Fixed income specialist FIIG Securities has recently announced that it has partnered with German Index firm Solactive to launch Australia’s first domestic high-yield bond index.
FIIG has launched the index in Australia in response to demand for a benchmark for Australian dollar-denominated high-yield bonds to improve investors’ ability to assess performance and make investment decisions about the Australian corporate bond market.
The Solactive FIIG Australian High Yield and Non-Rated Bond TR Index will exclusively cover high-yield and non-rated bonds in Australia.
The index has data as far back as 2012 and is engineered to mirror the performance of the Australian dollar-denominated Australian high-yield corporate bonds universe including both rated and unrated constituents.
The index contains 51 bonds issued by 41 issuers. AGL Energy, Crown Resorts, NextDC, Downer and Virgin are the top five issuers by outstanding volume and make up 48 per cent of the index.
Jonathan Sheridan, chief investment strategist at FIIG Securities, noted that historically it has been difficult for investors to assess the Australian high-yield bond market and as a consequence corporate bonds fly under the radar for most investors.
“We expect this new index will contribute to our strategy to demystify the bond market in Australia and make this far more appealing for investors,” he said.
Vanguard research revealed Australian bonds have returned 8.4 per cent p.a. over a 30+ year period from 1 September 1987 to 31 August 2019, compared to 7.9 per cent for Australian equities and 6.7 per cent for international equities and have historically been significantly less volatile than equities.
According to a recent study published by Deloitte, Australia’s hunger for corporate bonds rose by more than 40 per cent between 2010 and 2018. In spite of this growth just 16 per cent of high-net-worth individuals in Australia directly own corporate bonds. Conversely, the research shows that older Australians allocate more than a third (34 percent) of their investment portfolio to shares, a trend FIIG believes is attributable to a lack of awareness among Australians of other investment options available. Institutional participation in the high-yield corporate bond market is gaining significant momentum.
The Australian corporate bond market currently has over $1 trillion of Australian corporate bonds outstanding – more than two-thirds the size of the Australian stock market. According to FIIG, the market is creating opportunities for fund managers who are turning their attention to corporate bond investments as the banks become increasingly more disintermediated in Australia. The high-yield corporate bond market is emerging as a significant asset class within the corporate bond market.
Timo Pfeiffer, head of research at Solactive, said the Australian corporate bond market is around 70 per cent the size of the ASX, yet despite the sheer size and growth opportunities, high-yield bonds rarely are on investors’ radars.
“We are proud to have worked in this first project with Australia’s leading fixed income experts, whose forward-thinking and client-focused spirit has been a perfect match for Solactive and has brought us together in the development of an index that will bring high-yield bonds on to an investor’s radar,” he said.