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CLO Pulse Q2 2020: Sector Averages Of Reinvesting European CLO Assets


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CLO Pulse Q2 2020: Sector Averages Of Reinvesting European CLO Assets

European collateral loan obligations (CLOs) typically benefit from portfolio diversification, both from an issuer and sector perspective, with CLO managers maintaining portfolios of leveraged loans that have an average exposure to 137 different corporate issuers operating across 38 different industry categories.

In this publication, we examine the aggregate asset quality held by European CLOs, observed through key credit metrics and consolidated by S&P Global Ratings' CLO industry sectors. Specifically, this edition of sector average metrics for European CLO assets focuses on loans issued by 477 corporate issuers, which represents over 95% of the assets under management (AUM) held in reinvesting European CLOs rated by S&P Global Ratings as reported at June 30. 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 S&P Global Ratings-rated CLO assets), weighted by the euro notional exposure to each asset.

COVID-19 Caused Credit Deterioration In Q2 2020: Key Changes To Credit Metrics

Based on our review of second-quarter 2020 data, the average reinvesting European CLO portfolio rated by S&P Global Ratings exhibited the following changes:

  • Credit quality deteriorated across several sectors as downgrades and negative CreditWatch placements due to the economic effects of COVID-19 increased toward the end of the first quarter of 2020 and through the second quarter of the year. SPWARF scores rose above 2,900 for the first time. However, underlying loan prices in CLOs rapidly rebounded over the same period (see chart 1).
  • Entities held by European CLOs are carrying on average 1.5x more leverage compared to the previous quarter. The key driver has been predominantly revised EBITDA projections, with a limited increase in overall drawn debt.
  • Interest coverage ratios for European CLO obligors also reduced by 0.5x, although still remain robust at 2.7x. The average unstressed recovery rating is predominantly '3' (50%-70%), constituting 77% of CLO portfolio assets held.
  • Rating actions during the first half of 2020 led to a 9% increase in 'B-' or below rated debt (by nominal amount) to 35% of total.

Chart 1


Credit Quality Deterioration Continues Over Second Quarter, While Asset Prices Rebound

Credit quality continued its deterioration throughout the second quarter of 2020, most notably with a larger proportion of underlying loans on negative outlook compared with the previous quarter. That said, less than a fifth of our overall negative rating actions on European corporates during the period filtered through to CLOs and their holdings at the end of the second quarter 2020. This is a result of the type of industries most visibly and severely affected during March, such as transportation, oil, travel, and retail, which are less prevalent in European CLOs. That said, third quarter will likely show some signs of credit quality stabilizing, partially driven by active portfolio management.

The first quarter 2020 average debt-to-EBITDA and interest coverage ratios of issuers present in European CLOs unsurprisingly worsened to 7.5x and 2.7x, respectively. This was largely driven by the revised EBITDA and cash flow generation expectations, rather than nominal debt increases. The credit quality mix of notional debt held showed slight worsening in the 'B-' and 'CCC+ or below' rating categories, which increased by 6% and 3%, respectively, to 25% and 9%. This is commensurate with the decrease in 'B' rated debt held, which reached 38% of total.

At the same time, however, we note a rapid rebound in underlying loan prices in CLOs over the same period, which we argue is the result of two key factors. Firstly, improving investor sentiment towards certain corporate sectors over other since the start of the downturn. And secondly, relentless central bank support, which in our view has been key in shoring up confidence and liquidity to the high yield and leveraged loan sector.

Credit quality has been evolving in European CLOs since March, thanks to CLO managers navigating their portfolios to contain 'CCC' buckets, largely to minimize the impact of excess 'CCC' haircuts and preserve par value tests. Chart 2 plots the movement in average 'CCC' holdings in Euro CLOs since March, and the percentage of Euro CLOs that comprise more that 7.5% of 'CCC' holdings over the same period.

