While debt can be a dangerous thing, Fidelity’s Thomas Soviero — who recently supplanted Ken Heebner as the top-performing fund manager of the past decade — says it can also lead to opportunity.
“Debt doesn’t have to be a four-letter word,” Soviero, whose Fidelity Advisor Leveraged Company Stock Fund averaged annual returns of 15% for the decade ending Mar. 31, tells Investment News. “When it works in your favor, good things can happen.”
Soviero buys stock in junk-rated companies that can generate enough revenue to pay down debt or make smart acquisitions, Investment News reports, adding that he favors industries whose economics are improving. These stocks fare best when interest rates are low and companies can easily obtain credit; as they pay down debt and refinance, their cash flows grow and they attract equity investors, Investment News says. “This can be a hard sales pitch,” Soviero said. “People look at the balance sheets and want to toss these companies in the trash.” But, he adds, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” The article also breaks down Soviero’s long-term track record, and looks at how one of his winning picks — Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold — used debt issuance to its advantage.