Apple on Wednesday joined U.S. companies ranging from Deere & Co. to Walt Disney in a recent sprint to issue new bonds, taking advantage of the steep decline in benchmark interest rates and a surge in investor demand.
Apple launched its first bond deal since 2017 and is looking to raise $4 billion to $5 billion with bonds ranging in maturity from three to 30 years, according to people familiar with the sale.
Twenty-one corporations with investment-grade credit ratings issued bonds totaling about $27 billion on Tuesday, said Andrew Karp, head of investment-grade capital markets at Bank of America. “That’s equivalent to a busy week for us — in one day,” he said.
The bond boom is the corporate version of the refinancing rush that hit the mortgage market last month as homeowners moved to lock in cheaper loans. Sharply declining U.S. government bond yields — the 10-year Treasury yields about 1.5% compared with around 2% in July — have dragged down corporate borrowing costs in lockstep. The yield of Disney’s bond due in 2046 fell to 2.83% from 3.3% since the start of August, according to data from MarketAxess.
Deere and Disney nabbed record-low yields on bonds they issued Tuesday and the surge continued Wednesday with Apple leading the charge. Coca-Cola and health insurer Anthem also announced new bond sales Wednesday, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.
Companies are also capitalizing on a surge in demand for investment-grade corporate debt in recent months that is helping to drive yields lower, said Gibson Smith, founder of Denver-based Smith Capital Investors.
“The flows are presenting issuers with an opportunity to borrow at new lows,” he said.
Mutual funds focusing on corporate investment-grade bonds took in $32 billion over the past three months compared with $77 billion of outflows from all stock funds over the same period, according to data from Thomson Reuters Lipper.
The asset class is still attracting inflows because it occupies a sweet spot in the fixed-income landscape. Bonds issued by name-brand corporations give investors a relatively safe alternative that still pays more than government bonds when they switch out of stocks and high-yield debt because of global uncertainty. Conversely, government-bond investors fleeing the negative yields spreading through Asia and Europe can buy corporate bonds without taking on too much more risk.
U.S. government bond yields were virtually unchanged Wednesday after initially rising on optimism about easing tensions in Hong Kong.
The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note recently traded at 1.466%, compared with around 1.469% Tuesday, according to data from Tradeweb. Yields fall as bond prices rise.