Howard Marks On What Investors Should Worry About

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period and every fund has a positive return. We’re very proud of the consistency of that record not at Oaktree Capital Group LLC (NYSE:OAK), not just the level of the returns, but the consistency with which they have been achieved. All 48 of our funds as I say have positive returns, the ones that were formed before last year where it’s really too soon to have meaningful results. All 19 of our distressed debt funds which were one of our flagship strategies have double digit gross returns ranging from just about 10 to 57, I think.

84% of our capital in closed-end funds has an IRR which is over the 8% hurdle required to get a carry and as I recall from high school 84 is a good mark at that time, all I was hoping for. And well, at the same time, we’ve distributed $40 billion to our clients in the last five years and have grown our AUM by 50%.

So I think we’ve proceeded cautiously and conservatively and got a lot done. I think that it’s very important that you understand from me my definition of our goal as a business is to deliver client satisfaction. And client satisfaction is not just high returns, it’s something more, it’s dependability. And Keefe, Bruyette puts out an annual survey of where would you like to put money and we’ve been number one among the alternative firms for the last few years. And I think it’s not just other people promise higher returns and even from time to time get them, but it’s the dependability and the fact that people know they can count on us.

So if you look, for example, I think we have delivered client satisfaction. In our open-end strategy, that’s U.S. high yield, European high yield, U.S. converts, international converts, busted converts, senior loans, we have about 129 full calendar years of history. So, that’s it – now we are getting up to statistical significance. Now it’s a real test. In 118 of those years, we had returns that I would call good returns.

Howard Marks: Good year for company

What’s a good return? Good year is a year in which we either have a high absolute return or beat the index or both. Why do I establish that as my criterion, because number one, the client will be happy and number two, you won’t get fired because there will always be somebody who did worse. There’ll always be somebody who either didn’t – who didn’t make a good return and didn’t beat the market. So, a good year is one in which we make a good return or beat the market or both. And 91% of our years have been good years by that standard. Taken the extreme example, we – our longest running strategy is U.S. high yield bonds. I started that at Citibank in 1978. In 1986, when we joined TCW, we had to restart our record, because you couldn’t just walk across the street and show them your returns. You had to be able to document them, which could do. So we have a 27-year record in high yield bonds. We’ve never had a bad year by that standard. And this is what clients want; they want stability, consistency, dependability, and they want to be able to sleep at night.

We also deliver a high level of service and reporting. We’ve had a very, very low incidence of portfolio manage turnover, and in the vast majority of the strategies that I named to you, every single person who has ever managed those portfolios is still at Oaktree Capital Group LLC (NYSE:OAK) today. And this is a record going back 35 years and very few organizations can say that, and of course, I think we have a very strong reputation for integrity and putting the client first.

These strong investment returns had driven fundraising success. Since January of 1, 2007, the period covering the crises and recovery, we’ve raised more than $81 billion of gross capital. We’ve raised almost $10 billion or more every year for the last six years, not including 2013, and we think we’re on pace to do so again this year. And this year, for the first time, we’re doing it without a distressed debt fund, an Opportunities Fund. Every year, prior to that in this record, we had an opps fund, that we were raising, and our opps fund stays great demand, and enable us to reach that standard.

But this year for the first time, we are not raising an opps fund. We haven’t invested last year’s fund yet, and yet, we think we’re on track to raise $10 billion again. 78% of our assets come from clients, who are in multiple strategies. So what happen as they go into one, they have a good experience in terms of dependability, consistently see a return and then they tend to go into more.

39% of our assets come from clients who are in four or more strategies. And our clients are in wonderful stripe of the investment population. We have 100 of the 300 largest global pension fund, 75 of the 100 largest U.S. global – U.S. pension funds, 38 of the states, 300 universities, colleges, endowments, foundations and 10 sovereign wealth fund. And we continue to innovate and develop step-out strategies to capitalize our new opportunities. You know, if you went back that magical five years that I keep talking about, high yield bonds paid 10% and in this stress, we are looking for 20% or more. And that was – everybody was satisfied with that menu. Today, high yield pays about 6%, in this stress we are looking for 15% or more and the clients want to be able to access something that will pay them 9%, 10% or 11%. And so we’ve put a lot of energy in the last year and a half into developing and delivering that for them and we’ve raised $4.3 billion in strategies that did not exist at the time of our April 2012 IPO.

So, the enhanced income fund, which uses moderate leverage on senior loans, we’re using leverage because now instead of six years ago, now you can get leverage were you can’t get a margin call because prices fall. We saw firsthand, the corners that can occur when you can get a margin call on price declines, this leverage does not permit that. Strategic credit is an offshoot from the distressed debt funds. It’s the things that are too risky for the high yield portfolio, but don’t satisfy the return criteria and of the distressed debt portfolios. So, where we think we can get 9%, 10%, 11%, 12% and we are raising money for that in nine-digit separate accounts, and we’ve raised several in the last year. Real estate debt, another area where we think we can get high-single, low-double digits and the non-A buildings in the non-prime cities, we think are a great place to earn very good returns in real estate debt.

Emerging market opportunities, we’ve started a new group to invest in distressed and distressed corporate debt in the emerging markets, and we did it because we attracted a great, great individual to lead that. Emerging market equity long-only, we’ve been managing a long, short fund for the last 15 years, but two years ago we went into long-only, and we’re compounding a good record there.

And then finally European dislocated debt, basically the direct lending opportunities that the European banks will not take fully. So, that’s what we’re doing at the present time. That’s – I’ve told you why I think positioning ourselves in these kind of tweener strategies is the place to be today as long as we execute with caution. Skip, is there any time for questions? A couple of questions. Yes, sir.

Q&A with Howard Marks

<Q>: [Question Inaudible]

<A – Howard S. Marks>: Thank you. Thank you.

<Q>: If you went back to 19 – I’m sorry, if you went back to the …

<A – Howard S. Marks>: Say the part about the excellent presentation.

<Q>: Quasi-excellent. Congratulations.

<A – Howard S. Marks>: Thank you.

<Q>: I hope to copy you and do better.

<A – Howard S. Marks>: Thank you.

<Q>: If one went back to 1970s when there was period of significant easy money, and we had a significant commodity and expansion in oil, food, obviously the support, the shocks of Vietnam, the OPEC formation and so forth. In this period of time – in this period of time where we’re having easy money and it’s all going into the capital markets for as you articulate well. Could this end in the same bad way that it ended in the 1970s when Volcker came in after Arthur Burns, Volcker basically decided that we had an unhealthy economy despite the fact that we had the markets rising and essentially squish the whole system down, could you have a change in fed policy where you have the same ending where even though all of us in this room want to believe stocks are attractive, we could have a different, obviously, something that’s easy money has taken away and, obviously, the economy, which is not necessarily very healthy, we have some of that recurrence of what happened in the late 1970s.

<A – Howard S. Marks>: Well, I just want to add two things to your question, which you omitted. Number one, you didn’t use the world inflation and inflation was the semi [ph] characteristic of that period. I have a note on the wall that I got from the bank. I had a loan outstanding at three quarters over something called prime, you may

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