Strong demand continued to fuel the junk bond market last week. Junk bond issuers had priced $2.6 billion of new issues by Friday, bringing the year-to-date total to $25.1 billion. Inflows to high-yield mutual funds totaled $283.4 million last week, according to AMG Data Services, bringing year-to-date flows to $3.1 billion.
Roughly $8.9 billion of new issues are on the forward calendar and set to price in the next few weeks. "It seems the market has found an outlet for all of the cash buildup that they have experienced," said Richard Miller, head of high-yield research at BancBoston Securities. "A flood of new issuance has kept the buy-side investors focused on roadshows."
With yields on the 10-year Treasury at historical lows, the high-yield market continues to be a welcome place for companies to raise money, participants said.
"You're seeing our market getting larger because we're disintermediating the bank (loan), venture capital, and equity markets," added Mark Brostowski, head of high-yield trading at BancBoston.
But investors are becoming a bit more guarded as concerns about credit quality begin to surface.
"Whenever you get a heated new-issue environment, the risk and the probability of having questionable credits come to market is higher," Mr. Miller said.
Among the sales completed last week, Chase Securities Inc. led a $300 million issue for LIN Television Corp. and a $325 million issue of 10-year bonds for LIN Holdings Corp. The issues are helping finance LIN's acquisition by Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst, a Dallas leveraged buyout shop.
Merrill Lynch & Co. and CS First Boston raised $115 million in gross proceeds for Aladdin Gaming Holdings LLC. After five years, the coupon on the senior discount notes will be 13.5%. The bonds for the Las Vegas-based company will help finance the construction of a hotel and casino.
In other junk news, Joseph Bencivenga lured three more high-yield pros to BZW Securities, the investment banking arm of Barclays PLC. Mr. Bencivenga, global head of high-yield and emerging market credit products, hired Alan Ginsburg as a managing director and head of research. Mr. Ginsburg was previously head of high-yield research at Salomon Smith Barney.
Philip Falcone of Natwest Securities was named head of high-yield trading. And Jerry Connolly of Citicorp joined BZW to head high-yield sales.