Yields maintain record highs and offer positive relative value

Private Credit Investment insights
Key takeaways
Bank loans

Current loan yields and spreads remain attractive with average loan coupons at close to record highs (~9.25%) and surpassing high yield bonds (~6.15%)1

Direct lending

Shifts in expectations to a slower Fed cutting cycle will likely strengthen the case for direct lending yields remaining in an historically attractive 11-12% context.

Distressed credit

Healthy companies challenged by higher rates are seeking capital solutions which present attractive investment opportunities particularly in the small company space. 

Slowing economic growth across regions at the beginning of 2024 have created a continued focus on sustained higher interest rates as the year progresses. Macroeconomic uncertainty and geopolitical events have driven capital across various segments characterizing positive and negative implications we continue to monitor.

Against this cautious outlook, we asked the experts from Invesco’s bank loan, direct lending and distressed credit teams to share their views as the second quarter of 2024 wraps up.

Bank loans: potential for high income and relative value

Kevin Egan, Senior Portfolio Manager, Senior Secured Bank Loan Group

As we continue in 2024, there has been a significant focus on the uncertainty of the US macroeconomic backdrop and its potential implications for the senior secured bank loan market. We continue to believe there are still several compelling reasons to consider investing in senior secured loans:

  1. Potential high level of current income: Current income is comprised of two key components—base interest rates (which are expected to stay higher for longer) and credit spreads (which continue to remain wide). Coupon income for bank loans today is ~9.25%, which is near its highest since 20091. Market expectations are for rates to remain higher for longer, well above pre-2022 levels. Loans have proven to provide consistent, stable income through varying market cycles, including recessionary periods and periods of falling rates.
  2. Floating rate feature: Loans have virtually no duration risk (average ~45 days). The forward SOFR curve currently implies an average 3-month SOFR rate of approximately 5% over the course of 2024. This reflects the broadly adopted market view that the US Federal Reserve (Fed) will pivot to easing interest rates late in 2024 and will lower interest rates cautiously. Recent economic data has been more supportive of a higher for longer interest rate environment, benefiting higher loan coupons.
  3. Compelling relative value: Loans have offered one of the best yields in fixed income, while providing downside risk mitigation by being senior in the capital structure and being secured by the assets of the company. Loans have offered these high yields with no duration risk. In a recessionary environment, loans offer downside risk mitigation by being senior which means they are the highest priority to be repaid in the event of default. Senior secured assets may offer added risk mitigation throughout recessionary periods.

We feel current loan yields and spreads look very attractive both on a historical and a relative basis. The average coupon for loans has been around 9.25%, outpacing the average high yield coupon of 6.15%1. After averaging around 245 bps less than high yield bonds over the past fifteen years, this is the first time in history the average loan coupon has surpassed that of high yield bonds. It was only around two years ago when loans were yielding ~4.80%; loans recently have been yielding over 400 basis points more than that1.

Direct lending: Attractive Yield and Deployment Opportunities to Continue

Ron Kantowitz, Head of Direct Lending

So far in 2024, inflation has appeared to break its downward trend, causing market participants to rethink their outlook for interest rates. Investors now expect a slower and shallower rate cutting cycle as potentially stickier inflation complicates the Federal Reserve’s path to exiting a higher rates regime.

For example, SOFR (the base interest rate for our loan coupons) is now projected to average ~5.20 for 2024 – in-line with 2023 and higher than the ~4.90% projected earlier in the year. While we may see spreads and OID compress to some extent, we still believe all-in, direct lending yields will remain in the 11-12% context on an unlevered basis. We believe these represent incredibly attractive levels from a risk/return perspective and are meaningfully higher than those leading up to the Fed’s tightening cycle.

Further, we believe the current backdrop is supportive of a favourable transaction environment given better visibility into the macro landscape, a more stable inflationary picture relative to prior years, and heightened pressure from LPs for private equity firms to generate realizations and invest in new platform companies. Combined with continued discipline in terms of credit quality as well as relatively stable and attractive yields, we continue to believe this is a compelling environment to deploy capital in the direct lending asset class.

Distressed credit: Capital solution investment opportunities may offer attractive returns with less risk

Paul Triggiani, Head of Distressed Credit and Special Situations

Nearly halfway through 2024, our small cap company distressed opportunity set is at an all-time high. Reflecting on the current global economic landscape, we must consider the past four years' events, marked by a low-interest-rate environment, the Covid-19 pandemic, significant inflationary trends, and a transition to a higher rate environment. Companies are now wrestling with heightened cost structures (in some cases up 20-30% over the last few years) including borrowing costs that have increased approximately 500 basis points, leading to margin compression. Further, as interest rates may remain higher-for-longer, we are seeing attractive distressed-for-control as well as special situations opportunities, and in particular, capital solutions.

Indeed, many fundamentally sound companies with capital structures unsuitable for today's rate environment are approaching us in seeking out such capital solutions. In these instances, we can invest throughout the capital structure helping companies reduce cash burdens; but also provides us significant governance mechanisms, and in many cases, material equity upside potential. Interestingly, these companies are typically without material operating issues, meaning they come with relatively healthy profiles.

When drilling down further, we believe there is a structural gap in the small cap company space where such transactions are less competitive. As a result, we believe we can select higher quality businesses in opportunities that offer attractive economics, governance and structural protections, and ultimately, better return potential with less risk – an investment paradigm that may persist over  the next 18-36 months.

Discover our capabilities

Invesco is one of the world’s largest and most experienced private credit managers, catering to a wide range of client objectives and risk tolerances.

We follow a consistent credit process centred on due diligence, conservative underwriting, and risk mitigation. The idea is to preserve capital while targeting attractive risk-adjusted returns.

Contact us to learn more about our capabilities in:

  • Broadly syndicated loans
  • Direct lending
  • Distressed credit and special situations
Our capabilities


Private credit is an asset class that can generally be defined as non-bank lending. In other words, it includes privately negotiated loans and debt financing. The private credit market typically serves borrowers that are too small to access public debt markets, or that have unique circumstances requiring a private lender.

Broadly syndicated loans are privately arranged debt instruments comprised of below investment grade borrowers. They are made to large cap companies and syndicated by intermediary commercial and investment banks. These loans are then distributed to multiple institutional investors.

CLOs, or collaterialised loan obligations, are securitised versions of broadly syndicated loans. CLOs create portfolios of hundreds of loans and structure them into different tranches with different risk/return profiles. This allows investors to choose their preferred balance of risk and return, which benefit from a collateralised structure.

Typically, CLO notes offer a premium to other securitised vehicles because of the complexity of understanding the underlying private loans and the uniqueness of each CLO structure. CLO notes are registered securities and trade and settle like bonds.

Direct lending means providing capital to companies or businesses without the benefit of an intermediary. In other words, you’re directly lending to a company.

Distressed credit involves investing in the senior debt of companies at significant discounts to par, usually due to perceived fundamental weakness.

Returns are generated by investing in companies where, over the longer-term and through various actions, meaningful upside potential can be unlocked.


  • Source: Credit Suisse as of 31 March 2024.

Investment risks

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Important information

  • Information is provided as at 30 May 2024, sourced from Invesco unless otherwise stated.

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