Henderson is investing resources in building a global credit franchise, led by Stephen Thariyan. In February 2013, Henderson announced the appointment of Kevin Loome as manager of U.S. corporate bonds, and his team of five specialists. With these engagements Henderson built a U.S. credit team based in Philadelphia that complements its European fixed income franchise. As confirmed by Thariyan during an interview with Funds Society, the next step will be the hiring of a specialist emerging fixed income team. “That way we will have all the resources to position ourselves in the credit subclass, which offers the best prospects for profitability,” says Henderson Global Investors’ global head of corporate debt.
The next few years will be quite different to what we have seen in the credit markets during the last five years; a period in which “everyone did well without doing anything special, other than being in the asset class,” says Thariyan. The outlook is more complicated now, mainly because investors are “accustomed to double-digit returns.”
A reduction in returns which ultimately did not happen had been expected for 2013. In fact, most experts predicted that the high yield credit market would see a year in which the investor would earn "the coupon" rate, about 5.5%, for the European high yield market. However, as Thariyan points out, the reality was different and the high yield market favorably surprised investors by giving them returns of 11%.
Looking to 2014, the expert points out two focal areas in the credit market. “First, there are still some interesting returns in some sub-asset classes such as high yield and emerging market debt. Moreover, unlike what happened in recent years, this period will not be dominated by the actions of central banks, so this is a year in which the selection of securities becomes important once again.”
Given this much more complicated scenario, Thariyan emphasized that “more than a great rotation from debt into stock, it is internal rotation which is occurring within the credit market”, both geographically, favoring regions where monetary stimuli remain, and in absolute return management products, “which offer protection against duration risk.”
Thariyan explains that, his team’s goal is to provide an additional market return exceeding 50 bp for the entire credit range by selecting appropriate strategies and emissions. “Now is the time to have a good credit analyst team generating the most value,” he added that for performanceit is very important to access the largest possible universe of securities and “to be willing to leave the index if it is suitable for the portfolio.”
Since the year 2009, Henderson has applied four levers in order to obtain alpha in their fixed income portfolios: a good selection of securities, ignoring the index, using credit derivatives and performing active duration management.
Thus, Henderson has already achieved great success in European IG Credit where it has a strategy which leads the market with 1,700 million dollars in assets under management, as well as in its absolute return strategy, Credit Alpha, which has had a soft close in November to approach the figure of 1,000 million pounds, an amount which the credit team considers the limit in order to optimize fund performance considering the operational costs involved in the strategy. Just over a year ago they launched their strategy for European high yield, which is ranked among the most profitable in its category, and three months ago, relying on Kevin Loome’s team in Philadelphia, Henderson launched a global high yield strategy. Overall, Henderson manages 20,000 million dollars in fixed income strategies.
“We hope to be ready to complete this deal with emerging fixed income strategies soon so that in two or three years we will have a truly global deal on credit, and have accumulated a significant track record for investors,” he concludes.