Although Puerto Rico avoided catastrophe by meeting outstanding debt payments due Wednesday, "there's still a lot to come" that could disrupt the island and its creditors, including bond funds, one bond expert said Thursday.
The commonwealth met its obligations of nearly $2 billion due Wednesday, a temporary reprieve but only a small chunk of its roughly $72 billion in cumulative debt.
Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla has called for reforms and a debt moratorium as the island tries to meet its obligations. The temporary relief provides an opportunity for debt restructuring, said Alexandra Lebenthal, president and CEO of Lebenthal Holdings.
"When you do get to the bottom of the barrel and the money isn't there, you do get the realization that something needs to be done," she said in a CNBC "Power Lunch" interview.
Puerto Rico's debt situation has seen a "slow erosion over time," and the last week was particularly painful for creditors, including bond funds, Lebenthal said. She stressed that considerable uncertainty remains for bondholders as the situation progresses.
Lebenthal added that investors should assess how funds with high exposure to Puerto Rican bonds have performed. She noted that some OppenheimerFunds offerings with large Puerto Rico holdings have lagged behind the broader municipal bond market.