1. who is brave enough to catch a proverbial falling knife?
2. US industrial activity is contracting and the consumer will soon follow
3. the plunge in crude will lead to further cuts in capex and a profit downturn across many industries
4. China’s economy is slowing and the RMB will soon be devalued
5. share prices need to fall further to offer an attractive risk-adjusted return given heightened economic and market risks
"The irony in this year’s batch of outrageous predictions is that some of them are “outrageous” merely because they run counter to overwhelming market consensus. In fact, many would not look particularly outrageous at all in more “normal” times – if there even is such a thing!"
Soaring junk bond redemptions; rising investment grade (and high yield) yields pressuring corporate buybacks; record corporate leverage and sliding cash flows; Chinese devaluation back with a vengeance; capital outflows from EM accelerating as dollar strength returns; corporate profits and revenues in recession; CEOs most pessimistic since 2012, oh and the Fed's first rate hike in 9 years expected to soak up as much as $800 billion in excess liquidity. To Wall Street's strategists none of this matters: as Bloomberg observes, virtually every single sellside forecasts expects "no end to the bull market."
"... a default cycle in commodity-related areas at this point is unavoidable, and the only real question here is whether it stays contained to those areas or extends itself to other sectors."
Last week we asked (rhetorically) if "something just blew up in junk?" We have the answer today, as triple-hooks (CCC-rated debt) in the junk bond market have crashed through the worst levels of 2011 and are now at the highest yields since July 2009. Amid this complacency still reigns in the equity market (just as it did when the last credit cycle turned).
"It is our humble belief that the consensus at the Fed does not fully understand the magnitude of the problems in corporate credit markets and the unintended consequences of their policy actions."
"Like most turns in the credit cycle, it is uncertain exactly when the bottom will fall out of corporate credit markets, but the catalyst is likely to be an unexpected major event, perhaps even a single company getting into trouble. While we have been bearish on high yield for over a year now, we didn't think the conditions were yet ripe for a collapse. Now they're ripe."
- Ellington Management
"... As the tide of leverage goes out, the full extent of irresponsible lending becomes apparent. The previously virtuous cycle between risk spreads and fundamentals goes into reverse, with lower prices, defaults, and downgrades forcing leveraged investors to sell, leading to even lower prices."
El-Erian Says "The Market Believes Central Banks Are Our Best Friends Forever", Just Don't Show It "Figure 4"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 11/21/2015 16:38 -0500
Liquidity in the junk (and all other markets) is evaporating, and according to Citi the spread between an illiquid and liquid junk bond portfolio just hit 100 bps, the most in the history of the series. Meanwhile according to Mohamed El-Erian "The market is comfortable that whenever we hit a hiccup, the Fed is going to come back in," he said. "It's very deeply embedded that central banks are our best friends forever."
Ten years after Symantec paid $13.5bn for Veritas, Carlyle Group agreed in August to buy the data-storage business for just $8 billion (the biggest LBO of the year). Of course, the buyout deal made sense when the cost of funding was negligible and The Fed had your back but, as Bloomberg reports, amid soaring borrowing costs, banks have pulled the $5.5 billion debt offering for Veritas signaling a clear end to the reach-for-yield, nothing is a problem, bond market's risk appetite.. and if 'growthy' deals like this are being killed, what does that say for distressed bets on Energy M&A deals?
The real risk is that while debt is rising on both a relative and an absolute basis, EBITDA, or cash flow, of both junk companies as well as Investment Grades, has been declining for at least one year. Or rather, while junk-rated companies have seen their EBITDA decline consistently for the past 5 years, the big inflection point was early 2014 when IG EBITDA also plateaued and has since been declining.
Having told the world that it will borrow billions (and cut capex) to "return all free cash to investors," it appears ratings agency S&P just needed to remind McDonalds that Shareholder-friendly releveraging no longer comes for free...
*S&P LWRS MCDONALD'S RTG TO 'BBB+' ON SHR BUYBACK PLANS
Who could have seen that coming?
"Given that we are clearly moving into a higher default environment we believe that equity investors may be inclined not to reward stocks that have large buyback programs. And if this is the case, corporate managers will have a diminished incentive to borrow money to finance buybacks."
"Sluggish activity will spur firms to repurchase shares in an effort to boost EPS growth" - Goldman Sachs