M&G Corporate Bond Fund

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1 M&G Corporate Bond Fund a sub-fund of M&G Investment Funds (3) Annual Short Report June 2015 For the year ended 30 June 2015

2 Fund information The Authorised Corporate Director (ACD) of M&G Investment Funds (3) presents its Annual Short Report for M&G Corporate Bond Fund which contains a review of the sub-funds investment activities and investment performance during the period. The ACD s Annual Long Report and audited Financial Statements for M&G Investment Funds (3), incorporating all the sub-funds and a Glossary of terms is available free of charge either from our website at or by calling M&G Customer Relations on ACD M&G Securities Limited, Laurence Pountney Hill, London EC4R 0HH Telephone: (Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. M&G Securities Limited is a member of the Investment Association (formerly the Investment Management Association) and of the Tax Incentivised Savings Association.) Investment objective The Fund aims to achieve a higher total return (the combination of income and growth of capital) from investment than would be obtainable in UK government fixed interest securities (ie gilts) of similar maturities. Investment policy The Fund invests mainly in sterling denominated corporate debt instruments. The Fund s exposure to corporate debt may be gained through the use of derivatives. Any currency exposures within the Fund may be managed by currency hedges into sterling. The Fund may also invest in other assets including collective investment schemes, other transferable securities and other debt instruments (including corporate debt and government and public securities denominated in any currency), cash and near cash, deposits, warrants, money market instruments and other derivative instruments. Investment approach The M&G Corporate Bond Fund is invested primarily in sterlingdenominated investment grade debt. However, up to 20% of the portfolio may be invested in higher yielding corporate bonds, government debt, convertibles and preference stocks, as well as money market instruments. The fund s exposure to corporate debt may be gained through the use of derivatives. The investment approach is very much top-down, therefore, the fund manager s economic outlook will determine the portfolio s duration, and in which asset classes and sectors it is concentrated. The fund manager uses proprietary research, rather than external research. M&G s in-house team of credit analysts provides bottom-up analysis of the corporate bond markets, which complements the fund manager s top-down views. Risk profile The fund invests mainly in sterling denominated fixed income securities, or bonds, issued by UK companies. It is primarily subject to the price volatility of the UK bond market as well as the performance of individual issuers. It is also influenced by developments in the broader global bond market. In addition, the fund is subject to fluctuations in currency exchange rates. The fund s focus is on high-quality corporate bonds, securities that are normally traded with relative ease. Up to 20% of the fund may be invested in other fixed income investments, such as government bonds, which are typically highly liquid assets, or high yield corporate bonds, which are higher risk assets that could potentially experience a degree of illiquidity in times of market distress. The fund s exposure to debt securities may be gained through the use of derivatives. In association with the use of derivatives, including those instruments not traded through an exchange, collateral is deposited with a range of counterparties, in order to mitigate the risk that a counterparty may default on its obligations or become insolvent. Portfolio diversification is key in managing liquidity and default risks as well as reducing market risk. The fund s risks are measured and managed as an integral part of the investment process. 1 2

