Natixis Canada Blog

Preferred Shares:


Preferred Shares Rally into Early April, But Finish the Month Slightly Lower

Jeff Herold
Jeff Herold, Portfolio Manager, NexGen Canadian Preferred Share Fund

The Canadian preferred share market initially extended its rally into early April, but prices declined over the balance of the month to finish slightly lower than where they began. In part, the pullback later in the month could have been market fatigue as preferred share prices have risen almost continuously since mid-November. As well, some investors appeared to have been buying rate reset issues in anticipation that rising 5-year Canada bond yields would improve their dividend rates. However, when bond yields hit their lowest level of 2017 in April, that rationale lost support. The decline in bond yields reflected a risk-off shift in investor confidence which impacted preferred shares, as well as common equities. Also, index rebalancing later in the month saw more issues entering the index than being removed. In order to make room for the additions, indexed portfolio managers may have been forced to do more generalized selling of other issues, which led to further weakness in the market. In addition, the issuance of structured notes linked to preferred share ETFs declined, thereby reducing preferred share demand for hedging purposes. The S&P/TSX Preferred Share Total Return index had a flat return of 0% in the month.

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Canadian Preferred Shares Continue Their Upward Pattern in March

Jeff Herold
Jeff Herold, Portfolio Manager, NexGen Canadian Preferred Share Fund

Canadian preferred share prices continued to move upward in a seesaw pattern during March. An absence of new issues and occasional ETF flows were contributing factors behind the market strength. Interestingly, increased purchases of preferred share ETFs had a delayed reaction to underlying preferred share prices. As well, when ETF volumes declined, it led to preferred share prices retracing their gains. The S&P/TSX Preferred Share index returned 1.81% in the month. The Solactive Laddered Rate Reset index gained 2.13%, as rate reset issues outperformed other types of preferred shares.

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Canadian Preferred Shares Continued to Move Upward in Price in February

Jeff Herold
Jeff Herold, Portfolio Manager, NexGen Canadian Preferred Share Fund

Following their very strong gains in January, Canadian preferred shares continued to move upward in price in February, but at a more subdued pace. Reduced activity in preferred share Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) probably accounted for the smaller preferred share gains. The Bank of Montreal Laddered Rate Reset ETF (ZPR) experienced a 45% drop in units created from January to February, although a meaningful $81.8 million still flowed into the ETF. We suspect that the lower activity in ZPR reflected reduced hedging requirements for structured notes as the RSP season wound down. Because of the lower demand for rate reset preferred shares, that sector underperformed the broad market for the first time since last September. Also in February, new issue activity increased to four issues, compared with only one the previous month. The S&P/TSX Preferred Share index returned 1.49% in the month.

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Preferred Shares Immune to the Volatility Arising From the Changeover in U.S. Administration

Jeff Herold
Jeff Herold, Portfolio Manager, NexGen Canadian Preferred Share Fund

The Canadian preferred share market started 2017 with a bang, outperforming investment grade bonds, common stocks and even junk bonds by a significant margin. Unlike other securities, preferred shares were immune to the volatility arising from the changeover in the U.S. administration. In part, the strong performance of preferred shares reflected investors’ ongoing search for attractive yield combined with limited new issue supply. In addition to investors purchasing outstanding individual issues, preferred share ETF trading volumes hit a record high in January. We believe that much of the ETF activity did not reflect simple buying of the asset class, rather, it was hedging of structured notes linked to the preferred share market. The S&P/TSX Preferred Share index returned 4.05% in January.

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Canadian Preferred Share Market Moves Sharply Higher In December

Jeff Herold
Jeff Herold, Portfolio Manager, NexGen Canadian Preferred Share Fund

The Canadian preferred share market moved sharply higher in December as large scale buying of preferred share Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) pushed the prices of individual issues upward. A lack of new issues contributed to the market’s strength. As well, in contrast with recent years, there was relatively little tax-loss selling in December. Rate reset issues performed particularly well as a result of direct investor interest and also due to hedging of structured products. The S&P/TSX Preferred Share Index returned +3.59% in the month.

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