Strategic Fixed Income outlook 2017: keep liquid, sensible; look for opportunities, but don’t force it

28/11/2016

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John Pattullo, Co-Head of Strategic Fixed Income, discusses how the markets were affected by major political events in 2016 and the lessons learnt. As he looks forward to 2017, John shares his views on what themes are likely to dominate the markets given a volatile backdrop and where he looks to find good investment opportunities.


What lessons have you learned from 2016?
2016 has been an interesting year and we have learnt two main lessons. Firstly, that these days no one can predict the outcome of a poll! More interestingly and related to this, was the monetary1 and fiscal2 responses to the two big events — Brexit and the US presidential election. Brexit produced a monetary policy response, as the Bank of England cut interest rates; and while sterling fell sharply, sterling bonds benefited as yields fell and prices rose. In the US, with the election of Donald Trump the opposite was proposed — a fiscal response; the US dollar rose sharply while the bond markets witnessed a sell-off as yields rose. These two events have, however, taught us that we will have opportunities to exploit in the upcoming elections in Europe in 2017.

The second lesson was on ‘liquidity’. In the last year we have significantly increased our holdings of US investment grade3 corporate bonds. Following the surprise election of Trump, in order to protect the portfolios, we took steps to reduce duration (interest rate sensitivity) and were able to sell roughly US$400m of bonds in just two days in the US investment grade market. The transactions were done in an efficient way due to the sheer size and liquidity of this market. That could not have been possible in our traditional hunting ground, the sterling corporate bond market, which is relatively small in size. Thus the need to be in liquid, sensible names that we can easily trade, became ever more apparent. We found that having more pools of liquidity available to us — in US dollar, euro or sterling; government, investment grade, or high yield4 bonds, and loans — proved beneficial at a critical time.

What are the key themes likely to shape the markets in which you invest in 2017? 
In recent weeks, prior to the US presidential election, equity markets were experiencing a small ‘reflation’ rally, as economic data seemed to suggest a return of modest growth and inflation in some parts of the world. We have spoken about this in our videos and articles; but the election of Trump pushed the theme far and wide, with more investors rushing to switch from defensive/expensive stocks into cyclical stocks such as financials, while bond markets sold off.

We believe there is a possibility that the reflation theme might fade by the middle of next year. This is because we are not convinced, and nor are the strategists that we speak to, that Donald Trump can invigorate the US economy meaningfully to justify the very large price moves that we have seen in both the equity and bond markets. We may go back to the deflationary5, secular stagnation6 themes that were prevalent in the bond markets; or secular stagnation with an extra dose of ‘stagflation’7, potentially, next year.

The other big theme is politics, in particular the French and German elections. These could turn out to be big events, and are thus a big focal point for the team. While there could be obvious threats to the European project, we foresee opportunities arising for investment, based on our experience this year in trading some of the election risks and the strategies around them. In fact, there are always things to be doing in the markets and that is what makes them so interesting.

What are your highest conviction positions moving towards the new year?
Secured loans continue to appeal to us and we have reasonably large allocations to this asset class in the portfolios. They are senior, first lien secured (in the event of a default, the lenders will be first to receive repayment from the liquidation of the company’s assets), pay floating interest rates (thus have reduced interest rate sensitivity) and benefit from low volatility, while providing a reasonable yield.

We also like US high yield bonds, where we believe company default rates will remain low. Specifically, domestic facing, large, non-cyclical8 businesses with reasons to exist, that have shorter durations and offer reasonable coupons (interest income).

Finally, we favour some investment grade corporate bonds, and a number of big global banks. We are wary of emerging market corporate bonds, where the going will be tough given a Trump presidency, and European investment grade bonds given their very low yields. We will consider longer-dated investment grade bonds subject to the reflationary and deflationary themes washing through the world.

In short, a lot of loans, high yield and a sprinkling of investment grade.

What should investors expect from your asset class and your portfolio(s) going forward?
Trump has made the bond manager grumpier! It will be a tougher environment for bond managers and probably an easier one for equity managers. While no one knows for certain, it is possible that the situation might reverse by the middle of 2017.

In the short term, it looks like a tougher outlook for bond managers as there will likely be a little more growth and a little more inflation (which erodes the value of most bonds).

That said, we are happy if we can achieve the running yield (total return) of the funds (roughly 4%) for our clients. We believe there will be good opportunities next year where we can use both long and short duration strategies9 once again to the benefit of the portfolios. In summary, we are going to keep liquid, sensible, and look for opportunities, but not force it.

