Looking ahead, as investors face a number of potential headwinds including slower global growth, continued commodity price volatility and central bank policy uncertainty, Mawn believes the U.S. could prove to be a relative outperformer. According to Mawn, a slow growth economic scenario in the U.S. may still prove constructive for corporate credit, while more challenging for equity valuations.
“We expect the current low GDP growth environment will increase the appeal of predictable yields provided by the bank loan market,” Mawn added. “Credit can outperform with slow and steady GDP growth.”
Mawn pointed to loan performance over the last two decades as evidence of this, as loans only experienced two negative years in that timespan.
ETF investors interested in gaining exposure to the senior bank loan market have a number options to choose from. For example, the PowerShares Senior Loan Portfolio (NYSEArca: BKLN), the largest senior loan-related ETF on the market, has an average 44.2 day to reset period – the average number of days until the floating component of the loans reset. The passively managed ETF is based on the S&P/LSTA U.S. Leveraged Loan 100 Index, which is designed to track the market-weighted performance of the largest institutional leveraged loans. The fund also comes with a 0.65% expense ratio and an attractive 5.86% 30-day SEC yield.
Along with BKLN, investors may look to the passive index-based Highland/iBoxx Senior Loan ETF (NYSEArca: SNLN). SNLN tracks the Markit iBoxx USD Liquid Leveraged Loan Index, which consists of the largest, most liquid leveraged loans. SNLN has 30.8 days to reset and a 4.83% 30-day SEC yield. It offers a 0.55% expense ratio.
There are also two actively managed options, including the SPDR Blackstone/GSO Senior Loan ETF (NYSEArca: SRLN), which has a 48 days reset period and a 3.89% 30-day SEC yield, and First Trust Senior Loan ETF (NasdaqGM: FTSL), which has a 52.29 days reset period and a 3.87% 30-day SEC yield.
For more information on senior secured floating-rate bank loans, visit our bank loans category.