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While 2022 has been an exceptionally challenging year, with both equities and fixed income down meaningfully, there are a few bright spots within the high yield space. The number of rising stars, which are below investment grade securities (high yield) that have been upgraded to an investment grade rating, has already hit 2021 levels with two months remaining in the year. Fallen angel securities — previously investment grade businesses that have fallen to high yield or “junk bond” status — remain relatively low. The increase in rising stars over the last two years comes after a big increase in fallen angels in 2020, and has been driven in part by a recovery in economic activity following the pandemic and better financial discipline of management teams. Many companies used the period of incredibly low interest rates to shore up balance sheets and push out debt maturities. A company’s credit rating changing from high yield to investment grade is significant, especially when facing a slowdown, as it allows the company to better access funding in the capital markets. The number of rising stars is a good trend in credit and quality overall in high yield has improved. Paired with the most attractive yields in years, the forward outlook looks promising in credit.
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