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Summary

  • On June 27, there were 16,322 trades in 3,164 issues representing $3.8 billion in notional principal in the U.S. market for fixed-rate non-call senior debt.
  • We rank the 20 best trades by our usual criterion, the credit spread to default probability ratio.
  • The top 3 bond issues were bonds from Motorola Solutions, Newcrest Finance Pty. Ltd., and Amgen.

We last ranked the best value fixed-rate corporate bond issues on June 23, 2014 for maturities of 20 years or more. Today, we rank the best value corporate bond trades with daily trading volume of at least $5 million and maturities of 20 years or longer on June 27, 2014. On June 27, in the U.S. bond market, there were 16,322 bond trades in 3,164 non-call fixed-rate corporate bond issues representing $3,826,669,816 in notional principal. Which 20 trades were the best trades of the day, and how do we decide the answer to that question? Today, we answer those questions for bonds with maturities of 20 years or longer.

Conclusion: We find the best-value non-call senior fixed-rate 20-year maturity or longer bond trades on June 27, 2014 were issues by these firms:

MOTOROLA SOLUTIONS INC. (NYSE:MSI)

NEWCREST FINANCE PTY LTD. (OTCPK:NCMGF)

AMGEN INC. (NASDAQ:AMGN)

SHELL INTERNATIONAL FINANCE (NYSE:RDS.A) (NYSE:RDS.B)

CONOCOPHILLIPS (NYSE:COP)

VALERO ENERGY CORPORATION (NYSE:VLO)

EXPRESS SCRIPTS HOLDING CO. (NASDAQ:ESRX)

METLIFE INC. (NYSE:MET)

BARRICK GOLD CORPORATION (NYSE:ABX)

TIME WARNER CABLE INC. (NYSE:TWC)

CONSOLIDATED EDISON CO. OF NEW YORK INC. (NYSE:ED)

GLAXOSMITHKLINE CAPITAL INC. (NYSE:GSK)

MOLSON COORS BREWING CO. (NYSE:TAP)

PHILIP MORRIS INTERNATIONAL INC. (NYSE:PM)

UNITED TECHNOLOGIES CORPORATION (NYSE:UTX)

ARIZONA PUBLIC SERVICE CO. (NYSE:PNW)

MORGAN STANLEY (NYSE:MS)

ALTRIA GROUP INC. (NYSE:MO)

DISCOVERY COMMUNICATIONS LLC (NASDAQ:DISCK)

Best Value 20-year or Longer Bond Trades for June 27, 2014

In analyzing the best trades of the day, we used these criteria:

Bond type: Fixed rate

Callability: Non-call

Seniority: Senior debt

Trade Volume: $5 million or more

Maturity: 20 years or longer

Ratings: Ignored

We ignored legacy ratings in making today's selection, but all but 3 of the trades meeting our criteria had an investment grade rating by the pre-Dodd Frank Act definition. We used the same criterion for "best" that we have used in recent analyses of bonds issued by Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE:CAT), Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT), Morgan Stanley, Johnson and Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), and Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC). That criterion is the reward to risk ratio, calculated as the ratio of credit spread to matched-maturity default probability. The default probabilities used are described in detail in the daily default probability analysis posted by Kamakura Corporation. Both the credit spreads and default probabilities are reported as percent figures. The text of the Dodd-Frank legislation as it concerns the definition of "investment grade" is summarized at the end of our analysis of Citigroup (NYSE:C) bonds published December 9, 2013.

In all, there were 33 issues that met our criteria. The distribution of credit spreads is given in this histogram:

(click to enlarge)

The median credit spread was 1.534% and the average credit spread was 1.954%. The distribution of the credit spread to default probability ratio is given in this histogram:

(click to enlarge)

The median credit spread to default probability ratio was 9.505 and the average was 10.713.

Here are the ranking results, listed with the best ratio numbered 1, with a Motorola Solutions Inc. bond issue the winner at a reward to risk ratio of 22.9 times:

(click to enlarge)

CUSIPs

Many investors have requested that we provide CUSIPs as part of this chart. Redistribution of CUSIPs is currently prohibited by Kamakura Corporation's contract with the data vendor. We are working hard to change this so that we may make CUSIPs available in the future. In the meantime, CUSIPs for major issuers can be found easily with an internet such on web pages like this one from the New York Stock Exchange.

Background on the Calculations

The use of default probabilities to make bond investors is new for many investors. For a guide to the advantages of using default probabilities in fixed income investment strategy, we recommend this overview published recently by JPMorgan Asset Management.

Assuming the recovery rate in the event of default would be the same on all bond issues of the same seniority, a sophisticated investor who has moved beyond legacy ratings seeks to maximize revenue per basis point of default risk from each incremental investment, subject to risk limits on macro-factor exposure on a fully default-adjusted basis.

Maximizing the ratio of credit spread to matched-maturity default probabilities requires that default probabilities be available at a wide range of maturities. We used the default probabilities supplied by Kamakura Corporation's KRIS default probability service, interpolated to a matched-maturity basis to the exact day of bond maturity. For maturities longer than ten years, we assume that the ten-year default probability is a good estimate of default risk.

Bond yields are secured from TRACE. The National Association of Securities Dealers launched the TRACE (Trade Reporting and Compliance Engine) system in July 2002 in order to increase price transparency in the U.S. corporate debt market. The system captures information on secondary market transactions in publicly traded securities (investment grade, high yield and convertible corporate debt) representing all over-the-counter market activity in these bonds.

We used the trade-weighted average yield reported by TRACE for each of the bond issues analyzed. We calculated the credit spread using the matched-maturity yield on U.S. Treasury bonds, interpolated from the Federal Reserve H15 statistical release for the trade date. The source of the information on the H15 release is the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Forward-Looking Best Value Bond Selection

Today's analysis looks back at yesterday's trades. A forward-looking bond selection based on today's prices at this instant is done in the same way, with slight differences in the data sources.

Author's Note

Regular readers of these notes are aware that we generally do not list the major news headlines relevant to the firms in question. We believe that other authors on Seeking Alpha, Yahoo, at The New York Times, The Financial Times, and The Wall Street Journal do a fine job of this. Our omission of those headlines is intentional. Similarly, to argue that a specific news event is more important than all other news events in the outlook for the firm is something we again believe is inappropriate for this author. Our focus is on current bond prices, credit spreads, and default probabilities, key statistics that we feel are critical for both fixed income and equity investors.

Disclosure: The author has no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. The author wrote this article themselves, and it expresses their own opinions. The author is not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). The author has no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Editor's Note: This article discusses one or more securities that do not trade on a major U.S. exchange. Please be aware of the risks associated with these stocks.