Market Commentary Q1 2024

May 13, 2024 Market Commentary


Ellington Income Opportunities (EIO) achieved a net performance of +4.26% in the first quarter1. Risk assets steadily marched tighter over the last few months, continuing a trend from October when short-term interest rate expectations hit their peak. The rally in risk assets has been broad-based, with notable appetite for credit exposure across asset classes as managers fight to deploy capital. Structured credit markets followed the trend, with most asset classes moving tighter on limited supply and continued fundamental strength. In the first quarter legacy Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities (RMBS) assets tightened 5 Basis Points (bps), Non-Qualified Mortgage Loans (non-QM) AAAs 20 bps, Single Family Rental (SFR) AAAs 45 bps, and US Collateralized Loan Obligations (CLO) AAAs 20 bps.

Market Environment

Within the Fund’s residential mortgage holdings, Credit Risk Transfer (CRT) securities continued to drive returns. Resilience in the U.S. housing market combined with the fund’s positioning in seasoned collateral boosted returns as managers sought to add these lower risk profiles. Additionally, Freddie Mac came to market with a tender offer in March, repurchasing approximately $930 million of seasoned CRT securities from bondholders at a premium to recent market levels. A reduction in overall supply, particularly in seasoned vintages, has been a positive driving force for CRT outperformance.

Within EIO’s corporate holdings, the fund’s CLOs contributed positively to returns as the asset class benefited from intense demand for floating rate leveraged loans. Leveraged loan funds saw seven consecutive weeks of inflows to end the quarter. Demand for loans has induced high prepayment speeds with over $86 billion in loan refinancing volume this year, causing many CLO structures to rapidly de-lever. While CLO performance was generally positive, there were pockets of distress during the quarter. Altice, a telecommunications conglomerate with over $9 billion of first lien loans held by U.S. CLOs, announced that it would seek debt haircuts to reduce the company’s leverage. This event triggered an issuer ratings downgrade and a short-term selloff in loan prices. We will continue to look at such events as an opportunity to add defensive positions at wider-than-usual spreads.

The Fund’s asset-backed securities, mainly aircraft-backed securities, helped drive performance. Aircraft supply technicals are very supportive as the universe of Aircraft Asset-Backed Securities (ABS) is decreasing due to paydowns, depreciation and asset sales. Aircraft ABS collateral stands at around $20 billion, down nearly a third vs early 2022. Fundamentals also remain strong, with passenger traffic surpassing 2019 levels. Furthermore, continual supply chain and manufacturing issues have stalled increases in new plane production, which has been very supportive of asset pricing for the older planes in ABS deals.

Fund Outlook

Structured credit markets are poised for resilience in the near term after dealers sold a substantial amount to reposition heading into quarter end. This supply was well-absorbed by markets with little to no spread widening. In non-agency RMBS, dealers trimmed approximately $600 million of exposure in the last two weeks of March, bringing net non-agency positioning to the lowest level in over a year. Lower dealer inventories could help sustain the rally we have seen thus far this year. Additionally, should we see a selloff in risk, it is likely that dealers will use the move to add back exposure, buffering potential spread widening.


Important Notes

These materials have been provided for information purposes and reference only and are not intended to be, and must not be, taken as the basis for an investment decision. The contents hereof should not be construed as investment, legal, tax or other advice and you should consult your own advisers as to legal, business, tax and other matters related to the investments and business described herein.

Fund Risks

Investing involves risk including the possible loss of principal including the following:

• Shares of the Fund will not be listed on any securities exchange, which makes them inherently illiquid.

• There is no secondary market for the Fund’s shares, and it is not anticipated that a secondary market will develop.

• The shares of the Fund are not redeemable.

• Although the Fund currently intends to offer a quarterly repurchase offer, the Fund is not required to repurchase shares at a shareholder’s option nor will shares be exchangeable for units, interests or shares of any security.

• Regardless of how the Fund performs, an investor may not be able to sell or otherwise liquidate their shares whenever such investor would prefer at the time or amount desired.

An investment in the Fund’s shares is not suitable for investors who cannot tolerate the risk of complete loss or who require liquidity.

The Fund’s investment in ABS (Asset-Backed Securities, RMBS (Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities) and CMBS (Commercial Mortgage-Backed Securities) subjects it to credit risk because underlying loan borrowers may default. Additionally, these securities are subject to prepayment risk because the underlying loans held by the issuers may be paid off prior to maturity. The value of these securities may go down due to changes in prepayment rates on the underlying mortgages or loans. During periods of declining interest rates, prepayment rates usually increase and the Fund may have to reinvest prepayment proceeds at a lower interest rate.

There is a risk that issuers and counterparties will not make payments on securities and other investments held by the Fund, resulting in losses to the Fund. In addition, the credit quality of securities held by the Fund may be lowered if an issuer’s financial condition changes. Lower-quality fixed income securities, known as “high yield” or “junk” bonds, present greater risk than bonds of higher quality, including an increased risk of default. An economic downturn or period of rising interest rates could adversely affect the market for these bonds and reduce the Fund’s ability to sell its bonds and decrease the Fund’s share price. Repayment of defaulted securities and obligations of distressed issuers is subject to significant uncertainties. Investments in defaulted securities and obligations of distressed issuers are considered speculative as are junk bonds in general.

The value of securities of smaller issuers can be more volatile than those of larger issuers. The value of certain types of securities can be more volatile due to increased sensitivity to adverse issuer, political, regulatory, market, or economic developments.

The Fund may enter into swaps and other derivative instruments which could amplify volatility. The Fund may engage in short selling for hedging and speculative purposes. A short sale may create the risk of an unlimited loss, in that the price of the underlying security

might theoretically increase without limit, thus increasing the cost of purchasing the security in order to close out the securities borrowing.

The use of leverage, such as borrowing money to purchase investments, could cause the Fund to incur additional expenses and magnify gains or losses.

A basis point (bps) is a standard unit of measurement where one basis point corresponds to a hundredth of a percentage point, equivalent to 0.01%.

Investors should carefully consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses of the Ellington Income Opportunities Fund. This and other important information about the Fund are contained in the Prospectus, which can be obtained by contacting your financial advisor, or by calling 1-855-862-6092. The Prospectus should be read carefully before investing.

The Ellington Income Opportunities Fund is distributed by Foreside Fund Services, LLC, not an adviser affiliate.