Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Among the winners from the recent retail-driven frenzy in U.S. stocks are investors in the niche market of convertible debt, capping a year of gains for the securities and potentially drawing new interest.

While buyout firm Silver Lake capitalized on a surge in AMC Entertainment, one of the stocks at the epicenter of the retail frenzy linked to a convertible bond, others have also seen their bonds gain.

Those holding convertible notes - which allow investors to convert the debt to equity when a company’s shares hit a set price - in Ligand Pharmaceuticals have seen prices rise 10% since Jan. 25. Over the same period, the American Airlines convertible note rose to a record high, as did that of First Majestic Silver , last up 9% and 14% respectively. All three stocks were pushed higher in the retail buying rush.

Story continues below advertisement

“This is why you buy convertibles,” said Geoff Dancey, portfolio manager at Cutler Capital Management, who bought into the Ligand convertible bond just before the Reddit rally.

“We are benefiting from the rise, the same way as equity investors,” said Arnaud Brillois, who manages the global convertible portfolio at Lazard Asset Management. He noted that not all stocks that rose last week are linked to convertible bonds, which allow investors to gain from dramatic jumps in share prices but also pay a coupon like a traditional bond.

“When you have a stock going up, the convertible bond is going to capture a large part of the equity’s rise,” said Brillois. “The convertible bond will perform approximately 950% or 970% when the equity is doing 1000%.”

Two hedge fund investors who requested anonymity because they could not speak publicly about their positions said the market volatility also provided hedge funds with an opportunity to profit. They buy the convertible bonds of companies whose stock has soared and hedge their position by shorting the shares.

“This (retail) development has spurred a whole group of funds to adopt that strategy,” said a source who runs a U.S. hedge fund.

That arbitrage strategy - which takes advantage of differences in price between the debt and equity - has been utilized by funds like CQS, AQR Capital Management, Man Group and Whitebox Advisors, among others.

Last week’s market mania “benefited the private equity firms or whoever owned the bonds greatly; it benefited the company because they don’t have to pay back the debt, and it probably did not benefit whoever it was that was buying up that stock that hit crazy levels,” said Todd Pulvino, co-founder of CNH Partners, an affiliate of AQR that trades convertible arbitrage.

Story continues below advertisement

Gil Song, portfolio manager at Man GLG, said large, unexpected moves in stocks that benefit convertible arbitrage investors may become more common.

“Given recent estimates of retail participation in the market having doubled in the past two years alone, one might infer increased volatility is here to stay for at least some time,” said Song.

Whitebox Advisors declined to comment and CQS did not respond to a request for comment.

Funds that buy and sell both equity and debt have been scouring the market for opportunities created by the retail buying frenzy, said one fund source and a prime brokerage banker, who declined to be identified.

Companies that have convertible debt outstanding and whose equity valuations have become over-inflated fit the criteria for investing.

“You look for inefficiency in the pricing of the debt structure,” said one New York-based investor. “When the equity goes crazy, that creates an automatic opportunity to buy the debt.”

Story continues below advertisement

Convertible bonds do come with risks, as they are often in speculative-grade companies. However, Joe Wysocki, a convertible portfolio manager at Calamos Investments, said “regardless of what drives that stock - whether it’s the technicals or the fundamentals - by owning a convertible you retain some of that upside participation.”

While the Reddit rally has shown signs of weakening, two of the largest exchange-traded funds that track the convertible market, the iShares Convertible Bond ETF and the SPDR Bloomberg Barclays Convertible Securities ETF, hit all-time highs on Friday morning.

Be smart with your money. Get the latest investing insights delivered right to your inbox three times a week, with the Globe Investor newsletter. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies