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Convertible bonds ‘gaining popularity’ in alternatives market

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Convertible bonds are gaining popularity with investors looking for safer alternatives in today’s “uncertain” financial market, according to a senior portfolio manager at Dutch asset manager NN Investment Partners.

Convertible bonds are a type of debt security that can be converted into a “predetermined amount of a company’s equity” at certain times during the bond’s life.

This year, convertible bond issuance volume has been the highest in the US, around $50bn, and one of the highest globally, around $85bn (€75bn), since before the global financial crisis.

Naturally seeking

Ivan Nikolov, senior portfolio manager of convertible bond strategies at NN Investment Partners, told sister publication International Adviser: “Against increasing interest rates, market volatility and geo-political uncertainty, many investors are naturally seeking safer alternatives for their assets.

“One asset class which has successfully weathered multiple market cycles and which has been gaining in popularity is convertible bonds.

“Their embedded equity call options allow investors to profit when the market is rising, while their coupons and fixed redemptions provide a floor should negative outcomes materialise.

“Convertible bonds also exhibit a negative correlation to government bonds and therefore tend to decrease a portfolio’s interest rate risk.”

New opportunities

Nikolov added: “For investors, the recent surge in convertible bond issuance provides a wide range of opportunities within the market, especially in companies which have no other investable debt that could diversify credit exposure.

“With volatile but rising stock markets, convertible bonds could be a risk-efficient way to retain equity exposure.

“There is one caveat, however: the convertible bond part would only protect investors and dampen volatility as long as it holds onto its own perceived credit value.

“Rigorous credit analysis performed by an active manager is of utmost importance for investors seeking adequate protection for their capital, especially given that most convertible bonds are not rated by the main credit rating agencies.

“With asymmetrical returns and low interest rate risk, convertible bonds are an excellent opportunity for investors to remain invested in economic growth while navigating the market storms.”

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Robbie Lawther

Robbie is a reporter for International Adviser, covering global news stories about the financial services industry. He joined Last Word Media in October 2018 after nearly two years working at...

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