeed the man on the street was noticeably more upbeat than in Europe. With positive GDP growth, a housing market showing the first signs of stabilisation, if not growth, and – in our opinion – a banking system tha…

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Why does UK government guaranteed Network Rail keep issuing debt in its own name – and at a higher cost?

Network Rail, the organisation that owns and manages the UK’s rail infrastructure, has just issued more of three tranches of its index-linked corporate bonds.  These bonds are, like all of Network Rail’s debt, rated AAA and fully guaranteed by the UK government (the business was effectively nationalised in 2002 having bought Railtrack out of administration) .  These bonds were issued with sprea…

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