Chart 2


Before diving deeper into the results, it is worth highlighting the following caveats:

  • 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 S&P Global Ratings-rated CLO assets), weighted by the euro notional exposure to each asset.
  • Our analysis of reinvesting euro CLO portfolio exposures include 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 all European CLO 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 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

European CLO Assets With Derived S&P Global Ratings' Credit Rating And Recovery Rating(i)
CLO (no.) Obligor count (no.) Asset count (no.) Debt count (no.) Asset amount (mil. €) SPWARF WARR (%) WAS (%) WAP On CreditWatch Negative (%) With negative outlook (%)
Q1 2019 76 432 584 13,692 28,201 2618 61.34 3.67 98.25 0.13 14.97
Q2 2019 78 447 603 14,799 29,037 2605 61.36 3.96 98.48 0.11 17.20
Q3 2019 90 465 624 19,572 35,903 2659 61.89 3.53 98.84 0.26 19.39
Q4 2019 91 462 616 18,262 34,732 2664 61.72 3.79 98.63 1.00 20.21
Q1 2020 116 484 653 23,348 44,672 2798 62.32 3.76 88.96 3.59 22.41
Q2 2020 130 477 634 26,344 49,242 2927 62.61 3.77 93.32 6.72 40.40
(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.

CLO Assets Weighted By Exposure

Weighted average metrics

Our analysis focuses on a pool of loans issued by 477 corporate issuers, representing over 95% of the AUM currently held in reinvesting European CLOs that we rate. For each sector, we calculated the average metrics for all of the assets that we rate, weighted by the euro notional exposure to each asset. These metrics include the SPWARF, WARR, WAS, and WAP (see table 1 and the Appendix).

Average metrics per industry

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 CLO assets, we calculated the average metrics described in the Appendix, weighted by par, across the various Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS) sectors.

