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GAM Star Credit Opportunities

GAM Star Credit Opportunities seeks to generate steady, high income from the bonds of quality companies, with a focus on subordinated debt to capture higher yields. Despite a challenging market environment, the credit quality of the fund’s issuers continues to be robust and financials remains one of the strongest sectors within credit markets. The team, which has been managing the strategy since 1985 and has the longest track record within the asset class, is well-positioned to benefit from investing across the capital structure of banks, insurers and corporates.

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Current Market opportunity

Why bonds

Q2 2020 will most likely be remembered as one of the worst quarters for global GDP growth since World War II. In a time of uncertainty, we believe investors are better off owning bonds than equities.

Why the financial sector

This is the most regulated market and has been stress tested by regulators, so we know the sector can absorb external shocks such as Covid-19. Covid-19 is an earnings story for sure, but not a balance sheet story. 

Why sub-debt for financial sector

Investors benefit from the strong credit quality of these issuers, in addition to benefiting from a significantly higher income.

The power of pull-to-par

While income is steady, the price of a bond fluctuates; however, as long as the default risk does not increase, it typically converges toward par value. Therefore, if the price of the bond declines, but the default risk does not change, a unique opportunity to invest is created.

Extension risk as a buying opportunity

When callable perpetuals are priced to perpetuity because of weak market conditions, they tend to gradually reprice to the next call date as soon as the situation stabilises. This means there is the potential for high capital gains.

Legacy bonds

While the price of bonds has declined, regulatory framework has not changed, meaning free option in terms of capital gains has just increased, as issuers will need to take these bonds out.

Historic record of bounce back

We just experienced one of the biggest monthly drawdowns since 1985, with no change in the credit fundamentals. Each time this has happened in the past, the prices of our bonds recovered within six to nine months.

Our Thinking

Investment Opinions 11 min read

High income credit: European bank AT1s – a relative safe haven

24 July 2020

Atlanticomnium’s Romain Miginiac suggests AT1 contingent convertible bonds (CoCos) are well positioned to outperform in the coming years underpinned by resilient credit quality in an uncertain environment and remote default risk in the context of rising defaults.

11 min read
Podcast 17 min listen

GAM Talks Podcast Episode Six - Jeremy Smouha

14 May 2020

GAM Talks Podcast Episode Six - Jeremy Smouha

17 min listen
Investment Opinions 9 min read

Q1 bank results: Covid-19 has not derailed the credit story

05 May 2020

Following the release of Q1 earnings statements, Atlanticomnium’s Romain Miginiac suggests that Covid-19 has not derailed the credit story of European banks.

9 min read
Investment Opinions 4 min read

Banks remain resilient

06 April 2020

Atlanticomnium’s Gregoire Mivelaz shares his thoughts on the importance of the big banks during the Covid-19 economic crisis.

4 min read
Investment Opinions 4 min read

Coronavirus: a credit perspective

10 March 2020

Subordinated debt has not been entirely immune from the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on financial markets. Even so, Atlanticomnium’s investment team believes there is evidence to suggest this event remains manageable from a credit perspective.

4 min read

Reasons to favour the asset class

Steady income

By investing in subordinated bonds, investors can capture a reliable income from investment grade companies.

Built to deliver capital preservation

Investment grade companies rarely default, so by extension their bonds rarely default. Investors can benefit from the strong credit quality of these issuers.   

Low sensitivity to interest rates

Large availability of different bond types by maturity and coupon characteristics.

REGULATIONS MAKE THE FINANCIAL SECTOR SAFER

Increase transparency and periodic stress tests makes the European financial sector one of the strongest available and as bondholders investing in those subordinated debts, solvency risk has largely diminished. 

Reasons to favour GAM Star Credit Opportunities

Long track record

Atlanticomnium has one of the longest track records available, having successfully managed the strategy since 1985.

Experienced investment team

Fund managers have more than 60 years’ combined investment experience, supported by an investment team with in-depth knowledge of debt markets and issuers and strong experience of credit analysis.

Highly diversified portfolio

The fund enables access to some of the best opportunities in bonds from banks and insurance companies, as well as corporates.

Simple Structure

The fund is a long only, daily dealing UCITS funds, offering both accumulation and income share classes.

Portfolio stability

Buy and hold long-term investment approach, based on strong credit convictions, consistency of the investment philosophy and structure of the strategy over time.

Contact us

If you would like us to contact you, or email you with further information, please complete the enquiry form below.

Speak to one of our client directors

If your query is urgent or you wish to talk to a member of the team, please click the button below for their contact details.

