Ratings firms investigate each bond issuer’s financial condition (including municipal bond issuers) and assign ratings to the bonds on the market. Each agency follows a similar structure to enable investors compare the credit rating of a bond to that of other bonds. “Investment-grade” bonds have a rating of BBB- (on the Standard & Poor’s and Fitch scales) or Baa3 (on the Moody’s scale) or higher. Bonds with lower ratings are referred to as “high-yield” or “junk” bonds since they are deemed “speculative.”
Which bonds have the best returns?
- High-yield bonds, sometimes known as “junk” bonds, are corporate debt securities that pay greater interest rates than investment-grade bonds due to their lower credit ratings.
- These bonds have S&P credit ratings of BBB- or Moody’s credit ratings of Baa3.
- High-yield bonds are riskier than investment-grade bonds, but they provide greater interest rates and potential long-term gains.
- Junk bonds, in particular, are more prone to default and have far more price volatility.
Is BBB superior to BB?
Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s employ separate designations to indicate a bond’s credit quality rating, which consist of the upper- and lower-case letters “A” and “B.” Investment grade is defined as “AAA” and “AA” (high credit quality) and “A” and “BBB” (medium credit quality). Bonds with credit ratings below these categories (“BB,” “B,” “CCC,” and so on) are referred to as “junk bonds” because they have a low credit grade.
Junk Bond Pros
- Junk bonds have a higher profit potential than regular bonds. Junk bonds have higher yields than investment-grade bonds due to the heightened risk.
- If an issuer’s performance improves, bonds may gain value. When a corporation is actively paying down debt and improving its performance, the bond’s value might rise as the rating of the issuing company rises.
- Individual stocks are less dependable. Individual stocks may be riskier than investment-grade bonds, although they may not be as risky as individual stocks. When a firm goes bankrupt, bondholders are paid first, followed by investors.
Junk Bond Cons
- The default rate on junk bonds is greater. Junk bonds, on the other hand, have a larger risk of default than investment-grade bonds. In 2020, the default rate for junk bonds was 5.5 percent, according to S&P Global Ratings. Investment-grade bonds, on the other hand, have a default rate of 0.00 percent.
- Liquidity issues. Liquidity concerns with high-yield bonds might make it difficult to sell them for cash when you need it.
- When credit ratings are reduced, the value of junk bonds can plummet. Junk bonds may lose their value. If a company’s credit rating falls much further, the bond’s value will plummet.
Junk Bond Examples
Junk bonds are often associated with smaller enterprises or companies in financial distress. They are, however, frequently issued by well-known companies with long histories, as well as new companies with no track record. Coinbase and Crocs are two recent examples.
Coinbase is a cryptocurrency exchange that saw a surge in demand in 2020 and 2021 as more people purchased cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Dogecoin. In April 2021, Coinbase became public, and in September, it saw a surge in demand for a large junk bond sale. Coinbase’s initial bond offering was for $1.5 billion in seven- and ten-year notes, but demand was so high that it was increased to $2 billion.
Following the announcement of the sale, Moody’s assigned Coinbase a Ba2 junk rating, citing a “uncertain regulatory environment and strong competition” for the non-investment grade rating. While Coinbase has a leading crypto franchise, its profits are virtually completely reliant on highly risky cryptocurrency trading, according to Moody’s.
Crocs, the company known for its comfortable but obnoxious clogs, said in August 2021 that it will issue $350 million in junk bonds to support stock buybacks. Crocs is rated Ba3 by Moody’s, only behind Coinbase’s Ba2 speculative-grade rating.
Crocs has a well-known brand, a dominant position in the clog market, and reasonable liquidity, according to Moody’s. However, the company’s restricted product focus (clogs) and the high degree of competition in the footwear sector are cited as factors for it not receiving a higher ranking. Furthermore, it went back to a time before it straightened up its operations, when profits were inconsistent.
What exactly are AAA bonds?
Bonds with the highest level of creditworthiness are given the highest possible rating, AAA. AAA-rated bonds are issued by companies that can satisfy all of their financial obligations and have the lowest risk of default. Companies can also be given a AAA grade.
AAA is used by rating organizations such as Standard & Poor’s (S&P) and Fitch Ratings to identify bonds of the highest credit quality. Moody’s uses a similar ‘Aaa’ to indicate a bond’s top tier credit rating.
