The Bond Boom—and Beyond: Low rates drew a flood of corporate debt issues in recent years. But is the run over?

Updated July 22, 2013, 12:00 a.m. ET

The Bond Boom—and Beyond

Low rates drew a flood of corporate debt issues in recent years. But is the run over?

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The record-breaking bond market has been very, very good to corporate borrowers. Companies around the globe have been rushing to issue new debt, encouraged by the lowest interest rates since the 1950s. New bond issues set a record last year, the average yield for high-yield junk bonds in early May fell below 5% for the first time, and Apple Inc.’sAAPL -1.58% recent $17 billion offering was the largest in history. Borrowers have been taking advantage of cheap debt to refinance more expensive short-term obligations, pushing the ratio of long-term to total borrowing to record highs. Many, like Apple, are using bond proceeds to benefit shareholders through increased dividends or stock buybacks.Outside the U.S., Chinese bonds have been booming, and overseas markets are attracting U.S. issuers; MicrosoftCorp. MSFT -11.40% turned to the euro market for $715 million of its recent $3 billion offering, expanding the potential pool of investors.

This spring’s sharp rise in rates may have slammed shut the window for corporate bonds. Some issuers postponed their planned trips to the bond market, causing a drop in new offerings for June.

“It’s been quite a ride,” says Laurie Hodrick, a professor of economics at Columbia University Business School. “The question is what happens next.”

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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