07/26/2017

Moody’s Downgrades Kentucky Debt

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On July 20, 2017, Moody’s Investors Service (Moody’s) downgraded the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s issuer rating to Aa3 from Aa2. Simultaneously, other Kentucky government entities were also downgraded, including Kentucky’s general fund appropriation lease revenue bonds to A1 from Aa3, Kentucky’s agency fund appropriation lease-revenue bonds to A2 from A1, the Kentucky Public University Intercept Program to A1 from Aa3, the Kentucky School District Enhancement Program to A1 from Aa3, and the Kentucky Turnpike Authority to Aa3 from Aa2. Reasons cited for the downgrades were the large unfunded pension liability, high fixed government costs and revenue underperformance. Moody’s credit outlook for the state remains stable.

The downgrades have been expected for some time as Kentucky continues to battle one of the largest unfunded pension burdens in the U.S. The state experienced positive revenue growth of 5.3% in fiscal year 2015, but saw a decline of 3.7% in fiscal year 2016, followed by a decline of 1.3% in fiscal year 2017. Despite the credit rating downgrade, the Kentucky Turnpike Authority exceeded revenue projections for the recent fiscal year.

Kentucky’s economy is considered stable and employment continues to strengthen. If the expected manufacturing expansions by Amazon, Ford and Toyota come to fruition, we believe that the credit ratings may see a reversal over the next couple of years. Moody’s mentioned in their report that the State’s current administration has demonstrated a willingness to cut expenditures and balance the budget. As of June 30, Kentucky’s available liquid resources remained at $4 billion, a level that has been maintained over the past four years, and the general fund had a $239 million balance.

The portfolio managers and credit analysts of Aquila Churchill Tax-Free Fund of Kentucky will continue to monitor all credits in the portfolio. The only impact we see to the portfolio at this time is a downward shift in the quality breakdown directly related the downgrades. Kentucky debt pricing has stabilized in the secondary market due to the lack of new issuance, which was down 38% year-over-year at the end of the second quarter. For the most recent quarter-end performance, holdings and manager commentary please see the Fund page on this web site.


Before investing in a Fund, carefully read about and consider the investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other information found in the Fund prospectus. The prospectus is available on this site, from your financial adviser and when you call 800-437-1020.

04/19/2017

Aquila Tax-Free Trust of Oregon Annual Shareholder Meeting

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Shareholders of Aquila Tax-Free Trust of Oregon are cordially invited to attend their annual shareholder meeting Thursday, May 11, 2017 at 11:00 a.m. at the Oregon Convention Center, Meeting Rooms F150-151, 777 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Portland, Oregon. Light refreshments will be served prior to the meeting and parking will be validated at the end of the meeting.

Those unable to attend the Portland meeting may be interested in attending a special outreach informational meeting in Eugene at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 10, 2017. That meeting will take place at the Valley River Inn, North & Middle Columbia Ballrooms, 1000 Valley River Way, Eugene, Oregon. Light refreshments will also be served prior to the meeting.

Attendees to both meetings will have the opportunity to visit with Fund Executives, Trustees, the Portfolio Manager and hear renowned Oregon economist and Trustee, John Mitchell, speak about the Oregon and national economy. Mr. Mitchell is principal of M & H Economic Consultants of Portland. He is a past chairman of the Oregon Council of Economic Advisors, and former chief economist of U.S. Bancorp.

Please plan to attend one of these meetings. We look forward to seeing you in either Portland or Eugene.

04/19/2017

Aquila Churchill Tax-Free Fund of Kentucky Annual Shareholder Meeting

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Shareholders of Aquila Churchill Tax-Free Fund of Kentucky are cordially invited to attend their annual shareholder meeting Thursday, April 20, 2017 at 8:30 a.m. in the Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, Brown & Williamson Club, University of Louisville, 2800 South Floyd Street, Louisville, KY. A buffet breakfast will be served prior to the meeting.

Attendees will have the opportunity to visit with Fund Executives, Trustees, the Portfolio Manager, and hear Ryan Barrow, Executive Director of the Kentucky Finance and Administration Cabinet, which is part of the Office of Financial Management. The Office is responsible for the investment and debt management functions of the Commonwealth, including conducting the state’s bond sales, which provide financing for major projects such as those in which your fund invests. Mr. Barrow was named one of 40 rising stars by Bond Buyer last year.

