Investors who have been buying up Venezuelan bonds in hopes of an opposition victory in this weekend’s presidential election will be heartened by the results of a poll from Consultores 21 which shows Henrique Capriles having the edge on incumbent Hugo Chavez. The survey shows the pro-market Capriles with 51.8 percent support among likely voters, an increase of 5.6 percentage points since a mid-September poll.
Venezuelan bonds have rallied hard ever since it became evident a few months back that Chavez, a socialist seeking a new six-year term, would face the toughest election battle of his 14-year rule. Year-to-date returns on Venezuelan debt are over 20 percent, or double the gains on the underlying bond index, JP Morgan’s EMBI Global. And the rally has taken yields on Venezuela’s most-traded 2027 dollar bond to around 10.5 percent, a drop of 250 basis points since the start of the year.
But Barclays analysts are advising clients to load up further by picking up long-tenor 2031 sovereign bonds or 2035 bonds issued by state oil firm PDVSA:
Our opinion has been that the market has been underestimating the chances of an opposition victory. We believe an opposition victory could be a positive surprise for the market that could push Venezuelan assets to levels not seen in the past five years.
What if Chavez wins after all? That would mean another six years of the Bolivarian Revolution and Chavismo (Chavez’s leftist social and political movements, the former named after the country’s 19th century liberation hero Simon Bolivar). But it would not be such a disaster. After all despite his fiery rhetoric, he has never shirked paying creditors, and with oil prices well above $100 a barrel he can well afford to do so. Moreover many reckon he will has been weakened by cancer and a recurrence of his illness will weaken his leadership.According to Greg Saichin, head of emerging debt at Pioneer Investments