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CLO Pulse Q3 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 132 different corporate issuers operating across 37 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 463 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 September 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.

CLO Credit Quality Stabilized In Q3 2020: Key Changes To Credit Metrics

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

  • Credit quality showed signs of stabilizing following several months of downgrades and negative CreditWatch placements across several sectors due to the economic effects of COVID-19. SPWARF scores on average exhibited neutral-to-decreasing movements compared with the previous quarter. At the same time, underlying CLO loan prices continue to rise, albeit at a slower rate (see chart 1).
  • Obligors held by European CLOs are carrying on average 0.7x less leverage compared to the previous quarter. The key driver has been portfolio diversification.
  • Interest coverage ratios for European CLO obligors also improved by 0.3x, approaching 3.0x. The average unstressed recovery rating is predominantly '3' (50%-70%), constituting 77% of CLO portfolio assets held.
  • Improvement in average key credit ratios was driven by CLOs' increasing exposure to 'BB' rated credits, which were not present in the previous quarter.

Chart 1


Credit Quality Stabilized Over Third Quarter, As Asset Prices Continue Upward Trend

Credit quality stabilized throughout the third quarter of 2020, as SPWARF scores steadied. As highlighted in our previous report, active portfolio management has helped maintain credit quality. At the same time, the inclusion of recent new issue CLOs into our data set--which, in our view, comprise relatively good credit quality portfolios--has improved the overall ratings distribution of the European CLO universe.

The third-quarter 2020 median debt-to-EBITDA and interest coverage ratios of issuers present in European CLOs improved to 6.7x and 2.9x, respectively. Over this period, European CLOs were exposed to 90 obligors that were not there in the previous quarter. Nearly all of these are existing 'BB' category rated issuers, such as International Game Technology PLC, Sappi Ltd., Bausch Health Companies Inc., and Teva Pharmaceutical Finance B.V., which carry significantly lower leverage and interest cover ratio averages of 5.6x and 5.0x, respectively.

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 European CLOs since March, and the percentage of European CLOs that comprise more than 7.5% of 'CCC' holdings over the same period. We also note that recent new issue European CLO pools hold relatively lower levels of 'CCC' rated assets, or in some cases zero 'CCC' exposure. This has contributed to the lower average exposure. Chart 3 highlights the trends in the average proportion of underlying assets in CLOs on CreditWatch negative and the trend evolution since March.

