Every scandal needs a scapegoat. In the case of the Americanas accounting breach (AMER3), unveiled just over ten days ago, analysts believe that bonds are fulfilling this role.
The dealer problem presents several developments in the market, which should continue to appear for a long time to come. One of these happens precisely in bonds. The judicial recovery request of the company, which has debts of R$ 43 billion with over 16,000 creditors, directly affects the holders of its credit instruments.
Bonds are securities issued by companies and traded on the capital market. In some respects its functioning is similar to that of public securities traded in the Direct Treasury. But instead of funding the government, bond-buyers lend money to a company to build a new factory, expand operations overseas, or make any other large investment.
Since the issuance conditions are defined by the company itself, bonds end up being a more flexible way to raise funds and also cheaper than traditional bank financing.
From an investor’s perspective, however, these stocks – like all others – carry risks that become more apparent when a problem such as Americanas occurs. Investigation of InfoMoney, with data from Anbima Data, indicates that most of the bonds issued by the dealer do not have collateral. There is only one bond loan – traded under the ticker LAMEA8 – with a variable guarantee, in which the merchant’s assets are given as guarantee.
According to specialists, this means that those who own unsecured bonds will go to the end of the dealer’s line of credit. This “turn” is being felt by investors and there are already people wondering whether it is worth investing in bonds after the shock. What are the risks assumed by those who buy bonds?
Are bonds really the problem?
“A problem like that of the Americans brings greater visibility, both for the type of product [debêntures] and also for the risk it offers in the secondary market. At that early stage, it’s a risk-off movement,” explains Camilla Dolle, head of fixed income research at XP.
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Over the past week, Americanas bonds have been trading at discounts of nearly 90% to face value, marked up according to the yield curve.
Investors, of course, are wary. Bonds have always carried a level of risk considered higher than government bonds (issued by the government and, therefore, considered risk-free assets) or CDBs (which are covered by the Fundo Garantidor de Crédito, the FGC.
But the market only seems to remember risk when a “dip” occurs. When buying a private credit card, such as bonds, CRIs (Real Estate Receiving Certificates) or CRAs (Agribusiness Receipt Certificates), the investor must be aware of receiving a higher remuneration precisely because they also present higher risks.
In the case of Americanas, the fact that the company has high credit risk has attracted attention. “What we usually say as analysts, both in the research area and in a assessment, is based on information provided by the companies. No one realized, not even auditing, that there was a problem of very large proportions until the company itself went public. We cannot say that it was a scam, the investigations are underway ”, says Camilla.
According to the analyst, in order to reduce the level of risk, the ideal is not to be too exposed to the bonds of a single issuer. “When it comes to private credit, the path is to have no more than 3% to 5% of our allocation in the portfolio,” she says.
Avoiding bonds is not the point. Understand the risk behind the activities that is
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Camilla Dolle, Head of Fixed Income Research at XP
Marília Fontes, founding partner of Nord Research, agrees on portfolio diversification. She points out that a problem like Americanas happens every two or three years in the private credit market. “I remember the same thing happening in Oi’s judicial recovery. There was a Banco do Brasil fund, which was also one of the funds with the largest number of shareholders [e teve perdas]”, he states”. “Everyone started talking about the topic. The market has a short memory. For her, a good credit manager balances and diversifies the portfolio.
The lack of FGC adds risk to bonds
For Gustavo Cruz, chief strategist at RB Investimentos, one of the main risks of investing in bonds is not having the Fundo Garantidor de Crédito (FGC), a sort of “insurance” found in CDB, LCI (real estate credit bonds), LCA (agribusiness letters of credit) and other bank securities that return up to R$ 250,000 per investor in the event of problems with the financial institution.
“The FGC plays a very important role for investors in extreme cases like this. One of the risks is precisely this, that the company does not pay or suspends the payment of interest. That is why, in most cases, bonds are accompanied by a credit note issued by a credit agency. assessment“, details.
And Americanas isn’t the only company questioned at this bad time, says the expert. Companies that have awarded the assessment of its debts, the companies that audited its balance sheets, as well as the retailer’s board of directors, are all being asked: How did anyone see the hole? “And they also gave Americanas high marks,” he points out.
In general, bonds are long-term securities. “Here at RB we are carrying out a survey to verify the scenario, also in relation to some baskets of emerging markets: Brazil has a very volatile exchange rate, as does Ibovespa. Therefore, it already has a disadvantage compared to other products,” says Cruz.
The “ugly duckling” of investing?
“Bonds have come to be called the ugly duckling of history, when, really, it’s not their fault,” says Ricardo Jorge, fixed income specialist and partner at Quantzed.
The problem is not in the assets, but in the management of the companies
Ricardo Jorge, partner at Quantzed
Jorge disagrees with the statement that the bond market becomes riskier after the Americanas case: the risk of bonds remains the same. “What investors need is to be very careful when investing in private debt securities,” he analyzes.
These assets pay more precisely because they offer greater risk. “It is important that the investor is cautious in the allocation and studies the company and the title as much as possible to try to minimize the risk”. Diversification is always the big “key point”, according to the expert.
“The risks of bonds are high, they always have been, and those of retail bonds are even greater. A much more detailed fundamentalist analysis is needed,” explains Jenni Almeida, financial strategist at Invest4U.
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He says it is necessary to know what the company will do with the funds raised – whether it will pay suppliers or pay off debts, among others – and understand the segment it belongs to, as well as know if the company is healthy.
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