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CLO Spotlight: Sector Averages Of Reinvesting U.S. BSL CLO Assets: COVID-19 Caused Significant Deterioration In Second-Quarter 2020

(Editor's Note: This article reflects CLO collateral information as of June 30, 2020. Due to a substantial volume of corporate rating actions and changes in loan prices in recent weeks, current metrics have shifted materially. We're publishing this report to maintain consistency with our previously published quarterly updates.)

Broadly syndicated loan collateral loan obligations (BSL CLOs) benefit from portfolio diversification, both from an issuer and sector perspective, with most BSL CLO managers maintaining portfolios of leveraged loans that have an average exposure to 200 different corporate issuers operating across 24 different industry categories. Our analysis for this article focuses on the loans issued by over 1,300 corporate issuers, representing over 95% of the assets under management (AUM) currently held in the U.S. BSL CLOs rated by S&P Global Ratings. We calculated the average metrics for all floating-rate assets with both an S&P Global Ratings' credit rating and an S&P Global Ratings' recovery rating (the floating S&P Global Ratings-rated CLO assets), weighted by the dollar exposure to each asset.

Our analysis of reinvesting U.S. BSL CLO portfolio exposures included average values over time for key credit metrics (see table 1, as well as the Appendix for calculation specifics). Those metrics are:

  • Issuer count: the obligor count across the transactions;
  • SPWARF: the S&P Global Ratings' weighted average rating factor for the CLO collateral, with a higher value indicating a lower average rating across the transactions;
  • WARR: the weighted average recovery rate for the loans in the portfolios, as implied by the corporate recovery rating we have assigned to each loan;
  • WAS: the weighted average spread over LIBOR of the loans in each CLO portfolio; and
  • WAP: the weighted average price of the loans in each CLO portfolio based on market sources.

Table 1

Floating-Rate CLO Assets With Derived S&P Global Ratings' Credit Rating And Recovery Rating(i)
Quarter Issuer count (no.) SPWARF WARR (%) WAS (%) WAP
3Q 2018 1,583 2,553 64.81 3.42 99.16
4Q 2018 1,614 2,572 64.57 3.42 94.68
1Q 2019 1,428 2,562 64.64 3.44 97.00
2Q 2019 1,431 2,584 64.22 3.46 97.15
3Q 2019 1,417 2,640 63.95 3.49 96.73
4Q 2019 1,362 2,680 63.61 3.56 97.35
1Q 2020 1,373 2,826 63.26 3.52 82.02
2Q 2020 1,344 2,948 62.14 3.50 91.28
(i)See the appendix for detailed explanations of these metrics. SPWARF--S&P weighted average rating factor. WARR--Weighted average recovery ratio. WAS--Weighted average spread. WAP--Weighted average price.

Key Changes Due To A World With COVID-19

  • Credit quality of CLO assets deteriorated across a number of corporate sectors due to downgrades and negative CreditWatch placements resulting from the economic and credit impact of COVID-19. The pace of negative rating actions on corporate entities whose loans back S&P Global Ratings-rated CLOs slowed down after peaking in the beginning of the quarter.
  • During first and second quarters, about one third of the issuers whose loans are held in U.S. BSL CLOs had their ratings lowered or placed on CreditWatch.
  • Due to changes in companies' capital structures (issuance of additional debt and resulting increased leverage, full draw of revolver, etc.), a number of corporate recovery ratings (and the resulting recovery assumption used in our CLO analysis) dropped in the second quarter.
  • The WAP of the loans in our CLO portfolios have tracked the trajectory of the broader markets. After dropping to 82 cents to the dollar, they recovered and appear to have stabilized at around 91 cents to the dollar.
  • The proportion of CLO collateral with a negative bias (negative outlook or Creditwatch negative) has increased to 43%, up from 32% at the end of first-quarter 2020.

Another Turn Of Leverage After COVID-19 In The Second Quarter

COVID-19-related containment measures caused significant declines in revenues and earnings for many of the corporate loan issuers within U.S. CLOs, and some of these companies came to capital markets to raise debt-financed liquidity to survive though the crisis. This had an impact on companies' leverage that was assumed for our corporate credit rating reviews. Tables 2 and 3 below shows the average leverage ratios for 640 issuers reviewed during March and second-quarter of 2020 compared to the most recent rating review prior to COVID-19.