Chart 2


Chart 3


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 at the end of each quarter exposure 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 89 437 574 16,037 32,214 2649 57.88 3.68 98.18 0.15 15.44
Q2 2019 89 451 602 17,211 32,723 2628 57.97 3.71 98.39 0.13 17.96
Q3 2019 86 448 584 16,735 31,441 2641 57.76 3.71 98.56 0.15 19.60
Q4 2019 93 449 593 78,798 34,568 2677 57.56 3.77 98.30 1.02 20.68
Q1 2020 118 462 617 23,100 44,158 2797 56.86 3.76 87.93 3.32 22.75
Q2 2020 133 460 609 26,383 49,168 2931 56.64 3.77 93.30 6.80 40.77
Q3 2020 144 463 611 29,315 52,070 2927 56.46 3.80 95.29 5.01 38.88
(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 463 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 36 4,480,754,811 8.61 2,737 51.00 3.41 97.71 - 32.88 8.67 2.64
Software 26 4,178,032,968 8.02 3,187 57.76 3.85 97.61 - 35.47 9.05 2.50
Chemicals 33 4,157,040,544 7.98 2,591 64.09 3.78 95.99 20.72 40.74 5.95 4.48
Diversified Telecommunication Services 15 2,884,770,724 5.54 2,422 61.39 3.10 97.58 5.67 20.83 5.30 4.68
Commercial Services And Supplies 32 2,884,633,530 5.54 2,904 54.23 3.95 94.02 3.99 39.90 7.72 2.81
Hotels, Restaurants And Leisure 24 2,384,239,207 4.58 3,376 62.52 4.15 89.72 11.35 46.61 6.98 4.29
Food Products 19 2,231,315,135 4.29 2,309 50.16 3.55 97.21 - 37.48 7.18 3.19
Diversified Consumer Services 15 2,167,851,290 4.16 3,124 57.68 3.58 96.39 12.79 15.14 7.97 2.96
Capital Markets 16 2,091,849,169 4.02 2,548 54.86 3.87 95.71 1.26 6.83 8.19 2.64
Trading Companies And Distributors 11 2,072,891,383 3.98 2,824 55.95 4.13 97.00 - 80.18 7.08 3.31
Pharmaceuticals 13 1,947,271,491 3.74 3,026 53.70 3.86 97.84 - 20.32 6.85 3.26
Machinery 17 1,741,644,408 3.34 3,104 56.06 3.86 93.97 12.43 17.65 7.21 3.35
Media 13 1,588,326,860 3.05 2,834 65.25 3.91 96.01 10.30 54.84 7.64 2.85
Specialty Retail 16 1,537,785,715 2.95 3,700 57.58 4.12 91.83 5.56 50.31 8.30 2.41
Building Products 10 1,358,183,463 2.61 2,470 54.49 3.83 95.98 - 95.59 7.38 3.40
Entertainment 10 960,522,879 1.84 3,897 58.56 3.79 84.37 13.70 76.82 7.06 3.34
Health Care Equipment And Supplies 8 929,610,275 1.79 3,386 51.41 3.78 95.32 - 17.09 10.13 2.34
Food And Staples Retailing 4 795,650,838 1.53 3,340 57.99 4.14 96.73 - 18.21 8.54 2.83
Containers And Packaging 15 762,007,188 1.46 3,079 47.09 4.27 95.99 - 62.52 7.57 3.19
Technology Hardware, Storage And Peripherals 4 760,510,751 1.46 3,557 56.39 3.90 95.78 - 52.47 8.48 2.65
Professional Services 12 708,730,722 1.36 3,258 55.52 3.82 93.24 19.75 32.85 9.01 2.42
Internet And Catalog Retail 6 699,270,799 1.34 3,776 51.45 4.14 93.74 3.68 35.23 16.87 1.74
IT Services 8 682,306,183 1.31 3,352 50.49 3.61 84.07 - 61.92 14.82 1.90
Real Estate Management And Development 5 625,875,728 1.20 2,973 54.36 4.64 97.08 - 15.08 7.32 3.10
Multiline Retail 2 607,426,172 1.17 1,984 45.01 3.59 96.93 - 100.00 5.66 4.48
Aerospace And Defense 9 584,690,255 1.12 2,560 54.28 3.51 92.67 - 71.14 7.99 4.04
Electronic Equipment, Instruments And Components 6 579,828,249 1.11 2,726 59.45 3.43 97.42 - 31.08 7.26 3.41
Construction And Engineering 9 550,744,841 1.06 2,941 49.38 3.99 94.30 - 38.18 6.38 7.22
Life Sciences Tools And Services 5 522,576,612 1.00 1,761 64.29 2.94 98.23 - 22.85 7.85 3.82
Personal Products 5 497,330,700 0.96 3,603 65.34 3.59 96.00 - 0.33 9.20 2.63
Insurance 4 426,465,838 0.82 3,139 54.48 4.66 98.27 - 37.26 10.18 1.95
Marine 4 405,888,843 0.78 2,801 53.08 3.78 86.32 - 100.00 6.80 3.81
Auto Components 9 359,994,145 0.69 3,960 55.30 3.93 95.33 0.69 82.88 6.02 4.96
Paper And Forest Products 3 320,035,460 0.61 2,476 46.29 4.54 93.86 - - 4.64 5.53
Interactive Media And Services 4 290,893,807 0.56 3,379 63.08 4.22 95.58 - 21.79 7.86 2.39
Household Durables 5 260,898,860 0.50 3,721 50.00 4.37 84.99 - 42.43 20.23 1.12
Leisure Products 1 241,328,767 0.46 3,610 50.00 4.50 89.33 - - 15.02 1.96
Biotechnology 2 234,491,448 0.45 1,676 67.28 2.66 99.04 - - 4.77 6.32
Healthcare Technology 1 190,044,292 0.36 2,860 55.00 4.50 98.67 - - - -
Textiles, Apparel And Luxury Goods 2 169,964,503 0.33 3,753 54.31 3.85 88.08 - 13.83 9.52 2.80
Household Products 2 153,920,833 0.30 4,183 52.02 3.19 95.73 - 85.09 8.92 2.70
Metals And Mining 2 147,932,857 0.28 2,866 50.32 4.16 97.34 - 0.85 5.48 2.94
Consumer Finance 2 133,477,046 0.26 3,517 50.57 4.21 84.42 - 100.00 27.42 1.72
Distributors 4 133,434,688 0.26 3,006 51.84 5.29 93.61 1.82 98.18 4.84 4.30
Electric Utilities 1 128,246,775 0.25 1,982 60.00 3.50 99.54 100.00 - 4.18 6.85
Wireless Telecommunication Services 1 109,630,023 0.21 1,982 55.00 3.50 97.10 - - 4.67 4.62
Semiconductors And Semiconductor Equipment 2 100,782,181 0.19 1,352 71.08 3.77 99.68 - - 1.31 13.49
Automobiles 1 83,935,477 0.16 1,565 70.00 4.00 98.93 - 100.00 3.59 4.19
Transportation Infrastructure 3 81,901,996 0.16 1,576 62.25 3.79 96.91 - 27.40 5.46 3.33
Construction Materials 1 49,339,000 0.09 3,610 55.00 5.00 92.03 - 100.00 6.80 2.70
Electrical Equipment 2 33,716,675 0.06 5,292 40.01 4.00 52.97 - 100.00 40.85 0.84
Air Freight And Logistics 1 23,771,000 0.05 3,610 45.00 6.25 80.51 - 100.00 5.24 2.95
Beverages 1 13,116,800 0.03 3,610 55.00 4.50 90.55 - - 7.23 2.28
Oil, Gas And Consumable Fuels 1 3,424,099 0.01 3,610 95.00 5.00 94.67 - - 2.33 8.34
Ratings bias per GICS sector

At the end of the third quarter, 43.9% 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 21.7% at the start of 2020 and down from 47.6% at the start of the third quarter 2020. We also examined the breakdown between negative bias, positive bias, and stable for 19 GICS sectors, each weighted by euro notional exposure (see chart 4). 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 4



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 third-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 third-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 463 corporate issuers operating across various GICS industries and represent over 95% of the total par of the CLOs aggregated in this third-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, where we have no loan price we assumed par at 100.

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.

For a subset of floating-rate assets, the debt-to-EBITDA ratio is the sum product of each asset's obligor nominal debt-to-EBITDA ratio and the asset's par exposure as a percentage of the sum of the par of the subset of assets.

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.

For a subset of floating-rate assets, the EBITDA interest coverage ratio is the sum product of each asset's obligor nominal EBITDA interest coverage 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 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 463 issuers as of Sept. 30, 2020, and each end of quarter in table 1.

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 98% of the loans and corporate leverage ratio information for 81% 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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