3 Fund information Investment review The risk management policies are set out in note 2 of the Annual Long Report and audited Financial Statements for M&G Investment Funds (3). The following table is the risk and reward indicator table and is based on Sterling Class A shares. Low risk Typically lower rewards This is the risk number associated with the fund. High risk Typically higher rewards The above risk number is based on the rate at which the value of the fund has moved up and down in the past and is based on historical data and may not be a reliable indicator of the future risk profile of the fund. The risk number shown is not guaranteed and may change over time and the lowest risk number does not mean risk free. Please note that during this period the risk number has changed. From 30 June 2014 to 18 March 2015 the risk number was 4. As at 1 July 2015, for the year ended 30 June 2015 Investment performance During the 12 months under review, the M&G Corporate Bond Fund produced a positive total return (capital performance with income reinvested) across all share classes. Euro share class returns are significantly higher because the euro steadily fell in value against sterling, the fund s base currency. This has had the effect of enhancing returns when converted into euros. The fund performed in line with its peer group of comparable corporate bond funds. The M&G Corporate Bond Fund invests predominantly in high quality sterling denominated corporate bonds with the aim of generating a superior total return than would be obtainable from investing in UK government bonds (gilts). Bonds are loans that are extended by an investor to an issuing entity such as a company or government in exchange for regular interest payments. Bonds issued by companies are referred to as corporate bonds, while those issued by governments are called government bonds. Investment grade corporate bonds refer to fixed income securities issued by a company with a medium or high credit rating from a recognised credit rating agency. They are considered to be at lower risk of non-repayment than those issued by companies with lower credit ratings (known as high yield bonds). The reporting period can broadly be separated into two distinct parts as concerns regarding a faltering global economic recovery gave way to cautious optimism. The first part, from mid-2014 until early February 2015, is marked by a strong demand for the government bonds of key developed nations, which are perceived as a safe haven. Indeed, demand for bonds issued by the US, German and UK governments was so high that yields reached record lows (bond yields move in the opposite direction to bond prices). This demand for safe haven bonds was driven by investors concerns about a growing number of economic and geopolitical issues that threatened to derail the global economic recovery. In particular, fears of stagnating global economic growth and the diverging fortunes of key developed nations were foremost in the minds of investors. However, February began to see greater volatility in markets as a mix of factors determined the direction of markets. Stronger economic data releases from the US and positive policy action by a large number of central banks around the world were offset by continued deflationary concerns in March. This combined with the launch of the European 3 4

4 Investment review Central Bank s (ECB s) economic stimulus programme to drive government bond yields lower and narrow the difference between yields on government and corporate bonds. The rest of the review period was marked by a significant reversal of the rally. From mid-april, yields on US Treasuries, gilts and, most notably bunds (German government bonds) all rose, returning to December 2014 levels in just two months. The sell-off can be attributed to a number of factors. Firmer inflationary data in Europe and very strong job and retail sales data in the US both pointed to an improving global economy, and that the US Federal Reserve (Fed) may yet raise interest rates this year. This gave investors reason to reconsider the extremely high valuations in core government bonds, particularly bunds. However, waning deflationary concerns were offset by jitters surrounding the Greek debt crisis in June and the implications of a possible exit from the eurozone. Successive rounds of negotiations to bail out the ailing economy failed as an end-june repayment deadline on outstanding debt drew nearer. A falling oil price, worries about elevated bond supply, the UK general election and China s falling growth rate also contributed to volatility over the last three months of the review period. Investment activities Over the review period, we adjusted the positioning of the M&G Corporate Bond Fund to reflect changes in our outlook regarding interest rates and credit risk (that is, companies ability to repay their debts). One of the key drivers of a bond fund s performance is its ability to reduce or increase the portfolio s sensitivity to changes in an economy s interest rates, known as duration. This was the primary focus of our investment activity over the past twelve months. We held the fund s sensitivity to interest rate risk fairly steady over the review period, reducing it slightly from just over 7 years to 6.6 years. This position is short relative to the fund s comparable index, the iboxx Corporate Index. It reflects our view that the global economic recovery is improving, particularly in the US and the UK, and that interest rates will likely be raised soon as a result. There were no significant changes to the portfolio s asset allocation over the period. Exposure to investment grade bonds relative to the fund s overall holdings fell slightly, while exposure to higher yielding bonds rose slightly. By sector, the largest exposure is to bonds issued by financial companies, although the exposure is less than the fund s reference index and we remain highly selective when lending to firms in that sector. Regarding specific transactions, we saw, and continue to see, value in longer dated bonds in US dollar denominations, relative to shorter dated bonds in other denominations. We bought bonds of 25 years or more from Apple, Microsoft, AT&T and Vodafone among others. We also cycled existing, short-dated positions into longer dated ones, including positions in Walmart and Verizon. Outlook The outlook for the global economy is improving and inflation is starting to pick up in key developed economies, notably the US and the UK, helped by the stimulative effects of a weak oil price. Meanwhile, Europe looks to be stabilising. We believe that central banks in the US and UK will need to respond to improvements in their respective economies shortly. Indeed, in the case of the US, we believe that the Fed may need to respond imminently given the strength of recent employment data and the delay with which monetary policy changes can take effect. Meanwhile, in the UK, growth remains at around 3% and inflation data is encouraging. We expect to see an interest rate rise in the US this year, followed by the UK. In Europe, we believe that the economy is in better shape than the market thinks and that the economy may be turning a corner following years of loose monetary policy. Europe s policy response was slow post-financial crisis, and some eurozone members face significant challenges, where debt and unemployment rates are still high, particularly in the peripheral economies. However, economic data has improved since the end of 2014 and there are clear signs that the economy is stabilising. In light of these views, we are positioned defensively with respect to interest rate risk. Our core view continues to be that government bond yields are overvalued and will rise slightly from here. Conversely, we believe this improving economic environment will support businesses and, in turn, corporate bond valuations. In our view, current valuations adequately compensate for risk and premiums over government bonds are largely unchanged since the end of 2013, despite improving economic conditions. 5 6