For these 640 companies that had a rating review during COVID-19, leverage has increased by about 1.3 turns on average relative to pre-COVID-19 levels. As a result of these reviews, about 55% of our sample of 640 issuers experienced a rating downgrade. For the entities that had their ratings lowered, leverage increased by about two turns on average; meanwhile, leveraged increased by about a half turn on average for the issuers that were not downgraded.

Table 2

Average Leverage Ratios
Average leverage from review before COVID-19 Average leverage from review during COVID-19(i) Average change in leverage
Downgrade 5.82 7.77 1.96
No dowgrade 5.87 6.35 0.48
Total 5.84 7.15 1.31
(i)Between March 1, 2020, and June 30, 2020.
Leverage and rating shifts varied across sectors

For the sample of 640 issuers reviewed during COVID-19, with the average increase in leverage of 1.3 turns, we find the overall average rating movement was 0.84 notches downward. About 55% of these issuers saw ratings lowered, while around 45% did not. To arrive at our overall ratings movement of 0.84 notches downward, we averaged in zero notch movement for issuers that had their ratings affirmed.

When we break down the actions by the Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS) classification of the issuer, we find the count of issuers reviewed, the change in leverage, and the average notch movement differed notably across the various GICS industry categories. For example, issuers classified under GICS as hotels/restaurants/leisure saw the highest number of rating updates within our sample, with 64 issuers reviewed (or 10% of the overall sample). These 64 issuers experienced, on average, an increase in leverage of 1.8 turns (half a turn higher than the overall average increase of 1.3). As result of these reviews, the average rating movement was 1.25 notches downward for these hotels/restaurants/leisure issuers (greater than the overall average rating movement of 0.84 notches down, meaning several hotels/restaurant/leisure issuers saw multi-notch downgrades).

Meanwhile, recent rating reviews of 21 auto component issuers revealed leveraged had increased by over two turns during COVID-19.

Table 3

Average Leverage Ratios By GICS
GICS industry Average leverage from review before COVID-19 Average leverage from review during COVID-19(i) Average change in leverage Issuer count (no.) Downgrade No downgrade Avg. notch
Hotels, restaurants, and leisure 6.25 8.05 1.81 64 46 18 (1.25)
Chemicals 5.33 6.58 1.25 40 20 20 (0.63)
Healthcare providers and services 7.57 8.31 0.74 34 12 22 (0.47)
Commercial services and supplies 5.40 6.12 0.72 31 14 17 (0.55)
Media 5.27 6.70 1.43 29 17 12 (0.76)
Machinery 6.11 7.16 1.06 28 14 14 (0.61)
IT services 6.70 7.24 0.54 27 15 12 (0.63)
Software 8.10 9.32 1.22 25 10 15 (0.36)
Specialty retail 5.55 7.20 1.65 25 22 3 (1.48)
Entertainment 5.54 6.79 1.25 22 16 6 (1.23)
Auto components 5.13 7.23 2.10 21 13 8 (1.10)
Trading companies and distributors 5.39 6.71 1.32 18 7 11 (0.44)
Oil, gas, and consumable fuels 4.00 5.78 1.78 15 11 4 (1.80)
Diversified consumer services 6.74 7.38 0.64 14 8 6 (0.71)
Aerospace and defense 5.65 6.87 1.22 13 9 4 (0.85)
Professional services 6.51 8.63 2.12 13 8 5 (0.69)
Building products 5.03 4.95 (0.08) 12 2 10 0.00
Containers and packaging 6.16 7.46 1.30 12 7 5 (0.92)
Household durables 5.63 6.87 1.23 12 6 6 (0.83)
Textiles, apparel, and luxury goods 5.17 5.35 0.18 12 7 5 (0.92)
Healthcare equipment and supplies 6.22 7.49 1.27 11 6 5 (0.73)
Food products 6.93 7.33 0.40 10 3 7 (0.10)
Construction and engineering 5.99 6.70 0.70 9 5 4 (0.67)
Airlines 2.66 6.49 3.83 8 8 0 (1.88)
Electronic equipment, instruments, and components 5.16 6.22 1.06 8 5 3 (0.88)
Leisure products 4.39 6.30 1.90 8 5 3 (0.88)
Metals and mining 5.14 6.79 1.65 8 7 1 (1.25)
Diversified telecommunication services 5.81 6.25 0.45 7 5 2 (1.57)
Personal products 6.43 9.28 2.85 7 5 2 (0.86)
Technology hardware, storage, and peripherals 5.54 5.68 0.14 7 3 4 (0.43)
Air freight and logistics 5.83 6.67 0.84 6 1 5 (0.17)
Energy equipment and services 3.47 5.32 1.84 6 4 2 (2.17)
(i)Between March 1, 2020, and June 30, 2020. GICS--Global Industry Classification Standard.