  1. Monetary policy: the policies of a central bank, aimed at influencing the level of inflation and growth in an economy. It includes controlling interest rates and the supply of money.
  2. Fiscal policy: government policy relating to setting tax rates and spending levels. It is separate from monetary policy, which is set by a central bank.
  3. Investment grade: companies that are deemed less risky by credit rating agencies, as they believe there is a strong likelihood that the company will be able to repay its debt.
  4. High yield: companies that are deemed to have a higher risk of default on their debt by credit rating agencies, who assign them a lower credit rating than investment grade corporate or government bonds. To compensate for the increased risk, the debt of these companies pay a higher yield.
  5. Deflation: a sustained fall in the prices of goods and services, and thus the opposite of inflation.
  6. Secular stagnation: excessive savings act as a drag on demand, reducing economic growth and inflation.
  7. Stagflation: a relatively rare situation where rising inflation coincides with anaemic economic growth.
  8. Non-cyclical: companies/industries that provide essential goods, such as utilities or consumer staples. While cyclical businesses produce goods and services that consumers buy when confidence in the economy is high, non-cyclicals produce items and services that consumers cannot put off regardless of the state of the economy, such as gas, food and electricity.
  9. Short and long duration strategies: duration is a measure of the sensitivity of bond prices to changes in interest rates. Bonds with longer maturities and therefore higher duration experience greater fluctuations in their value, falling more in a rising interest rate environment, and vice versa. If interest rates are expected to rise in the future, a portfolio manager would aim to reduce the average duration of the portfolio (go short duration). This could be achieved by simply increasing exposure to shorter maturity/duration bonds, or by using derivatives. Alternatively, in a falling interest rate environment, the manager would extend duration (long duration).

Past performance is not a guide to future performance. The value of an investment and the income from it can fall as well as rise and you may not get back the amount originally invested.

The information in this article does not qualify as an investment recommendation.


Important information

Please read the following important information regarding funds related to this article.

Henderson Diversified Income Trust plc

Before investing in an investment trust referred to in this document, you should satisfy yourself as to its suitability and the risks involved, you may wish to consult a financial adviser.

Past performance is not a guide to future performance. The value of an investment and the income from it can fall as well as rise and you may not get back the amount originally invested. Tax assumptions and reliefs depend upon an investor’s particular circumstances and may change if those circumstances or the law change.

Nothing in this document is intended to or should be construed as advice. This document is not a recommendation to sell or purchase any investment. It does not form part of any contract for the sale or purchase of any investment.

Issued in the UK by Janus Henderson Investors. Janus Henderson Investors is the name under which Henderson Global Investors Limited (reg. no. 906355), Henderson Investment Funds Limited (reg. no. 2678531), AlphaGen Capital Limited (reg. no. 962757), Henderson Equity Partners Limited (reg. no.2606646), (each incorporated and registered in England and Wales with registered office at 201 Bishopsgate, London EC2M 3AE) are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority to provide investment products and services. We may record telephone calls for our mutual protection, to improve customer service and for regulatory record keeping purposes.

Specific risks

  • If a fund is a specialist country-specific or geographic regional fund, the investment carries greater risk than a more internationally diversified portfolio
  • Higher yieldings bonds are issued by companies that may have greater difficulty in repaying their financial obligations. High yield bonds are not traded as frequently as government bonds and therefore may be more difficult to trade in distressed markets

Risk rating

Janus Henderson Fixed Interest Monthly Income Fund

Please read all scheme documents before investing. Before entering into an investment agreement in respect of an investment referred to in this document, you should consult your own professional and/or investment adviser.

Past performance is not a guide to future performance. The value of an investment and the income from it can fall as well as rise and you may not get back the amount originally invested. Tax assumptions and reliefs depend upon an investor’s particular circumstances and may change if those circumstances or the law change.

If you invest through a third party provider you are advised to consult them directly as charges, performance and terms and conditions may differ materially.

Nothing in this document is intended to or should be construed as advice. This document is not a recommendation to sell or purchase any investment. It does not form part of any contract for the sale or purchase of any investment.

