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Young Analyst Programme
Women of CIB
Much of the upside for bonds has compressed as cash looks competitive
Walter De Wet, Reezwana Sumad
Posted 21/08/2023 2 mins
Where nominal bonds appeared attractive across the curve for the past two months, much of the upside has compressed for now, in our view. At this point, we believe cash appears attractive relative to the front and back ends of the nominal curve. Our analysis suggests only the 7-year to 15-year bucket appears attractive and provides better expected return than cash. The same goes for inflation-linked bonds (ILBs), although we believe the curve may bear steepen somewhat and shorter maturities may provide better value in an environment where an adverse inflation impulse remains likely.
Our model fair value (FV) for key nominal bond maturities moves marginally higher
After a strong rally in bonds in the past two months and another month of fiscal data for South Africa (SA) that became available last week, we revisit our bond estimates and bond strategy for nominal bonds and ILBs. Given our baseline assumptions, our model result provides us with a 10-year FV of 10,9%, marginally up from our previous FV of 10,7%.
We remain cognisant that fiscal dominance is high
We believe fiscal dominance of ultra-long bonds is high and growing. Our estimates suggest that almost 70% of the 30-year bond yield is driven by local fiscal policy, making ultra-long bonds largely “mute” to less hawkish monetary policy.
Issuance increases on average, sees curve steepening despite this topic being well covered
There is a real and growing risk that weekly auction sizes for nominal bonds would need to increase. Despite the government’s financing requirement being a well-researched topic, it appears that the curve still steepens after an announcement that nominal bond issuance will increase. In short, any issuance increases may not be well priced.
Nominal bonds seem more of a “hold” rather than a “buy” right now
We believe the space for yields to rally has largely compressed for front-end and ultra-long bonds where expected returns are like those of cash. If cash is not preferred, our expected return estimates suggest the R2030 to R2037 area still provides most value. Our 12-month expected return for the ALBI index now stands at 11,1% (vs cash at 9,5%).
ILBs could see some pressure; our 10-year FV moves up, too
We believe upward pressure on real yields is building as fiscal risks materialise. Our 10-year FV is now at 4,9%, up from 4,7% previously. Our expected return for the CILI index is 9,1% (vs cash at 9,5%). For ILBs, our general view is that less duration is better.