CLO Assets Weighted By Exposure

Weighted average metrics

Our analysis focuses on a pool of loans issued by more than 1,300 corporate issuers, representing over 95% of the AUM currently held in reinvesting U.S. BSL CLOs rated by S&P Global Ratings. For each sector, we calculated the average metrics for all the floating S&P Global Ratings-rated CLO assets, weighted by the dollar exposure to each asset. These metrics include the SPWARF, WARR, WAS, and WAP (see table 1 and the Appendix).

Average metrics per industry

We observed that the corporate issuers operating within various industries have different credit profiles, and the loans they issue also have different characteristics. Using CLO exposures for these floating S&P Global Ratings-rated CLO assets, we calculated the average metrics described in the Appendix, weighted by par, across the various GICS sectors.

Table 4

Floating-Rate CLO Assets With Derived S&P Global Ratings' Credit And Recovery Ratings
GICS Issuer count (no.) Exposure (%) SPWARF WARR WAS WAP % on Watch Negative % negative outlook
Software 111 9.02 3,223 59.21 3.81 94.65 0.26 15.59
Healthcare providers and services 82 6.34 3,234 59.50 3.72 90.82 9.94 26.23
Media 54 5.88 2,514 71.41 2.99 90.98 1.43 45.18
Hotels, restaurants, and leisure 80 5.75 3,272 68.73 3.24 87.77 19.30 60.12
Diversified telecommunication services 32 4.83 2,515 65.97 3.04 94.01 0.00 30.82
IT services 54 4.30 3,434 60.52 3.79 88.17 0.23 52.42
Insurance 23 3.61 2,655 53.65 3.47 95.44 1.18 12.42
Chemicals 54 3.52 2,682 63.50 3.47 93.46 5.93 44.44
Commercial services and supplies 57 3.45 2,932 62.20 3.61 92.77 7.41 47.13
Machinery 44 2.82 3,224 56.84 3.56 92.66 10.95 40.03
Specialty retail 37 2.78 3,500 61.53 3.86 84.21 4.77 68.31
Entertainment 29 2.75 3,952 61.58 3.07 85.26 15.36 36.74
Containers and packaging 27 2.55 2,568 58.49 3.12 93.91 0.00 28.58
Trading companies and distributors 38 2.50 2,694 60.21 3.42 93.83 2.20 38.88
Capital markets 39 2.42 2,382 55.05 3.39 94.36 0.00 20.19
Oil, gas, and consumable fuels 35 1.92 3,178 64.76 3.94 80.07 0.77 42.67
Aerospace and defense 23 1.82 2,743 51.99 3.39 88.74 1.59 75.83
Food products 30 1.80 2,543 63.02 2.99 95.37 2.41 17.66
Pharmaceuticals 14 1.71 2,782 71.58 3.42 92.76 11.47 56.04
Health care technology 17 1.71 2,801 63.65 3.85 95.39 0.28 15.88
Building products 20 1.63 2,283 54.65 3.47 95.30 16.29 59.20
Diversified consumer services 24 1.61 3,287 61.29 3.53 91.87 0.56 61.47
Electronic equipment, instruments, and components 18 1.52 2,388 61.36 3.12 93.05 0.03 45.00
Professional services 31 1.52 3,141 59.71 3.85 91.34 8.66 37.52
Auto aomponents 26 1.32 3,671 55.62 3.80 86.62 44.57 51.88
Project finance: power 25 1.17 1,968 70.84 4.32 92.59 0.00 14.77
Airlines 7 1.09 3,202 80.50 2.69 82.06 45.33 53.18
Life sciences tools and services 14 1.09 2,625 58.12 3.52 96.97 0.00 18.38
Real estate management and development 11 1.06 2,342 69.29 2.86 92.08 4.38 32.24
Healthcare equipment and supplies 19 1.01 3,714 57.30 4.24 90.19 16.89 20.20
Construction and engineering 20 1.00 3,105 48.22 3.96 91.63 0.00 33.46