Please plan to attend.  We look forward to seeing you on April 20.

01/03/2017

Aquila Group of Funds’ Municipal Bond Funds Recognized by U.S. News and World Report

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Aquila Group of Funds’ seven single state municipal bond funds were recently included in a US News and World Report Best Funds list for Municipal Single State Intermediate Funds.

For over 30 years, we have sought to provide municipal bond fund investors with double tax-exempt income and preservation of capital. We seek to manage interest rate and credit risk by consistently maintaining broadly-diversified, high-quality bond portfolios with an intermediate average maturity.

Our locally based portfolio managers and credit analysts have an up-close perspective on bond issuers and the economy in their states. We believe this gives them valuable insights about the economic and political climate of the state and the financing needs and the capabilities of individual issuers.

The U.S. News Mutual Fund scores assigned to the 65 funds included in the Municipal Single State Intermediate Category is produced using an equal weighting of the overall ratings provided by their data sources (Morningstar, S&P, Lipper Leaders, Zacks, and TheStreet.com ), and was published on 11/22/16. Individual fund rating systems are normalized to a 100-point scale based on point totals assigned to individual scoring systems. For example, each star from Morningstar would receive 20 points. The U.S. News score is calculated by dividing total points awarded according to their system by the five data sources. The Combined U.S. News Mutual Fund Score ranks funds numerically based on the score and funds with identical scores are awarded the same numerical ranking.

Before investing in a Fund, carefully read about and consider the investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other information found in the Fund prospectus. The prospectuses are available on this site, from your financial adviser and when you call 800-437-1020.

06/01/2016

Aquila Three Peaks High Income Fund Celebrates 10 Years

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Tenth anniversary symbol in gold isolated on white backgroundTen years ago, with the launch of Aquila Three Peaks High Income Fund, we introduced what we believe is a time-tested, distinctive high-yield investment strategy to the market.

The strategy focuses on finding high-yield corporate issuers with experienced management teams that are generating free cash flow and committed to improving the corporate balance sheet. We avoid highly-cyclical industries and invest most, if not all, of the Fund’s assets in high-yield, income producing, corporate debt securities, making Aquila Three Peaks High Income Fund a true high-yield portfolio.
The implementation of the strategy over the last 10 years has resulted in positive total returns for the Fund in each year other than 2008 (an extremely tough year for most asset classes in the wake of the financial crisis). The Fund has never experienced the default of a bond held in the portfolio.

The strategy’s success is rooted in intense, hands-on research by a team that is sticking to their recipe. The portfolio managers and analysts do their homework – they kick the proverbial tires with visits to the companies in which the Fund invests. They meet with management teams, employees, customers and even competitors. They also take a conservative approach by avoiding what they believe are overly-risky sectors and securities – this approach has served the Fund well in periods of volatility, but also means the fund may lag during particularly strong markets.

The Fund was recently recognized for its one-year performance in both the WSJ’s Category Kings and InvestmentNews’ Best-and-Worst Performing Fixed-Income Funds. Current quarter-end performance can be found on the Fund Fact Sheet.
Read more “Aquila Three Peaks High Income Fund Celebrates 10 Years”

04/20/2016

Aquila Three Peaks High Income Fund Recognized as a Category King

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Aquila Three Peaks High Income Fund was included in a Category Kings report by The Wall Street Journal for the one-year period ending March 31, 2016. The Category Kings report recognizes the top 10 performing funds, based on total return, in 16 Lipper categories for the one-year period. Aquila Three Peaks High Income Fund class Y (ATPYX) was listed at #6 in the Lipper High Yield Taxable category, out of 646 taxable high yield funds. During this period, the Fund generated a total return of 3.13%, compared to the Lipper High Yield Taxable category average of -4.03%, and the Barclays US Corporate High Yield Index Return of -3.69%.

We believe our relatively defensive positioning within the high yield market in recent years, with a focus on higher-quality names and lower-duration securities within those names, has been prudent, and as a result has produced relatively stable performance within the high yield asset class.

We remain focused on evaluating high yield issuers based on our fundamental research process in which we look for companies that are improving their balance sheets and growing their businesses in a disciplined manner. We believe our focus on providing a less volatile investment strategy within the high yield asset class is judicious given the potential for elevated volatility in this relatively low-yielding fixed-income environment.

