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In our note, Simple Simon Says, we explored three aspects of Volta’s portfolio, highlighting their simplification – simplified. Firstly, unless there is a compelling, opportunistic case, new investments will be in CLO structures only, and not in other structured finance instruments. The asset mix is being simplified. Second, there should be an increased weighting to AXA IM managed CLO vehicles, reflecting good performance and lower fees. The manager mix is being simplified. Third, we detail why CLOs are, at heart, simple cashflow structures, which should be viewed as such, free from the terminology that may confuse a clear story.

  • Simpler portfolio: Over recent years, Volta has seen an increasing weight to CLO investments. It has been agreed with the board to put into policy that reinvestment, when non-CLO assets mature, will be into CLOs, making the mandate much clearer. The portfolio will be more focused, as assets roll over.
  • Greater AXA IM managed CLO investments: AXA IM has been awarded “Best US CLO Manager of the Year” (in 2021, by Credit Flux), highlighting AXA IM’s performance. Volta is not paying management fees on AXA IM CLO positions, and, over time, AXA IM CLOs are expected to be a higher share of the portfolio.
  • Valuation: Volta trades at a 17% discount to NAV (which is subject to significant external input and oversight). The relative discount to Fair Oaks seems anomalous, as, over the long term, Volta has delivered a better NAV performance. Volta aims for 8% NAV distribution (dividend yield 10.0% 2022E, 10.6% 2023E).
  • Risks: Credit risk is a key sensitivity (Volta has a widely diversified portfolio). We examined the valuation of assets, highlighting the multiple controls to ensure its validity, in our initiation note. NAV is affected by sentiment towards its own and underlying markets. Volta’s long $ position is only partially hedged.
  • Investment summary: Volta is an investment for sophisticated investors, as both the NAV and the discount to NAV reflect sentiment. This may be expected to normalise over time, and we note that BGLF’s model-based approach saw its NAV drop by only a third that of Volta in March 2020. Fundamental long-term returns have been good: 8.8% p.a. (dividend reinvested basis) since inception. Volta’s performance relative to its peers has been strong, and returns for investments made after the financial crisis were double those in prior years.
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