Metals and mining 17 0.95 2,853 58.23 3.45 91.75 0.37 24.97
Communications equipment 12 0.90 2,968 59.61 3.88 90.58 0.00 70.72
Personal products 14 0.87 3,654 59.72 3.81 84.54 13.30 24.32
Electrical equipment 10 0.83 2,714 54.72 3.40 92.77 0.00 16.18
Road and rail 12 0.83 2,936 63.29 3.72 92.34 13.55 27.77
Independent power and renewable electricity producers 8 0.80 2,105 87.19 2.88 96.51 0.00 8.98
Technology hardware, storage, and peripherals 10 0.71 2,457 63.90 3.56 93.23 0.00 44.30
Interactive media and services 11 0.69 3,116 58.95 3.80 94.74 21.03 3.73
Household durables 16 0.69 3,745 57.55 3.88 83.19 21.34 64.38
Electric utilities 7 0.67 1,681 76.24 3.30 94.76 0.00 0.00
Food and staples retailing 11 0.64 2,298 62.20 3.82 94.46 21.41 41.36
Semiconductors and semiconductor equipment 12 0.58 2,461 60.54 2.53 86.07 17.81 16.82
Wireless telecommunication services 4 0.55 1,474 81.91 3.24 96.99 0.00 31.45
Construction materials 5 0.45 2,129 52.56 2.76 90.24 0.79 22.49
Air freight and logistics 10 0.45 2,369 66.73 3.58 92.48 0.00 22.15
Distributors 7 0.41 3,685 54.66 4.43 88.30 15.53 40.94
Leisure products 11 0.41 2,963 55.40 3.76 91.52 26.20 54.31
Internet and direct marketing retail 6 0.36 3,814 51.33 3.82 86.30 0.00 76.57
Textiles, apparel, and luxury goods 16 0.36 3,357 59.61 4.98 80.28 10.84 53.72
Biotechnology 4 0.35 1,895 67.02 2.85 96.73 0.00 9.03
Energy equipment and services 9 0.32 6,270 65.28 4.20 68.05 0.00 33.36
Gas utilities 1 0.28 2,860 70.00 3.50 95.50 0.00 0.00
Household products 7 0.19 4,269 58.93 3.54 87.60 0.00 98.54
Automobiles 2 0.19 1,565 50.09 3.21 96.81 0.00 100.00
Thrifts and mortgage finance 5 0.15 3,487 67.99 4.02 91.98 18.24 19.86
Equity real estate investment trusts (REITs) 4 0.15 1,699 81.74 1.97 93.78 0.00 100.00
Project finance: oil and gas 3 0.13 1,600 87.46 4.06 93.00 0.00 32.23
Transportation infrastructure 1 0.13 1,982 80.00 3.75 93.75 0.00 0.00
Water utilities 1 0.11 3,610 60.00 5.75 81.38 0.00 100.00
Beverages 3 0.10 4,289 57.71 3.96 87.98 0.00 69.03
Multiline retail 3 0.09 6,848 61.39 5.89 38.36 0.00 60.12
Paper and forest products 3 0.07 2,486 76.83 4.48 95.42 0.00 43.67
Consumer finance 1 0.05 3,610 45.00 5.25 85.67 0.00 100.00
Marine 2 0.03 4,641 75.00 5.17 65.02 0.00 100.00
Tobacco 1 0.00 1,982 95.00 3.25 91.00 0.00 100.00
GICS--Global Industry Classification Standard.
Ratings bias per GICS sector

At the end of the second quarter, 43.5% of the floating S&P Global Ratings-rated CLO assets had a negative rating bias, up sharply from the 31.9% last quarter. We also examined the breakdown between negative bias, positive bias, and stable for the top 30 GICS sectors, each weighted by dollar exposure (see chart 1). The bias breakdown per GICS sector can be sensitive to the rating bias of the issuers with higher CLO exposure, particularly the GICS sectors with less obligors. The negative bias has increased significantly at the time of this publication (see "U.S. CLO Exposure To Negative Corporate Rating Actions (As Of July 12, 2020)," published July 14, 2020).

