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Aviva's Higham: liquidity a big issue for bond managers
by Annabelle Williams on May 30, 2012 at 07:00
‘Liquidity has been difficult in corporate bonds for the last four or five years. That has been a problem that we have been grappling with. But it is still at levels that we are able to deal with as portfolio managers. It’s an ongoing challenge and I think it is likely to get worse before it gets better,’ he said.
His favourite bond in recent months has been US packaging company Reynolds Group. ‘It has been one of my best performing bonds. It was trading at 50p in the pound – that’s probably been our star performer,’ he said.
Higham’s other top holdings include civic infrastructure companies, such as shopping centres – including Meadowhall in Sheffield and Manchester’s Trafford Centre – alongside Tees and Hartlepool Ports.
While lacking in glamour, these assets have a ‘unique’ role in the British economy and have continued to provided solid performance in recent years.
‘They are all quite unique assets but we like them because they are secured on real assets,’ he said. ‘A shopping centre in Sheffield might not seem ideal but there are going to be people there with money to spend.’
Pubs, which have also proven hardy performers during recessionary times, also feature in Higham’s funds and he particularly likes Spirit Group. ‘It recently demerged from Punch. It’s a managed asset – we like them – and we have a yield of 8% secured on a real asset,’ he said.
On the domestic front
Also on the domestic front, a holding in Odeon has proved fruitful as the company fights back against technological changes and still draws crowds to high street cinemas.
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