Investors now face higher interest rates in the longer term, both in the US and the euro area. In this environment, one should focus on medium-term growth, inflation and market expectations. We maintain our view on the attractiveness of corporate bonds in both absolute and relative terms.
In the first six trading weeks of the current year, investors have already played through or implemented several macroeconomic scenarios. At the turn of the year, capital markets tended to assume only a “slight” recession or, in the opposite case, a “hard landing” of the US economy. This was then quickly replaced by a “soft landing” scenario. After the recent surprisingly robust economic data from the US, especially with regard to the labour market, the question of a “no landing” is now being raised. In this scenario, parts of the economy would cool down too little too fast, while others would accelerate again, leading to renewed price pressure in the system.
The media, with the urge to create news every day, naturally feel right at home in such a rapidly changing environment. But this also contributes to volatility in the capital markets, as the focus of the business media is often only on the next few days and at best weeks. In such a phase, investors should focus on medium-term expectations of growth and inflation and take into account what the markets – above all the fixed-income market – have been pricing in for the coming quarters.
Probably the most important change in the last four weeks is that investors are now facing higher interest rates for longer. This is because both with regard to the Federal Reserve and with a view to the European Central Bank (ECB), higher key interest rates are now being expected and also that these will remain high for a longer period of time.
In the US, one more interest rate step is now expected, but we would currently write this off as background noise. Whether interest rates peak at 5% or 5.25% makes no difference in our view. However, hopes of quick interest rate cuts, or a so-called “pivot”, have been clearly rejected and more than 100 basis points (in four interest rate steps) have been removed from the markets' expectations. We remain of the opinion that the US central bank still has little flexibility for a real pivot.
The picture is similar in the euro area, where financial markets now expect the ECB to keep its key interest rates at a higher level for a longer period. In its current forecasts, the ECB assumes an inflation rate in the eurozone of 6.3% and a core rate of 4.2% by the end of 2023. This hardly leaves any room for interest rate cuts.
On both sides of the Atlantic we therefore expect higher interest rates for a longer period of time, provided there is no global recession – a scenario that seems to be off the table, at least for the time being. We can therefore conclude that the potential for interest rate cuts has vanished.
Indeed, credit spreads have fallen in recent weeks as extreme scenarios such as a recession or an energy crisis in Europe have been priced out again. Nevertheless, with the rise in interest rates at the short end, the attraction is still there. In the US, the yield on short-term corporate bonds is at the same level as the earnings yield of the S&P 500, which is why we maintain our assessment of the attractiveness of corporate bonds in both absolute and relative terms.
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Employees of LGT Capital Partners Ltd., Pfäffikon, LGT Bank Ltd., Vaduz, LGT Bank (Switzerland) Ltd. and LGT Bank AG, Zweigniederlassung Österreich, who are responsible for compiling and/or distributing financial analyses, are subject to the applicable regulations as prescribed by law and supervisory legislation. In particular, measures were taken to avoid conflicts of interest (e.g. checking information exchanged with other employees, independence of the remuneration of the employees concerned, preventing the exertion of influence on these employees, compliance with rules on employee transactions, etc.). In addition, the handling of financial analyses is governed by an internal, group-wide directive issued by LGT Group Foundation, Vaduz. Adherence to the regulations and organizational instructions is monitored by a Compliance Officer.
Reference regarding analysis history
If this analysis was made available to any issuers mentioned in the publication prior to its distribution or publication, no changes were made to the price or rating after the issuer’s feedback. Important references for Liechtenstein can be found in articles 3 to 6 FinMV [Financial Analysis Market Abuse Ordinance], for Switzerland in the Swiss Bankers Association Directives on the Independence of Financial Research, and for Austria in section 48 BörseG [Stock Exchange Act], the Austrian analysis principles of the Österreichische Vereinigung für Finanzanalyse und Asset Management [Austrian Association for Financial Analysis and Asset Management, ÖVFA] and the Austrian Society of Investment Professionals (ASIP) and the Standard Compliance Code of the Austrian banking sector. A history of all ratings and recommendations is available at your LGT relationship manager.