Chart 1

image

Appendix

The scope: floating S&P Global Ratings-rated CLO assets, representing 95% of AUM in reinvesting U.S. BSL CLOs.

The information is based on the aggregation of CLO exposures to corporate issuers as reported in second-quarter 2020 trustee reports of reinvesting U.S. CLOs of BSLs.

S&P Global Ratings' corporate group issues and maintains credit ratings for the vast majority of companies that issue the loans held in CLOs. As part of our credit rating process, we capture various ratios of the issuer at the time of the rating. We also issue and maintain recovery ratings for the vast majority of loans held in CLOs.

Almost all of the companies that issue loans held in U.S. CLOs are classified within the GICS. These industry classifications are utilized within the CDO Evaluator credit model, which S&P Global Ratings' structured finance group uses in its rating process for CLOs.

We aggregate CLO exposures reported in trustee reports available as of the end of second-quarter 2020 and calculate various metrics, weighted by the outstanding par amount of exposures and stratified by the GICS classification of the issuer of the loans. We focused on the floating-rate assets with both an S&P Global Ratings credit and recovery rating. These floating S&P Global Ratings-rated CLO assets were issued by just less than 1,400 corporate issuers operating across various GICS industries and represent over 95% of the total par of the CLOs aggregated in this second-quarter 2020 update. The credit rating, recovery rating, spread, price, creditwatch, and outlook values of these floating S&P Global Ratings-rated CLO assets were used to calculate the averages outlined in table 3.

The four metrics we use in our analysis are listed below.

S&P Global Ratings' weighted average rating factor (SPWARF)

The SPWARF of a CLO portfolio provides an indication of the overall credit rating distribution of the portfolio, weighted by each asset's par balance. The rating factor for each of the portfolio assets is determined by S&P Global Rating's credit rating (or implied rating) and the rating factor. (An individual asset's S&P Global Ratings rating factor is the five-year default rate, given the asset's S&P Global Ratings credit rating and the default table in the corporate CDO criteria, multiplied by 10,000.) The SPWARF is calculated by multiplying the par balance of each collateral obligation by the S&P Global Ratings rating factor (including exposures to issuers with a non-performing rating: 'CC', 'SD' and 'D', each with a rating factor of 10,000), then summing the total for the portfolio and dividing this result by the aggregate principal balance of the collateral obligations included in the calculation.

Weighted average recovery rate (WARR)

For a subset of assets with an S&P Global Ratings recovery rating, the WARR is the sum product of each asset's recovery rate (the number within parenthesis to the right of the recovery rating) and the asset's par exposure as a percentage of the sum of the par of the subset of assets. For more details on S&P Global Ratings' recovery ratings, see "Recovery Rating Criteria For Speculative-Grade Corporate Issuers," published Dec. 7, 2016.

Weighted average spread (WAS)

For a subset of floating-rate assets, the WAS is the sum product of each asset's nominal spread above the base rate and the asset's par exposure as a percentage of the sum of the par of the subset of assets.

Weighted average price (WAP)

For a subset of assets with loan prices, the WAP is the sum product of each asset's price at the end of the quarter and the asset's par exposure as a percentage of the sum of the par of the subset of assets.

Data coverage of the floating S&P Global Ratings-rated CLO assets listed in table 3

Because we focus only on floating S&P Global Ratings-rated CLO assets (which represent over 95% of the overall AUM in the sample), by definition, we have full coverage of the data used to calculate the SPWARF, WARR, and WAS in table 3. We have credit ratings, recovery ratings, and spread information for all loans issued by the 1,300-plus issuers. We had pricing information for over 99% of the loans.

This report does not constitute a rating action.

Primary Credit Analysts:Daniel Hu, FRM, New York (1) 212-438-2206;
daniel.hu@spglobal.com
Ramki Muthukrishnan, New York (1) 212-438-1384;
ramki.muthukrishnan@spglobal.com
U.S. Leveraged Loan Sector Lead:Robert E Schulz, CFA, New York (1) 212-438-7808;
robert.schulz@spglobal.com
U.S. CLO Sector Lead:Stephen A Anderberg, New York (1) 212-438-8991;
stephen.anderberg@spglobal.com
U.S. CLO Analytical Manager:Jimmy N Kobylinski, New York (1) 212-438-6314;
jimmy.kobylinski@spglobal.com

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