Any investment application will be made solely on the basis of the information contained in the Prospectus (including all relevant covering documents), which will contain investment restrictions. This document is intended as a summary only and potential investors must read the prospectus, and where relevant, the key investor information document before investing. Copies of the Fund’s prospectus and key investor information document are available in English, French, German, and Italian. Articles of incorporation, annual and semi-annual reports are available in English. All of these documents can be obtained free of cost from Janus Henderson Investors registered office: 201 Bishopsgate, London EC2M 3AE.

Issued by Janus Henderson Investors. Janus Henderson Investors is the name under which Henderson Global Investors Limited (reg. no. 906355), Henderson Investment Funds Limited (reg. no. 2678531), AlphaGen Capital Limited (reg. no. 962757), Henderson Equity Partners Limited (reg. no.2606646), (each incorporated and registered in England and Wales with registered office at 201 Bishopsgate, London EC2M 3AE) are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority to provide investment products and services. We may record telephone calls for our mutual protection, to improve customer service and for regulatory record keeping purposes.

Copies of the Fund’s prospectus are available in English, French, Spanish German and Dutch. Key investor information documents are available in English, Danish, German, Finnish, French, Italian, Norwegian, Spanish, Swedish and Dutch. Articles of incorporation, annual and semi-annual reports are available in English. All of these documents can be obtained free of cost from the local offices of Janus Henderson Investors: 201 Bishopsgate, London, EC2M 3AE for UK, Swedish and Scandinavian investors; Via Dante 14, 20121 Milan, Italy, for Italian investors and Roemer Visscherstraat 43-45, 1054 EW Amsterdam, the Netherlands. for Dutch investors; and the Fund’s: Austrian Paying Agent Raiffeisen Bank International AG, Am Stadtpark 9, A-1030 Vienna; French Paying Agent BNP Paribas Securities Services, 3, rue d’Antin, F-75002 Paris; German Information Agent Marcard, Stein & Co, Ballindamm 36, 20095 Hamburg; Belgian Financial Service Provider CACEIS Belgium S.A., Avenue du Port 86 C b320, B-1000 Brussels; Spanish Representative Allfunds Bank S.A. Estafeta, 6 Complejo Plaza de la Fuente, La Moraleja, Alcobendas 28109 Madrid; Singapore Representative Henderson Global Investors (Singapore) Limited, 138 Market Street, #34-03/04 CapitaGreen, Singapore 048946; or Swiss Representative BNP Paribas Securities Services, Paris, succursale de Zurich, Selnaustrasse 16, 8002 Zurich who are also the Swiss Paying Agent.

Information on this document is on Henderson's best endeavours.

Specific risks

  • Investment management techniques that have worked well in normal market conditions could prove ineffective or detrimental at other times.
  • This fund is designed to be used only as one component in several in a diversified investment portfolio. Investors should consider carefully the proportion of their portfolio invested into this fund.
  • The Fund could lose money if a counterparty with which it trades becomes unwilling or unable to meet its obligations to the Fund.
  • The value of a bond or money market security may fall if the financial health of the issuer weakens, or the market believes it may weaken. This risk is greater the lower the credit quality of the bond.
  • Derivatives use exposes the Fund to risks different from, and potentially greater than, the risks associated with investing directly in securities and may therefore result in additional loss, which could be significantly greater than the cost of the derivative.
  • Changes in currency exchange rates may cause the value of your investment and any income from it to rise or fall.
  • Measures designed to reduce the impact of certain risks may not be available or may be ineffective.
  • When interest rates rise (or fall), the prices of different securities will be affected differently. In particular, bond values generally fall when interest rates rise. This risk is generally greater the longer the maturity of a bond investment.
  • Leverage arises from entering into contracts or derivatives whose terms have the effect of magnifying an outcome, meaning profits and losses from investment can be greater.
  • Any security could become hard to value or to sell at a desired time and price, increasing the risk of investment losses.

Risk rating

Janus Henderson Preference & Bond Fund

Please read all scheme documents before investing. Before entering into an investment agreement in respect of an investment referred to in this document, you should consult your own professional and/or investment adviser.

Past performance is not a guide to future performance. The value of an investment and the income from it can fall as well as rise and you may not get back the amount originally invested. Tax assumptions and reliefs depend upon an investor’s particular circumstances and may change if those circumstances or the law change.

If you invest through a third party provider you are advised to consult them directly as charges, performance and terms and conditions may differ materially.

Nothing in this document is intended to or should be construed as advice. This document is not a recommendation to sell or purchase any investment. It does not form part of any contract for the sale or purchase of any investment.

