Agency Mortgage-Backed Securities: Weathering the Storm
We expect stable performance amid increased supply and a benign prepayment environment.
Agency MBS performance was negative in the first quarter, driven largely by broad market volatility as rates rose, the yield curve flattened, and spreads widened. The Bloomberg Barclays U.S. MBS index posted a -1.19 percent total return. Yields ended the quarter at 3.30 percent, higher than the previous quarter, while option-adjusted spreads were roughly 4 basis points wider over the quarter. Conventional MBS outperformed GNMA; 30-year MBS underperformed 15-year MBS; and lower coupons underperformed higher coupons. Prepayment speeds declined over the quarter.
Market Volatility and Rising Rates Hurt First-Quarter MBS Performance
Bloomberg Barclays U.S. MBS Index Spreads
Agency MBS yields ended the quarter at 3.30 percent, higher from the previous quarter, while option-adjusted spreads were roughly 4 basis points wider over the quarter.
Source: Bloomberg, Barclays, Guggenheim Investments. Data as of 3.31.2018. The zero-volatility spread measures the spread that an investor will receive over the entire Treasury spot rate curve. LHS = left hand side, RHS = right hand side.
In our view, MBS spreads still have the potential to widen modestly from here, as levels are tight compared to longer-term historical averages, and 2018 net supply is expected to be higher than it has been in recent years. However, carry remains attractive and could absorb most of the expected spread widening. Further, we expect the sector to continue to provide diversification and lower volatility within a broad fixed-income portfolio. We anticipate the current environment of rangebound rates, low volatility, and reasonable valuations relative to credit sectors will result in support for the sector as investors continue to look for opportunities to add high-quality spread assets. Moreover, market volatility and wider spreads in the first quarter validated the sector’s defensive profile. Stable Agency RMBS spreads relative to investment-grade corporate bonds have persisted since early February, resulting in strong performance for Agency MBS compared to the broader aggregate and the corporate subcomponent during the period. Strong sector performance is particularly notable since two of the largest buyers have stepped away recently: the Fed continues to reduce its MBS portfolio, and U.S. banks have not added in the sector.
We continue to favor less negatively convex assets in which either the collateral or structure offers some cash flow stability. Accordingly, we find select subsectors attractively priced in the current environment, including longer-maturity Agency multifamily, better call-protected pools, and some collateralized mortgage obligation structures. We continue to avoid assets such as Ginnie Mae MBS, in which valuations are relatively stretched and may be affected more by the Fed’s policies or change in regulatory regime.
Agency RMBS and CMBS Outperformed the Agg as Credit Sold Off
February-March 2018 Performance
Stable Agency RMBS spreads relative to investment-grade corporate bonds have persisted since early February, resulting in strong performance for Agency MBS compared to the broader aggregate and the corporate subcomponent during the period.
Source: Bloomberg Barclays, Guggenheim Investments. Data as of 3.31.2018.
—Aditya Agrawal, CFA, Director; Louis Pacilio, Vice President
Important Notices and Disclosures
This article is distributed for informational purposes only and should not be considered as investing advice or a recommendation of any particular security, strategy or investment product. It contains opinions of the authors but not necessarily those of Guggenheim Partners or its subsidiaries. The authors’ opinions are subject to change without notice. Information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but are not assured as to accuracy. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.
Investing involves risk. In general, the value of fixed-income securities fall when interest rates rise. High-yield securities present more liquidity and credit risk than investment grade bonds and may be subject to greater volatility. Asset-backed securities, including mortgage-backed securities, may have structures that make their reaction to interest rates and other factors difficult to predict, making their prices volatile and they are subject to liquidity risk. Investments in floating rate senior secured syndicated bank loans and other floating rate securities involve special types of risks, including credit risk, interest rate risk, liquidity risk and prepayment risk. Guggenheim Investments represents the following affiliated investment management businesses of Guggenheim Partners, LLC: Guggenheim Partners Investment Management, LLC, Security Investors, LLC, Guggenheim Funds Investment Advisors, LLC, Guggenheim Funds Distributors, LLC, Guggenheim Real Estate, LLC, GS GAMMA Advisors, LLC, Guggenheim Partners Europe Limited, and Guggenheim Partners India Management. ©2018, Guggenheim Partners, LLC. No part of this article may be reproduced in any form, or referred to in any other publication, without express written permission of Guggenheim Partners, LLC.
Portfolio Manager Adam Bloch and Macroeconomic and Investment Research Group Director Matt Bush share insights from the first quarter 2019 Fixed-Income Outlook.
Anne Walsh, Chief Investment Officer for Fixed Income, shares insights on the fixed-income market and explains the Guggenheim approach to solving the Core Conundrum.
Guggenheim Investments represents the investment management businesses of Guggenheim Partners, LLC ("Guggenheim"). Guggenheim Funds Distributors, LLC is an affiliate of Guggenheim.
Read a prospectus and summary prospectus (if available) carefully before investing. It contains the investment objective, risks charges, expenses and the other information, which should be considered carefully before investing. To obtain a prospectus and summary prospectus (if available) click here or call 800.820.0888.
Investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal.
*Assets under management is as of 3.31.2019 and includes leverage of $11.3bn. Guggenheim Investments represents the following affiliated investment management businesses of Guggenheim Partners, LLC: Guggenheim Partners Investment Management, LLC, Security Investors, LLC, Guggenheim Funds Investment Advisors, LLC, Guggenheim Funds Distributors, LLC, GS GAMMA Advisors, LLC, Guggenheim Partners Europe Limited and Guggenheim Partners India Management. Securities offered through Guggenheim Funds Distributors, LLC, an affiliate of Guggenheim, SI, GFIA and GPIM.
Guggenheim Investments. All rights reserved.
Research our firm with FINRA Broker Check.
• Not FDIC Insured • No Bank Guarantee • May Lose Value
This website is directed to and intended for use by citizens or residents of the United States of America only. The material provided on this website is not intended as a recommendation or as investment advice of any kind, including in connection with rollovers, transfers, and distributions. Such material is not provided in a fiduciary capacity, may not be relied upon for or in connection with the making of investment decisions, and does not constitute a solicitation of an offer to buy or sell securities. All content has been provided for informational or educational purposes only and is not intended to be and should not be construed as legal or tax advice and/or a legal opinion. Always consult a financial, tax and/or legal professional regarding your specific situation. Investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal.