High-yield bond market not at risk: Pimco CIO

Overweight housing themes: Pro
Overweight housing themes: Pro   

Despite Carl Icahn's warning that high-yield bonds are "extremely overheated," the high-yield market is not at risk, Pimco's Mark Kiesel said Wednesday.

"The reality is this economic expansion will likely continue for several more years, so with that as a backdrop we don't see fundamentally the high-yield market at risk right now," he said in an interview with CNBC's "Power Lunch."

Earlier in the day, Icahn told CNBC that he felt it was his duty to warn investors of trouble brewing in the market.

"I think the public is walking into a trap again as they did in 2007," the activist investor told CNBC's "Fast Money Halftime Report."

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While Kiesel, who is Pimco's chief investment officer for global credit, doesn't foresee a crisis anytime soon, he said the firm is being very conservative and avoiding lower-quality, high-yield bonds.

"Within the high-yield markets, we are favoring those rising stars, those companies who are fundamentally improving," he said. "So yes, you want to be conservative in the credit markets today but there is significant ways to add value through active management."

Housing remains a 'bright spot'

One of the investments Pimco is favoring is nonagency-backed mortgages, Kiesel said. The firm has been overweight housing and the consumer for the past few years.

While home sales are booming, he believes housing will continue to be a "bright spot," with housing starts rising 10 percent over the next three years.

"We see the labor market continuing to improve. We've added three million private sector jobs," said Kiesel, who has won 12 Lipper Awards for investment performance and was named Morningstar fixed-income manager of the year in 2012. He currently oversees more than $340 billion in assets.

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Kiesel said it is the first-time homebuyer who's driving demand.

"Basically, 845,000 jobs have been created in that first-time buyer cohort over the last year. That's the strongest in 15 years," he said. "First-time buyers are back."

In addition to nonagency-backed mortgages, Pimco is overweight homebuilders, building materials companies, title insurance companies and lumber companies.

Specifically, he likes USG, Masco, and First American Financial.

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He also favors industries such as lodging, gaming, theme parks, midstream energy and airlines. His picks on those categories include Hilton Worldwide, MGM Resorts International, Disney, Cedar Fair, Cheniere Energy, American Airlines and United Continental.

CNBC's Stefanie Kratter and Reem Nasr contributed to this report.

Disclaimer

Disclosure: Kiesel owns USG, MAS, MGM, DIS, FUN, LNG, AAL, UAL. Pimco owns USG stock and bonds in some of its funds, Pimco owns MAS bonds in some of its funds, Pimco owns FAF stock and bonds in some of its funds, Pimco owns HLT stock and bonds and bank loan in some of its funds, Pimco owns MGM stock and bonds and bank loan in some of its funds, Pimco owns DIS and FUN stocks in some of its funds, Pimco owns LNG stock and bonds in some of its funds, Pimco owns AAL & UAL stocks and bonds in some of its funds.