Any investment application will be made solely on the basis of the information contained in the Prospectus (including all relevant covering documents), which will contain investment restrictions. This document is intended as a summary only and potential investors must read the prospectus, and where relevant, the key investor information document before investing. Copies of the Fund’s prospectus and key investor information document are available in English, French, German, and Italian. Articles of incorporation, annual and semi-annual reports are available in English. All of these documents can be obtained free of cost from Janus Henderson Investors registered office: 201 Bishopsgate, London EC2M 3AE.

Issued by Janus Henderson Investors. Janus Henderson Investors is the name under which Henderson Global Investors Limited (reg. no. 906355), Henderson Investment Funds Limited (reg. no. 2678531), AlphaGen Capital Limited (reg. no. 962757), Henderson Equity Partners Limited (reg. no.2606646), (each incorporated and registered in England and Wales with registered office at 201 Bishopsgate, London EC2M 3AE) are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority to provide investment products and services. We may record telephone calls for our mutual protection, to improve customer service and for regulatory record keeping purposes.

Copies of the Fund’s prospectus are available in English, French, Spanish German and Dutch. Key investor information documents are available in English, Danish, German, Finnish, French, Italian, Norwegian, Spanish, Swedish and Dutch. Articles of incorporation, annual and semi-annual reports are available in English. All of these documents can be obtained free of cost from the local offices of Janus Henderson Investors: 201 Bishopsgate, London, EC2M 3AE for UK, Swedish and Scandinavian investors; Via Dante 14, 20121 Milan, Italy, for Italian investors and Roemer Visscherstraat 43-45, 1054 EW Amsterdam, the Netherlands. for Dutch investors; and the Fund’s: Austrian Paying Agent Raiffeisen Bank International AG, Am Stadtpark 9, A-1030 Vienna; French Paying Agent BNP Paribas Securities Services, 3, rue d’Antin, F-75002 Paris; German Information Agent Marcard, Stein & Co, Ballindamm 36, 20095 Hamburg; Belgian Financial Service Provider CACEIS Belgium S.A., Avenue du Port 86 C b320, B-1000 Brussels; Spanish Representative Allfunds Bank S.A. Estafeta, 6 Complejo Plaza de la Fuente, La Moraleja, Alcobendas 28109 Madrid; Singapore Representative Henderson Global Investors (Singapore) Limited, 138 Market Street, #34-03/04 CapitaGreen, Singapore 048946; or Swiss Representative BNP Paribas Securities Services, Paris, succursale de Zurich, Selnaustrasse 16, 8002 Zurich who are also the Swiss Paying Agent.

Information on this document is on Henderson's best endeavours.

Specific risks

  • Investment management techniques that have worked well in normal market conditions could prove ineffective or detrimental at other times.
  • This fund is designed to be used only as one component in several in a diversified investment portfolio. Investors should consider carefully the proportion of their portfolio invested into this fund.
  • The Fund could lose money if a counterparty with which it trades becomes unwilling or unable to meet its obligations to the Fund.
  • The value of a bond or money market security may fall if the financial health of the issuer weakens, or the market believes it may weaken. This risk is greater the lower the credit quality of the bond.
  • Derivatives use exposes the Fund to risks different from, and potentially greater than, the risks associated with investing directly in securities and may therefore result in additional loss, which could be significantly greater than the cost of the derivative.
  • Changes in currency exchange rates may cause the value of your investment and any income from it to rise or fall.
  • Measures designed to reduce the impact of certain risks may not be available or may be ineffective.
  • When interest rates rise (or fall), the prices of different securities will be affected differently. In particular, bond values generally fall when interest rates rise. This risk is generally greater the longer the maturity of a bond investment.
  • Leverage arises from entering into contracts or derivatives whose terms have the effect of magnifying an outcome, meaning profits and losses from investment can be greater.
  • Any security could become hard to value or to sell at a desired time and price, increasing the risk of investment losses.

Risk rating

Janus Henderson Strategic Bond Fund

Please read all scheme documents before investing. Before entering into an investment agreement in respect of an investment referred to in this document, you should consult your own professional and/or investment adviser.

Past performance is not a guide to future performance. The value of an investment and the income from it can fall as well as rise and you may not get back the amount originally invested. Tax assumptions and reliefs depend upon an investor’s particular circumstances and may change if those circumstances or the law change.

If you invest through a third party provider you are advised to consult them directly as charges, performance and terms and conditions may differ materially.