5 Investment review In investment grade bonds, we have a preference for US dollar and sterling assets over euro denominations, and see especially good value in long-dated US dollar bonds. In high yield bonds, we remain positive on a selective basis. Current more relaxed bank lending standards support a lower default rate. And while valuations are not cheap on an historical basis, demand for higher yields will remain if the Fed tightens interest rates slowly and valuations remain attractive on a relative basis. Richard Woolnough Fund manager Classification of investments AAA credit rated bonds AA credit rated bonds A credit rated bonds % of the fund value (net assets attributable to shareholders) 7.82% 7.82% 14.23% 12.14% 21.61% 25.78% An employee of M&G Limited which is an associate of M&G Securities Limited. Please note that the views expressed in this Report should not be taken as a recommendation or advice on how the fund or any holding mentioned in the Report is likely to perform. If you wish to obtain financial advice as to whether an investment is suitable for your needs, you should consult a Financial Adviser. BBB credit rated bonds BB credit rated bonds B credit rated bonds 3.24% 2.57% 0.13% 0.28% 39.10% 37.66% CCC credit rated bonds 0.00% 0.05% Bonds with no credit rating 11.11% 11.15% Credit default swaps 0.02% 0.05% Forward currency contracts 0.40% 0.18% Interest rate futures contracts 0.07% 0.00% AAA rated money market funds [a] 1.28% 0.87% [a] Uncommitted surplus cash is placed into AAA rated money market funds with the aim of reducing counterparty risk. 30 June June 2014 Source: M&G 7 8

6 Financial highlights Fund performance The following sections show performance at share class level. Please note past performance is not a guide to future performance and the value of investments, and the income from them, will fluctuate. This will cause the fund price to fall as well as rise and you may not get back the original amount you invested. To give an indication of how the results of the investment activities during the year have affected the performance of the fund the following tables show the returns attributable to Sterling Class A. For the specific performance of your share class please refer to the Annual Long Report and audited Financial Statements for M&G Investment Funds (3), which is available free of charge either from our website at or by calling M&G Customer Relations on Performance since launch To give an indication of how the fund has performed since launch, the graph below shows total return of Sterling Class A (Accumulation) shares. Long-term performance one year three years five years since launch % % p.a. [a] % p.a. [a] % p.a. [a] Sterling [b] Class A [c] [a] Shows the compound rate of return, per annum, over the period. [b] Bid to bid with net income reinvested. [c] 15 April 1994, all performance data prior to 11 March 2002 (the launch date of the share class) has been calculated by reference to a conversion factor due to a change of the nominated share class. Yield The estimated gross distribution yield on 1 July 2015 Distribution % Sterling Class A April 1994 = 100, plotted monthly Chart date 1 July Sterling Class A (Accumulation) shares* Distribution yield: The distribution yield reflects the amounts that may be expected to be distributed over the next twelve months as a percentage of the mid-market price of the fund as at the date shown. It is based on a snapshot of the portfolio on that date. It does not include any preliminary charge and investors may be subject to tax on distributions. Income Interest income per share Calendar Distributed Reinvested year Interims Final Interim Total Sterling (net) p p p p p Class A [a] Source: M&G * Net income reinvested [a] Up to final: ex-distribution date 1 July 2015; payment date 31 August