Essential sources of information
Our analysts draw on publicly accessible information we consider to be reliable. For the compilation of the analysis, publications by domestic and foreign media and news services (e.g. Reuters, Bloomberg, VWD etc.), business publications, trade publications, statistics and rating agencies were used, together with information from the issuers of the analyzed securities – mainly via the Internet, but also in writing or by telephone. We also procure information from investment banks (sell-side research and primary research).
Reference regarding valuation rates
Unless otherwise stated or specified, the rates used in the analysis are normally the share prices provided by the news agencies Reuters and/or Bloomberg at the close of the stock exchange of the domestic market of the analyzed security or the relevant principal market of this security on the respective local stock exchange on the eve of the day of compilation.
Explanation of investment recommendations for stocks
We apply a “hybrid approach” (internal fundamental analysis combined with “theScreener”, an external, purely quantitative analysis tool). TheScreener is based on purely quantitative, i.e. computable variables such as (but not exclusively restricted to) profit adjustments of the past few weeks, stock valuation in relation to historical performance and comparison groups, the technical trend, performance in relation to the market etc. The assessment of the equity analysts, which is largely based on a qualitative analysis, does not need to match with the one of theScreener. For the overall judgement the assessment of the equity analysts overrides the one of theScreener. LGT Bank (Switzerland) Ltd. categorizes its analysis recommendations into five ratings: for a “Buy” recommendation we expect a relative outperformance compared with the sector. Only equities subjected to an internal fundamental analysis can be rated “Buy”. The recommendation “Attractive” is used for equities exclusively ranked by theScreener without any internal fundamental analysis as “slightly positive” or “positive”. A moderate relative outperformance versus the index is expected. For equities that we rate as “Hold” we expect a performance largely in line with the one of the sector. This can comprise both equities for which a fundamental analysis has been carried out as well as equities that theScreener ranks as “neutral” versus the index. The recommendation “Unattractive” is used for equities exclusively ranked by theScreener without any internal fundamental analysis as “slightly negative”. A moderate relative underperformance versus the index is expected. By contrast, “Sell” recommendations are based on the expectation of a relative underperformance compared with the sector. This can comprise both equities for which we are recommending “Sell” for fundamental reasons as well as equities that theScreener ranks as “negative” versus the index. Therefore the ratings always reflect a relative consideration versus the sector and/or specified index. The risk assessment is based on the individual judgement of the analyst (e.g. we assume a “high” risk for illiquid shares, highly indebted companies or shares from developing countries).
Reference regarding share valuation basis: The analysis compiled by LGT Bank (Switzerland) Ltd. are essentially based on secondary research relating to fundamental and quantitative analysis. Generally accepted valuation methods (valuation multiples, return figures, sector comparisons, comparisons with past valuations etc.) are used for this. The forecasts for the quantitative analysis are prepared with the help of mathematical-statistical procedures (see statements above concerning the analysis tool “theScreener”). Economic indicators such as interest rates, currencies, commodity prices and assumptions relating to the economy are included in the overall assessment. The mood of the market also affects the company valuation. Moreover, many of the approaches are based on estimates and expectations that may change quickly and without warning, depending on developments specific to the industry. Therefore, the recommendations derived from the analysis can also change accordingly. The investment judgements generally refer to a period of 6 to 12 months. However, they are also subject to market conditions and represent a snapshot of the situation. They may be achieved more quickly or more slowly or be revised upwards or downwards.
Explanation of investment recommendations for bonds
We employ both qualitative and quantitative methods to derive our recommendations, which are to be seen as relative to sector/quality peers among comparable maturities. “Buy” and “Sell” recommendations demand a qualitative in-house analyst opinion, in which we incorporate both historical and projected financial results and credit metrics as well as past and anticipated company and sector-specific observations and trends. We recommend “Buy” for a security for which we expect a strong relative outperformance compared to sector/quality peers among comparable maturities. We recommend “Sell” if we expect strong relative underperformance compared to sector/quality peers among comparable maturities. The ratings “Attractive”, “Hold” and “Unattractive” can be based purely on a quantitative approach, which includes the market price of credit risk, valuation of equities and associated instruments, corporate leverage, liability structure, size, and agency rating. We recommend “Attractive” for a security for which we expect a relative outperformance compared to sector/quality peers among comparable maturities. We recommend “Hold” if we expect an average performance compared to sector/quality peers among comparable maturities. We recommend “Unattractive” if we expect a relative underperformance compared to sector/quality peers among comparable maturities.