Table 2

Floating-Rate European CLO Assets With Derived S&P Global Ratings' Credit And Recovery Ratings
Global Industry Classification Standard Sector Obligor Count (no.) Asset Amount (€) Exposure (%) SPWARF WARR (%) WAS (%) WAP On CreditWatch Negative (%) On Outlook Negative (%) Debt-to-EBITDA ratio EBITDA Interest Coverage
Health Care Providers And Services 37 4,215,167,666 0.09 2,724 68.17 3.40 96.01 - 0.34 8.46 2.64
Software 25 4,020,640,634 0.08 3,203 60.91 3.83 95.67 - 0.35 9.06 2.47
Chemicals 30 3,672,633,669 0.07 2,479 55.60 3.70 94.30 - 0.59 5.96 4.47
Diversified Telecommunication Services 31 2,831,295,201 0.06 2,513 58.58 3.15 96.34 - 0.25 5.56 4.43
Commercial Services And Supplies 26 2,775,510,350 0.06 2,903 64.01 3.93 91.21 0.04 0.53 7.76 2.82
Hotels, Restaurants And Leisure 15 2,357,607,681 0.05 3,327 57.47 4.07 90.05 0.37 0.28 7.05 4.34
Diversified Consumer Services 14 2,100,129,735 0.04 3,127 61.44 3.48 94.59 0.13 0.12 7.70 3.05
Trading Companies And Distributors 15 2,078,334,139 0.04 2,875 63.44 4.15 94.53 - 0.71 7.19 3.14
Food Products 17 2,015,069,546 0.04 2,350 68.28 3.52 95.58 - 0.41 7.14 3.20
Pharmaceuticals 11 1,757,532,349 0.04 3,020 66.14 3.85 96.48 - 0.21 6.85 3.29
Capital Markets 17 1,706,499,552 0.03 2,773 63.14 3.82 93.29 0.05 0.08 8.44 2.54
Media 13 1,548,239,984 0.03 2,886 56.02 3.92 93.22 0.26 0.54 7.87 2.67
Specialty Retail 17 1,519,438,400 0.03 3,755 62.21 4.16 87.84 0.05 0.47 8.19 2.43
Machinery 19 1,472,884,925 0.03 2,874 65.47 3.77 91.03 0.17 0.25 7.21 3.34
Building Products 10 1,272,919,140 0.03 2,468 64.58 3.80 93.86 - 0.96 7.42 3.40
Entertainment 10 938,917,176 0.02 4,097 57.94 3.92 83.40 0.30 0.65 7.20 3.18
Health Care Equipment And Supplies 9 863,369,619 0.02 3,440 67.40 3.82 93.38 - 0.12 10.68 2.35
Containers And Packaging 16 808,952,074 0.02 2,853 69.26 4.08 94.30 - 0.52 7.25 3.29
Technology Hardware, Storage And Peripherals 4 746,094,553 0.02 3,549 62.28 3.93 92.98 - 0.66 8.42 2.65
Internet And Catalog Retail 9 743,805,503 0.02 3,788 65.43 4.05 92.25 0.19 0.30 9.70 3.21
IT Services 7 732,908,252 0.01 3,139 65.42 3.49 85.37 - 0.57 13.74 2.47
Professional Services 5 711,098,536 0.01 3,245 63.28 3.78 90.09 0.23 0.31 9.14 2.43
Real Estate Management And Development 12 609,436,694 0.01 2,975 63.51 4.66 94.72 - 0.37 7.33 3.11
Food And Staples Retailing 9 604,886,514 0.01 3,264 60.89 3.97 96.35 - 0.21 8.17 2.92
Aerospace And Defense 5 572,229,844 0.01 2,561 66.25 3.51 91.43 - 0.64 7.97 4.07
Electronic Equipment, Instruments And Components 6 555,809,160 0.01 2,722 60.66 3.44 96.36 - 0.30 7.21 3.43
Multiline Retail 2 554,268,417 0.01 1,984 71.49 3.57 95.25 - 1.00 5.66 4.48
Construction And Engineering 9 527,814,408 0.01 2,947 67.91 4.00 92.02 - 0.37 6.40 7.11
Life Sciences Tools And Services 4 473,015,308 0.01 1,726 54.95 2.88 97.41 - 0.20 7.11 4.15
Insurance 4 438,412,137 0.01 3,129 66.43 4.59 95.79 - 0.36 10.17 1.95
Food And Staples Retailing 5 387,949,621 0.01 2,876 66.73 3.80 96.35 - 0.45 8.17 2.92
Auto Components 9 379,590,227 0.01 2,776 62.78 3.87 91.44 0.37 0.63 5.85 5.21
Personal Products 4 357,589,451 0.01 3,600 50.83 3.20 92.87 0.45 0.00 10.01 2.41
Household Durables 5 284,562,027 0.01 4,185 70.00 4.37 78.47 - 0.42 6.93 1.08
Interactive Media And Services 5 268,495,312 0.01 3,604 56.78 4.25 93.83 0.23 - 7.87 2.38
Paper And Forest Products 1 263,863,698 0.01 2,576 69.49 4.49 91.29 0.01 - 4.70 5.51
Electric Utilities 4 242,169,268 0.00 1,982 60.00 3.50 98.58 1.00 - 4.18 6.85
Leisure Products 2 224,858,135 0.00 3,610 65.00 4.50 89.01 - 1.00 15.02 1.96
Biotechnology 1 222,376,606 0.00 1,739 53.11 2.72 97.95 - - 4.77 6.32
Distributors 2 178,007,140 0.00 3,286 67.35 5.13 87.97 0.14 0.86 4.90 4.19
Household Products 4 172,204,917 0.00 4,192 66.68 3.20 93.50 - 0.85 8.94 2.68
Textiles, Apparel And Luxury Goods 2 171,840,676 0.00 3,751 65.68 3.85 85.80 - 0.14 9.51 2.80
Consumer Finance 2 149,882,145 0.00 3,297 67.93 4.42 82.04 - 1.00 - 1.72
Metals And Mining 3 144,601,873 0.00 2,866 67.60 4.14 94.92 - 0.01 5.48 2.94
Wireless Telecommunication Services 1 102,952,932 0.00 1,982 65.00 3.50 95.82 - - 4.67 4.62
Semiconductors And Semiconductor Equipment 2 95,386,292 0.00 1,039 51.51 3.74 97.92 - - 1.22 13.81
Automobiles 1 90,093,240 0.00 1,565 50.00 4.00 96.94 - 1.00 3.59 4.19
Transportation Infrastructure 1 78,700,286 0.00 1,577 56.06 3.73 96.29 - 0.28 5.46 3.33
Banks 3 75,509,000 0.00 785 59.00 3.88 92.82 - - - -
Construction Materials 1 43,839,000 0.00 3,610 65.00 5.00 85.58 - 1.00 6.80 2.70
Electrical Equipment 2 33,717,652 0.00 5,292 72.99 4.00 42.72 - 1.00 6.48 0.84
Air Freight And Logistics 1 29,104,000 0.00 3,610 71.50 6.25 79.16 - 1.00 5.24 2.95
Beverages 1 13,116,800 0.00 3,610 65.00 4.50 90.96 - - 7.23 2.28
Oil, Gas And Consumable Fuels 2 6,688,539 0.00 6,544 49.74 6.03 52.94 - - 4.21 5.45
Ratings bias per GICS sector

