NEW YORK (Reuters) - Dan Fuss, vice chairman and senior portfolio manager at Loomis Sayles, said he purchased some below investment-grade credits during last week's sell-off at "reasonably priced levels," bringing his portfolio cash levels down to 22 percent from 26 percent.
"We bought some at reasonably priced levels but not fantastically cheap," said Fuss, who helps oversee more than $223 billion at the Boston-based firm. High-yield corporate bond spreads widened out to 5.08 percentage points over comparable U.S. Treasuries last week, up from a modest 3.35 percentage points as recently as June. It was the highest credit-risk spread on the securities in more than a year, according to Bank of the West. In April, Fuss called junk bonds and corporate debt securities "high-priced."
Fuss said the 22 percent of cash and cash equivalent include government bonds with maturities at or less than 22 months. Asked if he regrets not loading up on longer-term maturing U.S. Treasuries, Fuss said: "Yes, I've been surprised by the intensity of the bond rally."
Fuss, known as the Warren Buffett of bonds, said he was also surprised by the recent departure of Bill Gross from Pimco.
Gross, who managed the Pimco Total Return Fund and co-founded the firm over 40 years ago, resigned on Sept. 26 to join rival Janus Capital Group. Investors pulled a massive $25.5 billion from Pacific Investment Management Co's U.S. open-end funds in September, according to Morningstar data.
"Pimco is a strong operation," Fuss said. "They are going to do well."
Fuss said he has not spoken to Gross since his departure. "I think Bill will have a good time at Janus. I think it's neat that he will run an unconstrained fund." Unconstrained portfolios have become popular during this time of low interest rates, since they have the flexibility to invest in all types of bond securities globally and often invest in credit rather than interest rate-sensitive assets.
Reporting By Jennifer Ablan; Editing by David Gregorio