7 Financial highlights Fund performance Financial highlights Operating charges and portfolio transaction costs Ongoing charges Final distribution Ongoing charges Inc Acc figure [a] [a] [a] Sterling p p % % Class A [a] The ongoing charges figure is the ratio of the relevant annualised total disclosable costs of each share class from the most recent reporting period to the average net asset value for that share class over the same period. Fund performance Performance of share class Net asset value Net asset value Net asset value per share as at per share as at % change Inc Acc Inc Acc Inc Acc Sterling p p p p % % Class A Prices Calendar Income shares Accumulation shares year Highest Lowest Highest Lowest Sterling (net) p p p p Class A [a] [b] We explain below the payments made to meet the ongoing costs of investing and managing the fund, comprised of operating charges and portfolio transaction costs. Operating charges Operating charges include payments made to M&G and to providers independent of M&G: Investment management: Charge paid to M&G for investment management of the fund (also known as Annual Management Charge). Administration: Charge paid to M&G for administration services in addition to investment management any surplus from this charge will be retained by M&G. Oversight and other independent services: Charges paid to providers independent of M&G for services including depositary, custody and audit. Operating charges do not include transaction costs or any entry and exit charges (also known as initial and redemption charges). The charging structures of share classes may differ, and therefore the amounts may also differ. Operating charges are the same as the ongoing charges shown in the Key Investor Information Document, other than where an estimate has been used for the ongoing charge because a material change has made the operating charges unreliable as an estimate of future charges. [a] The Prudential Corporate Bond Trust merged into the M&G Corporate Bond Fund immediately after 17 June [b] To 1 July

8 Financial highlights Operating charges and portfolio transaction costs Portfolio transaction costs Portfolio transaction costs are incurred by funds when buying and selling investments. These costs vary depending on the types of investment, their market capitalisation, country of exchange, method of execution and the quality of research provided. They are made up of direct and indirect portfolio transaction costs: Direct portfolio transaction costs: Broker execution commission, taxes, and costs of research from brokers and other research providers. Indirect portfolio transaction costs: Dealing spread the difference between the buying and selling prices of the fund s investments; some types of investment, such as fixed interest securities, have no direct transaction costs and only the dealing spread is paid. Investments are bought or sold by a fund when changes are made to the investment portfolio and in response to net flows of money into or out of the fund from investors buying and selling shares in the fund. To protect existing investors, portfolio transaction costs incurred as a result of investors buying and selling shares in the fund are recovered from those investors through a dilution adjustment to the price they pay or receive. The table below shows direct portfolio transaction costs paid by the fund before and after that part of the dilution adjustment relating to direct portfolio transaction costs. Further information on this process is in the Prospectus, which is available free of charge on request either from our website at or by calling M&G Customer Relations on Direct portfolio transaction costs [a] % % % Broker commission Taxes Costs before dilution adjustment Dilution adjustment [b] Total direct portfolio transaction costs [a] As a % of average net asset value. [b] In respect of direct portfolio transaction costs. 13

9 Contact Customer Relations* Write to us at:** M&G Securities Limited PO Box 9039 Chelmsford CM99 2XG Our website: us with queries: * For security purposes and to improve the quality of our service, we may record and monitor telephone calls. You will require your M&G client reference. Failure to provide this will affect your ability to transact with us. ** Please remember to quote your name and M&G client reference and sign any written communication to M&G. Failure to provide this may affect your ability to transact with us. Please note that information contained within an cannot be guaranteed as secure. We advise that you do not include any sensitive information when corresponding with M&G in this way. M&G Securities Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and provides investment products. The company s registered office is Laurence Pountney Hill, London EC4R 0HH. Registered in England number _SR_310816

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