This publication does not constitute either an issuing or listing prospectus, nor any other kind of prospectus. This publication also does not constitute any offer for subscription or any other transaction or obligation.
Definition of rating categories of S&P and Moody’s which are relevant for us:
AAA/Aaa: Borrower with highest credit quality. Default risk also virtually negligible over the longer term
AA/Aa: Safe investment, default risk virtually negligible but more difficult to assess in the longer term
A: Safe investment as long as no unforeseen events impair the overall economy or sector
BBB/Baa: Average investment. However, problems must be expected if the overall economy deteriorates
BB/Ba: Speculative investment. Defaults must be expected if the economic situation deteriorates
B: Highly speculative investment. Defaults are likely if the economic situation deteriorates
For more information on our methodology for bonds, please contact your LGT relationship manager or your local LGT Group company.
No guarantee is provided that the publications and information are up to date. Investment decisions should therefore always be made on the basis of the current prospectus and/or the complete documentation and publication of the third party/fund issuer (in particular the key investor information) and following consultation with an expert. This fund recommendation does not meet all the statutory requirements for guaranteeing the impartiality of financial research. The Swiss Bankers Association Directives on the Independence of Financial Research do not apply to this recommendation. It does not constitute financial analysis within the meaning of the Liechtenstein Ordinance on the Preparation of Financial Analysis according to the Law against Market Abuse in the Trading of Financial Instruments. LGT Bank (Switzerland) Ltd. and/or its affiliated companies are not subject to any prohibition of trading prior to the publication of financial research with regard to the recommended funds. The research can form the basis for the investment decisions of LGT Bank (Switzerland) Ltd. itself and/or those of its affiliated companies. It is possible that LGT Bank (Switzerland) Ltd. and/or its affiliated companies might receive retrocessions from the issuers of the funds dealt with here.
All selected third-party funds are subjected to a thorough quantitative and qualitative analysis process prior to inclusion in the LGT FundGuide. Selected third-party funds are also subject to a continuous monitoring process. Austria: Investment decisions should only be made on the basis of the current KIID and valid prospectus following consultation with an expert.
LGT funds: The current full prospectus, the Key Investor Information Document (KIID) and the current annual and semi-annual reports can be obtained free of charge from the fund administrator and from the following addresses: Liechtenstein: LGT Bank Ltd., Herrengasse 12, FL-9490 Vaduz and as an electronic version at www.lafv.li; representative for Switzerland: LGT Capital Partners Ltd., Schützenstrasse 6, CH-8808 Pfäffikon; main distributor and paying agent for Switzerland: LGT Bank (Switzerland) Ltd., Lange Gasse 15, CH-4002 Basel; paying agent in Austria: Erste Bank der österreichischen Sparkassen AG, Am Belvedere 1, A-1010 Vienna.
This recommendation was prepared by LGT and not by an independent financial analysis department. Therefore this recommendation does not meet all the statutory requirements for guaranteeing the impartiality of financial research. The Swiss Bankers Association Directives on the Independence of Financial Research do not apply to this recommendation. Investments in structured products entail a wide range of risks. Investment decisions should therefore only be made on the basis of the valid prospectus or complete documentation following consultation with an expert. This does not constitute financial analysis within the meaning of the Liechtenstein Ordinance on the Preparation of Financial Analysis according to the Law against Market Abuse in the Trading of Financial Instruments.
Information about foreign currencies were produced by LGT Bank (Switzerland) Ltd. and not by an independent financial analysis department. Therefore, forecasts, observations and price information are subject to change at any time and there is no guarantee that the information is complete. Investment decisions should accordingly be made in consideration of the investor’s personal risk tolerance and within the overall context of the portfolio. The Swiss Bankers Association Directives on the Independence of Financial Research do not apply to currency analysis. Such analyses do not constitute financial analysis within the meaning of the Liechtenstein Ordinance on the Preparation of Financial Analysis according to the Law against Market Abuse in the Trading of Financial Instruments.
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