David Hernandez, CFA
This week we look at the historic net asset flows for bank loans courtesy of Morningstar’s Asset Flows report. February 2013 saw the largest ever monthly net asset inflow for bank loan mutual funds and ETFs. This tops the previous best, January 2011, by 14%. Investors undoubtedly have been attracted to spreads well above the historic median.
In late 2011 with historically wide spreads, high yield experienced its largest net asset inflows and carried that momentum into the following year. Investors were paid off with double digit returns in 2012. Based on net asset flow data, investors are now banking on bank loans to produce strong returns in 2013. Net flows have been positive for eight straight months including the February high. Of course, investments can quickly change course as seen in 2011. The previous largest net inflow for bank loans occurred in January 2011 and was followed by the largest net outflow seven months later leading to disappointing returns that year. Thus while valuations appear compelling and fund flows have been positive, just like anything when it comes to investments, positive returns are not guaranteed!
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