Dirty Energy Is the Lone Junk Winner in Credit's Brutal Year
Comment of the Day

December 21 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Dirty Energy Is the Lone Junk Winner in Credit's Brutal Year

This article from Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

Junk-bond investors had almost no way to avoid losses this year, and shunning dirty energy only made the pain deeper. The best return -- one of very few gains -- was in coal, highlighting challenges for investors who need to perform but also want to be sustainable.

Junk’s 11% loss this year -- the worst since the global financial crisis -- was led by communications and consumer non-cyclical bonds, down 15% and 13%, respectively. Energy performed best in the US high-yield index, down about 5% overall.

Coal -- albeit a very small chunk of the corporate bond market -- is up 3.2%, while oil and gas services debt gained 1.7%. That compares with a global credit market that’s down double digits in most market segments this year, with particularly steep losses for longer-dated debt.

Credit markets are forecast to see a broad-based rebound next year and with many sectors trading cheap to history, junk energy probably won’t be the best again in 2023. But so long as oil prices stay supported by conflict and reopening, it should at least be a buttress for bond portfolios likely to take another beating from inflation next year.

Eoin Treacy's view

The energy sector has been the best performer in S&P500 for two consecutive years. The fact it is also leading performance in the junk bond market is a testament to the strength of commodity prices in a geopolitically tense environment.

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