SLF.PR.G and TRP.PR.B: Convert or Hold?

It will be recalled that SLF.PR.G will reset to 2.275% effective June 30 and TRP.PR.B will reset at 2.152% effective June 30.

Holders of SLF.PR.G and TRP.PR.B have the option to convert to FloatingResets, which will pay 3-month bills plus 141bp for the SLF issue and 3-month bills plus 128bp for the TRP issue; both rates will be on the par value of $25.00. The deadline for notifying the company of the intent to convert is June 15 for both issues; but note first that this is a company deadline and that brokers will generally set their deadlines a day or two in advance, so there’s not much time to lose if you’re planning to convert!However, if you miss the brokerage deadline they’ll probably do it on a ‘best efforts’ basis if you grovel in a sufficiently entertaining fashion.

The most logical way to analyze the question of whether or not to convert is through the theory of Preferred Pairs, for which a calculator is available. Briefly, a Strong Pair is defined as a pair of securities that can be interconverted in the future (e.g., SLF.PR.G and the FloatingReset, SLF.PR.?, that will exist if enough holders convert). Since they will be interconvertible on this future date, it may be assumed that they will be priced identically on this date (if they aren’t then holders will simply convert en masse to the higher-priced issue). And since they will be priced identically on a given date in the future, any current difference in price must be offset by expectations of an equal and opposite value of dividends to be received in the interim. And since the dividend rate on one element of the pair is both fixed and known, the implied average rate of the other, floating rate, instrument can be determined. Finally, we say, we may compare these average rates and take a view regarding the actual future course of that rate relative to the implied rate, which will provide us with guidance on which element of the pair is likely to outperform the other until the next interconversion date, at which time the process will be repeated.

We can show the break-even rates for each FixedReset / FloatingReset Strong Pair graphically by plotting the implied average 3-month bill rate against the next Exchange Date (which is the date to which the average will be calculated).

Click for Big

The market appears to have a distaste at the moment for floating rate product; most of the implied rates until the next interconversion are lower than the current 3-month bill rate! Whatever might be the result of the next few Bank of Canada overnight rate decisions, I suggest that it is unlikely that the average rate over the next five years will be lower than current – but if you disagree, of course, you may interpret the data any way you like.

Since credit quality of each element of the pair is equal to the other element, it should not make any difference whether the pair examined is investment-grade or junk, although we might expect greater variation of implied rates between junk issues on grounds of lower liquidity, and this is just what we see; four of the six junk pairs now in existence are not plotted on the graph as they have a negative implied T-Bill rate.

If we plug in the current bid price of the SLF.PR.G and TRP.PR.B FixedResets, we may construct the following table showing consistent prices for their soon-to-be-issued FloatingReset counterparts given a variety of Implied Breakeven yields consistent with issues currently trading:

Estimate of SLF.PR.? and TRP.PR.? FloatingReset Trading Price In Current Conditions
  Assumed FloatingReset
Price if Implied Bill
is equal to
FixedReset Bid Price Spread 0.25% +0.50% +0.75%
SLF.PR.G 16.11 141bp 15.45 15.72 15.99
TRP.PR.B 14.60 128bp 13.94 14.20 14.47

Based on current market conditions, I suggest that the FloatingResets that will result from conversion are likely to be cheap and trading below the price of their FixedReset counterparts. Therefore, I recommend that holders of SLF.PR.G and TRP.PR.B continue to hold the issues and not to convert. I will note that, given the apparent cheapness of the FloatingResets, it may be a good trade to swap the FixedReset for the FloatingReset in the market once both elements of each pair are trading and you can – presumably, according to this analysis – do it with a reasonably good take-out in price, rather than doing it through the company on a 1:1 basis. But that, of course, will depend on the prices at that time and your forecast for the future path of policy rates. There are no guarantees – my recommendation is based on the assumption that current market conditions with respect to the pairs will continue until the FloatingResets commence trading and that the relative pricing of the two new pairs will reflect these conditions.

Note as well that conversion rights are dependent upon at least one million shares of each series being outstanding after giving effect to holders’ instructions; e.g., if only 100,000 shares of SLF.PR.G are tendered for conversion, then no conversions will be allowed; but if only 100,000 shares of SLF.PR.G will remain after the rest are all tendered, then conversion will be mandatory. However, this is relatively rare: all 26 Strong Pairs currently extant have some version of this condition and all but two have both series outstanding.

4 Responses to “SLF.PR.G and TRP.PR.B: Convert or Hold?”

  1. brian says:

    Hi. SLF.PR.G could possibly be retracted at par in the future due to NVCC rules – would this also apply to the new FloatingReset? (and if it doesn’t apply would it be better to stay with the FixedReset issue just on this basis alone?). Thanks.

  2. jiHymas says:

    would this also apply to the new FloatingReset?

    Yes. The FloatingReset will not be NVCC-compliant.

  3. adrian2 says:

    I’ve picked up over 50 cents in switching from SLF.PR.G to SLF.PR.J today; time will tell whether I was early or not.

    Thanks again for the blog!

  4. jiHymas says:

    A take-out of 50 cents is a break-even bill yield of about 0.40%, which seems like a good deal to me!

    It is always tempting in investing to let the perfect become the enemy of the good.

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