Trade Update: Navigator Fixed Income Total Return

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Includes: EGF, FTT, GOVT, PLW, RINF, TAPR
by: Clark Capital Management Group

By K. Sean Clark, CFA Chief Investment Officer

The Navigator Fixed Income Total Return strategy traded out of our 98% Treasury allocation into 98% high yield on February 29th. To recap the recent reallocations, the strategy went into Treasuries on December 9th. During that time period, the high yield market declined and Treasuries advanced. The Barclays U.S. Corporate High Yield Index was down 3.48% while the Barclays U.S. 7-10 Year Treasury Bond Index was up 4.21% from December 9, 2015 to February 28, 2016.

The high yield market has sold off sharply and has reached spread levels not seen since September 2011. The chart below details the option adjusted yield spread between the Barclays High Yield Index and the 10-year Treasury. The decline in the high yield market evidently was started by the energy sector decline but has spread across the whole high yield market as market participants are pricing in a recession and higher future defaults based upon the current spread.

However, the recent economic news is not signaling a recession. Last Friday, GDP growth came in better than expected at 1% compared to an expectation of .4%. Expected inflation also rose beyond expectations - 1.7% compared to an expectation of 1.4% and the prior month was revised up from 1.4% to 1.5%. The Fed has a focus on the personal consumption expenditure (PCE) economic indicator. On Friday, the PCE came in at 1.7% above expectations also at 1.4%. Energy markets have stabilized with oil holding in the $30/barrel range, which is approximately 20% above their lows.

There is a big disconnect between where the economy is and where high yield is trading. Our model picked up the recent strength in high yield as market participants are seeing value in high yield. In other words, with the Barclays U.S. Corporate High Yield Index yielding 9.19% (as of 2/29), what's not to like about the high yield market? The strategy is currently yielding over 7% as of February 29th.

Past performance is not indicative of future results. The opinions expressed are those of the Clark Capital Management Group Investment Team. The opinions referenced are as of the date of publication and are subject to change due to changes in the market or economic conditions and may not necessarily come to pass. Nothing herein should be construed as a solicitation, recommendation or an offer to buy, sell or hold any securities, other investments or to adopt any investment strategy or strategies. This material is not intended to be relied upon as a forecast or research. The material presented has been derived from sources considered to be reliable, but the accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed.

Clark Capital Management Group, Inc. reserves the right to modify its current investment strategies and techniques based on changing market dynamics or client needs. It should not be assumed that any of the investment recommendations or decisions we make in the future will be profitable or will equal the investment performance of the securities discussed herein.

Clark Capital Management Group, Inc. is an investment adviser registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training. More information about Clark Capital's advisory services can be found in its Form ADV, which is available upon request.