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Which European Investment Grade Asset Manager?

Investment Grade Credit
Fixed Income

The Case for New European Investment Grade Bond Managers

RFPnetworks Investment Grade Credit Research depicted by man in hoody with chalk board behind him with flexed arms.

Looking at the latest fixed income asset allocation outlooks, European Investment Grade Credit is frequently overweight. But for very specific reasons. This is leading asset manager selectors to spend more time uncovering more managers that can tap into the latest alpha soruces. Here's what they are discussing.

Whilst fixed income portfolios have had a tough year, everything is relative. When it comes to fixed income asset allocation, that is often measured by the z-score. And as things stand today, this metric is leading both US and European investors to look closely at European Investment Grade Credit.

This comes at a time when the ECB has pushed out a 75 basis points rise at its October meeting. This was in line with market expectations. But the new dovish tone in delivery has the market believing in a 2.5% terminal rate. The path to which will be smaller steps. Followed by a pause ahead of peak inflation to accommodate the impact lag of tightening, and therefore reduce any unnecessary burden on the economy.

In other words, fixed income manager selectors are interested in allocating more to European Investment Grade Credit today, but are being selective on the managers they talk to. And in particular, focusing on the managers that can deliver high quality credit portfolios, with the highest spreads for the lowest default risk as the recession creeps in.

But differentiating the European Investment Grade Universe of Investment Managers is not easy. Par for manager selectors is often equivalent to enough alpha to cover the management fees. But in today's market, the opportunity to generate even more alpha is becoming seductive, necessary, but also possible - depending on the investment managers you find.

At this stage in the credit cycle, sector dispersion is large. And with so many unknowns ahead, that cross-sector relative value may grow wider. And even more so across the issuers within the sectors themselves. Deep credit research and selectivity are always important at every stage of the cycle. But not necessarily for the same reasons. Todays those reasons are clear. Risk mitigation and alpha maximisation.

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Investment Grade Credit Posts Worst Monthly Performance Since March 2020

Despite a traumatic April for Investment Grade Credit, investors are focused on the decade high yields the asset class now offers. Levels that are now comparable to that of High Yield at the start of 2022. But what story do the fundamentals tell?

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Which Industries Are Most Exposed to Inflation?

Whilst many companies have been able to pass on input inflation to consumers, the question is how much pricing power still remains?

And more importantly, does their product demand curve exhibit sufficient inelasticity to sustain profitability and keep balance sheets strong.

The answer varies across industries, with potential credit rating downgrade risk potentially on the horizon.

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Have We Reached Late Stage Euphoria in the Credit Cycle?

And if so, are U.S. high yield investors at risk of being over-leveraged at the end of the longest economic cycles in history?

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