 

 

Speak to a member of the team

Philosophy and Process

Investment Philosophy

The team believes that attractive yield can be captured from corporate bond investing without incurring unnecessary default or interest rate risk. Investing lower down the capital structure, where upside payoffs can be enhanced if a company succeeds, means going beyond the traditional credit approach and understanding not only a company’s creditworthiness, but also its fundamentals. The team believes that targeted, fundamental credit analysis focused on the corporate quality and capital structure of investment grade companies can potentially harness strong total returns.

Investment Process

The bottom-up process uses in-depth fundamental credit analysis to identify conviction issuers with strong credit metrics favourable to bond investors. Research is focused on mitigating downside risk in line with the team's capital preservation objective. The team performs a deep-dive analysis of individual bonds to find the most attractive ones within the capital structure, including a detailed understanding of the prospectus, issuers’ capital structure and regulatory framework. Positions are selected and sized to achieve income and capital appreciation potential, as well as to manage and mitigate credit interest rate and liquidity risk via diversification. The last step of the process is risk control and portfolio monitoring where the investment team monitors the credit quality of issuers, allocations and risk parameters of the fund as well as adherence to UCITS regulations, the restrictions laid out in the fund's prospectus and the team's internal limits.

1. Issuer selection

  • Bottom-up research and in-depth fundamental credit analysis
  • Identify issuers with strong credit metrics and favourable corporate governance
  • Research process focused on downside risk

2. Bond selection

  • Assess and understand capital structure
  • In-depth, analysis of prospectuses
  • Assess instruments' attractiveness

3. Portfolio construction

  • Select and size issues for potential contribution of
    • Credit risk
    • Interest rate risk
    • Liquidity risk
  • Diversify across instrument structures, capital structures and sector / sub-sector

4. Risk control and portfolio monitoring

  • Closely monitor changes in credit ratings, liquidity, prices and relative positions
  • Strong focus on liquidity throughout the process

Investment Team

The fund is managed by Atlanticomnium S.A., an independent Geneva-based fund management company, which has specialised in credit investing since it was founded in 1976. The firm has managed assets for GAM since 1985.

Fund managers, Anthony Smouha, Gregoire Mivelaz and Patrick Smouha, have over 60 years combined investment experience. The primary source of added value for the portfolios is the bottom-up credit selection ability of the managers and their familiarity with junior debt.

They are supported by a team of analysts and strong dealing capability, as well as other internal resources. An additional risk oversight function is performed independently by GAM’s risk teams. 

With a focus on high-quality financial issuers, current valuations of our securities provide attractive yields while their credit fundamentals remain rock solid. Financials remains one of the strongest sectors within credit markets, and with balance sheets strong enough to bridge central banks’ lending, can be part of the solution to the current crisis.
Jeremy Smouha, CEO, Atlanticomnium S.A. (UK)

Anthony Smouha

CEO, Atlanticomnium SA

View biography

Gregoire Mivelaz

Fund Manager, ATLANTICOMNIUM S.A.

View biography

Patrick Smouha

Fund Manager, ATLANTICOMNIUM S.A.

View biography

Fund Information

In order to seek higher yields we focus on the junior debt of national champions, which offer a better return than senior debt.
Anthony Smouha Portfolio Manager, GAM Star Credit Opportunities

Key Risks

Credit Risk / Debt Securities

Bonds may be subject to significant fluctuations in value. Bonds are subject to credit risk and interest rate risk.

Credit Risk / Non-Investment Grade

Non-investment grade securities, which will generally pay higher yields than more highly rated securities, will be subject to greater market and credit risk, affecting the performance of the Fund.

Interest Rate Risk

A rise or fall in interest rates causes fluctuations in the value of fixed income securities, which may result in a decline or an increase in the value of such investments.

Liquidity Risk

Some investments can be difficult to sell quickly which may affect the value of the Fund and, in extreme market conditions, its ability to meet redemption requests.

Concentration Risk

Concentration in a limited number of securities and industry sectors may result in more volatility than investing in broadly diversified Funds.

Capital at risk

All financial investments involve an element of risk. Therefore, the value of the investment and the income from it will vary and the initial investment amount cannot be guaranteed.

Contacts

For your local contacts, please Select your Country, or visit our Contacts and Locations page.

GAM Star Credit opportunities is a sub-fund of GAM Star Fund p.l.c., registered office at George’s Court, 54-62 Townsend Street, Dublin 2, Ireland, an umbrella investment company