At the end of the second quarter, 47.3% of S&P Global Ratings-rated CLO assets had a negative rating bias (i.e., ratings from issuers with a negative outlook, or on CreditWatch negative), up from the 21.2% at the start of 2020 and 26.0% at the start of the second quarter 2020. We also examined the breakdown between negative bias, positive bias, and stable for 21 GICS sectors, each weighted by euro notional exposure (see chart 3). 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 fewer obligors.

Chart 3



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

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

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 most loans held in CLOs.

Almost all of the companies that issue loans held in European 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. Our analysis focuses on those assets with an S&P Global Ratings' credit rating and an S&P Global Ratings' recovery rating. These S&P Global Ratings-rated CLO assets were issued by 477 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, and leverage ratio values of these floating S&P Global Ratings-rated CLO assets were used to calculate the averages outlined in tables 1 and 2.

The six 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 Ratings' 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.

On CreditWatch negative

For those assets with a CreditWatch negative rating, the CreditWatch negative percentage is a proportion of the total CLO par amount considered in this analysis. This is also broken down per GICS sector (see table 2) as a total sum of the par of CLO GICS sector assets.

With negative outlook

For those assets with a negative outlook, the outlook percentage is a proportion of the total CLO par amount considered in this analysis. This is also broken down per GICS sector (see table 2) as a total sum of the par of CLO GICS sector assets.

Debt-to-EBITDA ratio

The leverage is based on the assumptions we make around debt and EBITDA, as used in our rating analysis:

  • Debt: For the purpose of debt, we include items such as leases (both capital and operating), preferred shares (if deemed as debt-like), and accrued dividends.
  • EBITDA: Our analysis generally adheres to what EBITDA stands for (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization). That is, revenue minus operating expenses plus depreciation and amortization, including noncurrent asset impairment and asset reversal.

Beyond that definition, our decision to include or exclude an activity from EBITDA depends on whether we consider that activity to be operating (e.g. acquisition-related or restructuring costs) or nonoperating (e.g. asset impairment or non-recurring items).

We generally calculate a company's credit ratios based on a three-year weighted average: the previous one year's results, our current-year forecast (incorporating any reported year-to-date results and our estimates for the remainder of the fiscal year), and our forecast for the next fiscal year. We apply weights to the core and supplemental ratios for the respective years to get to one final ratio for each metric. The length of the time series applied is dependent on the relative credit risk of the company and other qualitative factors, and the weighting of the time series varies according to transformational events.

Interest coverage ratio

For entities with weaker leverage assessments, interest coverage ratios can also shed light into the issuer's ability to service its debt.

We use the EBITDA value, as described above, divided by the carrying cost, or interest burden of the issuer's debt.

Data coverage of the floating S&P Global Ratings-rated CLO assets listed in table 1 and 2

Because we focus only on 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 tables 1 and 2. We have credit ratings, recovery ratings, and spread information for all loans issued by the 477 issuers as of June 30, 2020.

Due to limitations within the various data sources, we did not have complete coverage regarding the price and leverage ratios for all the loans issued from all issuers. We were able to source pricing information for 87% of the loans and corporate leverage ratio information for 91% of the loans.

This report does not constitute a rating action.

Primary Credit Analysts:Sandeep Chana, London (44) 20-7176-3923;
Marta Stojanova, London + 44 20 7176 0476;
Shane Ryan, London + 44 20 7176 3461;

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