Pimco shifts focus to capital preservation, likes Aussie bonds

Wed Jun 3, 2015 4:44am EDT
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By Vidya Ranganathan

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Bond fund manager Pimco has turned to Australian government bonds and short-term Japanese government debt as it looks not only for yield, but to protect its capital in an uncertain global fixed-income environment.

The U.S. fixed-income house, which until recently managed the world's largest bond fund, has cut the duration of its portfolio by half in the past year, sought assets across geographies, and gone for bonds that will prove resilient if economic conditions deteriorate.

Duration is the weighted-average maturity of a bond after taking into account all its cash flows.

Michael Thompson, Pimco's Singapore-based executive vice-president, told Reuters that Pimco's Income Fund PONPX.O invested in Australian bonds for their appealing yields - despite the risk posed by the currency.

"You get the high quality, the room for appreciation and the yield," Thompson said.

California-based Pimco, full name Pacific Investment Management Co, had assets $9.4 billion under management in the Income Fund at end-April.

Pimco Total Return Fund PRFAX.O , which was launched by legendary fund manager Bill Gross, lost its title as the world's biggest bond mutual fund last month following two years of sustained withdrawals. It had assets of $107.3 billion at the end of May. Gross left Pimco last year.

Pimco believes that it pays to take on some interest rate risk in the current low-yielding but uncertain environment, in which global markets are on tenterhooks waiting for the U.S. Federal Reserve to start raising its rates. Meanwhile, major central banks such as those of the euro zone, China and Japan are still pursuing their own unique forms of quantitative policy easing.   Continued...