When the term “default” is used in this context, it refers to a bond issuer failing to pay an investor the principle amount of interest due. Because AAA-bonds have the lowest risk of default, they also have the lowest payback compared to other bonds with identical maturity dates.
Microsoft (MFST) and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) were the only two corporations in the world to receive the AAA grade in 2020. (JNJ). AAA ratings are highly prized, and many corporations lost their AAA ratings during the 2008 financial crisis. Only four corporations in the S&P 500 had the AAA rating as of mid-2009.
What does the BBB index stand for?
The WisdomTree Fundamental U.S. BBB Corporate Bond Index is a rule-based alternatively weighted index designed to track the performance of chosen issuers in the lowest tier of the US investment grade corporate bond market with appealing fundamental and income characteristics. The Index uses a multi-step process to identify bonds based on fundamentals.
It starts with individuals who have favorable features and then moves on to those who have attractive income attributes. The Index is made up of stocks from the United States.
corporate bonds issued by public companies based in the United States. Debt securities must meet certain criteria in order to be included in the Index.
fixed coupons having a par value of at least $500 million and a remaining maturity of at least one year Component
At least two rating organizations will assign a BBB grade to securities.
What types of businesses have a BBB bond rating?
Due to loan repayments at AT&T and General Electric, which offset United Technologies’ and Broadcom’s borrowing to fund acquisitions, debt levels and leverage for the top 10 borrowers have declined marginally this year. The weighted average leverage has decreased marginally, from 3.2x at the end of 2018 to 3x in mid-2019.
In 2020, we predict credit metrics to improve further, with the bulk of the top ten keeping reasonably constant metrics and a few achieving more significant improvements. We expect GE, CVS Health, and United Technologies to reduce their leverage in 2020, owing to asset sales, sustained debt payments, and an all-stock merger, respectively.
Meanwhile, the top 10’s downgrade risk and upgrade potential are fairly matched. In reality, Verizon and United Technologies are both rated ‘BBB+,’ the highest rating in the ‘BBB’ category. Verizon’s rating outlook is positive, while United Technologies’ rating is on CreditWatch with positive implications, implying that both businesses could be upgraded to the ‘A’ category in 2020.
By 2020, Verizon’s focus on debt reduction should allow it to achieve an adjusted leverage of 2.5x. As of June 2019, the company’s leverage was 2.7x, and we believe it has a high chance of reducing leverage to below 2.5x by 2020, which is our criterion for an upgrade to ‘A-.’ The proposed combination of Raytheon and United Technologies’ aerospace companies (Pratt & Whitney and Collins Aerospace) is intended to boost the merged company’s credit metrics, scale, and diversification. Once the transaction closes and we have completed our analysis of the transaction, we may upgrade our rating of the company up to two notches, to ‘A.’
Ford Motor Company, Energy Transfer L.P., and Broadcom Inc. all have a BBB- rating. These accounts for 27% of the top ten debts. The prospects appear to be stable.
Broadly Stable Leverage Expected For Top 10 ‘BBB’ Companies In EMEA
The ten largest nonfinancial corporates in EMEA that we rate in the ‘BBB’ category also have a lot of debt—nearly $800 billion in gross reported debt outstanding (approximately €720 billion) (as of June 30, 2019). At around one-third of the $2.3 trillion borrowed by all ‘BBB’ category corporates in the region, we consider this to be a high degree of concentration. (Note that this figure does not include the $1.4 trillion in rated “BBB” debt, but it does include all debt borrowed by these issuers.) For a complete list of the top 10 ‘BBB’ EMEA corporations, see table 4 in Appendix I.
Are high bond yields beneficial?
High-yield bonds are neither good nor bad investments on their own. A high yield bond is one that has a credit rating that is below investment grade, such as below S&P’s BBB. The higher yield compensates for the higher risk associated with a lower credit grade on the bonds.
Higher-quality bonds’ performance is less associated with stock market performance than high-yield bonds’ performance. Profits tend to drop as the economy suffers, as does the ability of high yield bond issuers to make interest and principal payments (in general). As a result, high yield bond prices are falling. Declining profits also tend to decrease stock values, so it’s easy to understand how good or negative economic news could drive equities and high yield bonds to move in lockstep.