Nothing in this document is intended to or should be construed as advice. This document is not a recommendation to sell or purchase any investment. It does not form part of any contract for the sale or purchase of any investment.

Any investment application will be made solely on the basis of the information contained in the Prospectus (including all relevant covering documents), which will contain investment restrictions. This document is intended as a summary only and potential investors must read the prospectus, and where relevant, the key investor information document before investing. Copies of the Fund’s prospectus and key investor information document are available in English, French, German, and Italian. Articles of incorporation, annual and semi-annual reports are available in English. All of these documents can be obtained free of cost from Janus Henderson Investors registered office: 201 Bishopsgate, London EC2M 3AE.

Issued by Janus Henderson Investors. Janus Henderson Investors is the name under which Henderson Global Investors Limited (reg. no. 906355), Henderson Investment Funds Limited (reg. no. 2678531), AlphaGen Capital Limited (reg. no. 962757), Henderson Equity Partners Limited (reg. no.2606646), (each incorporated and registered in England and Wales with registered office at 201 Bishopsgate, London EC2M 3AE) are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority to provide investment products and services. We may record telephone calls for our mutual protection, to improve customer service and for regulatory record keeping purposes.

Copies of the Fund’s prospectus are available in English, French, Spanish German and Dutch. Key investor information documents are available in English, Danish, German, Finnish, French, Italian, Norwegian, Spanish, Swedish and Dutch. Articles of incorporation, annual and semi-annual reports are available in English. All of these documents can be obtained free of cost from the local offices of Janus Henderson Investors: 201 Bishopsgate, London, EC2M 3AE for UK, Swedish and Scandinavian investors; Via Dante 14, 20121 Milan, Italy, for Italian investors and Roemer Visscherstraat 43-45, 1054 EW Amsterdam, the Netherlands. for Dutch investors; and the Fund’s: Austrian Paying Agent Raiffeisen Bank International AG, Am Stadtpark 9, A-1030 Vienna; French Paying Agent BNP Paribas Securities Services, 3, rue d’Antin, F-75002 Paris; German Information Agent Marcard, Stein & Co, Ballindamm 36, 20095 Hamburg; Belgian Financial Service Provider CACEIS Belgium S.A., Avenue du Port 86 C b320, B-1000 Brussels; Spanish Representative Allfunds Bank S.A. Estafeta, 6 Complejo Plaza de la Fuente, La Moraleja, Alcobendas 28109 Madrid; Singapore Representative Henderson Global Investors (Singapore) Limited, 138 Market Street, #34-03/04 CapitaGreen, Singapore 048946; or Swiss Representative BNP Paribas Securities Services, Paris, succursale de Zurich, Selnaustrasse 16, 8002 Zurich who are also the Swiss Paying Agent.

Information on this document is on Henderson's best endeavours.

Specific risks

  • Investment management techniques that have worked well in normal market conditions could prove ineffective or detrimental at other times.
  • This fund is designed to be used only as one component in several in a diversified investment portfolio. Investors should consider carefully the proportion of their portfolio invested into this fund.
  • The Fund could lose money if a counterparty with which it trades becomes unwilling or unable to meet its obligations to the Fund.
  • The value of a bond or money market security may fall if the financial health of the issuer weakens, or the market believes it may weaken. This risk is greater the lower the credit quality of the bond.
  • Derivatives use exposes the Fund to risks different from, and potentially greater than, the risks associated with investing directly in securities and may therefore result in additional loss, which could be significantly greater than the cost of the derivative.
  • Changes in currency exchange rates may cause the value of your investment and any income from it to rise or fall.
  • Measures designed to reduce the impact of certain risks may not be available or may be ineffective.
  • When interest rates rise (or fall), the prices of different securities will be affected differently. In particular, bond values generally fall when interest rates rise. This risk is generally greater the longer the maturity of a bond investment.
  • Leverage arises from entering into contracts or derivatives whose terms have the effect of magnifying an outcome, meaning profits and losses from investment can be greater.
  • Any security could become hard to value or to sell at a desired time and price, increasing the risk of investment losses.

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Fund name changes

Please note that from the 15 December 2017 funds previously named Janus or Henderson have been renamed Janus Henderson. This change aligns our product names with our name, Janus Henderson Investors, following the merger of Janus Capital and Henderson Global Investors in May 2017.

This name change does not impact on the management of the underlying funds and investors and advisers are not required to take any action.