Read more “Aquila Three Peaks High Income Fund Recognized as a Category King”

12/02/2015

Barron’s Profiles Co-Portfolio Manager Sandy Rufenacht

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Barron’s profiled the co-portfolio manager of Aquila Three Peaks Opportunity Growth Fund and Aquila Three Peaks High Income Fund, Sandy Rufenacht, in its November 16, 2015 issue in an article by Reshma Kapadia titled “Two for the Money.”

Sandy Rufenacht Co-Portfolio Manager

Sandy Rufenacht
Co-Portfolio Manager

The distinctive research and investment approach implemented in managing both funds is described as originating with intensive debt analysis while gathering detailed information about a company, often from unconventional sources. Other elements of the research and strategy include developing an understanding of free cash flow and debt covenants.

Spend some time reading the Barron’s article to gain a perspective on the strategies of the two funds, and see the Investment Process Summary for both funds.

For the most recent quarter-end performance, see the Aquila Three Peaks High Income Fund Fact Sheet and the Aquila Three Peaks Opportunity Growth Fund Fact Sheet.

Before investing in one of the Aquila Group of Funds, carefully read about and consider the investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other information found in the Fund prospectus. The prospectus is available on this site, from your financial advisor, or by calling 800-437-1020.

10/01/2015

MarketWatch Recognizes Aquila Three Peaks Opportunity Growth Fund

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In the September 29, 2015 edition of MarketWatch, Conrad De Aenlle’s Funds for Thought article reviews the Aquila Three Peaks Opportunity Growth Fund strategy relative to category peers, and describes Co-Portfolio Manager Sandy Rufenacht’s leverage of his experience and research in the high-yield bond market to find equity investment opportunities. Conrad notes that unlike some funds that performed well in the third quarter, but have been long-term underperformers, Aquila Three Peaks Opportunity Growth Fund performed well during recent market volatility relative to its Morningstar mid-cap growth peers, and has performed well within the category over the most recent five-year period.

Additional information on Aquila Three Peaks Opportunity Growth Fund and its distinctive strategy, including current performance, is available on this site.

Before investing in a Fund, carefully read about and consider the investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other information found in the Fund prospectus, which is available on this site, from your financial advisor, and when you call 800-437-1020.

09/18/2015

Enhanced Features on Shareholder Service Line

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In the near future, when you call our customer service line at 800-437-1000, our phone system will offer enhanced self-service features, utilizing the very latest technology and natural language understanding capabilities to provide a simple and user friendly call experience.

When you use our new telephone system for the first time, you may be required to establish new login credentials. If so, you will be prompted at login to establish a new personal identification number (PIN) and will need to have your Social Security number and your account number readily available.

However, new functionality does not mean you can’t talk to us directly. You always have the option to speak live to a representative. Our contact center staff is happy to help you with any of our products or services during regular business hours.

 

09/01/2015

Are Fears in the Municipal Bond Market Misplaced?

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Writing for On Wall Street in an article published 9/1/2015, Jeff Tjornehoj, who heads up Lipper’s research efforts in the U.S., Canada and Latin America, evaluates whether recent outflows from municipal bond funds might represent misplaced fears.  In support of his case, Mr. Tjornehoj points to three factors influencing the municipal market which may either be resolved in the near term, or be somewhat overstated in the headlines.  In regard to Puerto Rico, Jeff concludes that while headline risk isn’t going away, the commonwealth has more to lose in a default scenario than by working with creditors.  Supply in the municipal market has risen over the past year largely as the result of new issuance the form of refinancing at current rates, ahead of the much-anticipated Fed Funds rate increase.  In the current environment, yields on municipal bonds are very attractive relative to Treasuries, adding to the appeal of the asset class.  Finally, the US Treasury market has experienced increased volatility amid global economic concerns and the continuing ‘will they – won’t they’ debate over an increase in the Federal Funds rate.  Mr. Tjornehoj’s contention is that once the Fed makes their move on rates, a cloud of uncertainty will clear from the markets.  See the full article for Mr. Tjornehoj’s discussion of these topics. 

You will find information on the Aquila Group of Funds seven double tax-exempt municipal bond funds on this site.

Before investing in a Fund, carefully read about and consider the investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other information found in the Fund prospectus, which is available on this site, from your financial adviser, and when you call 800-437-1020.