Moody's downgraded the ratings of Peabody Energy Corporation (NYSE: BTU), including its Corporate Family Rating (CFR) to Ba3 from Ba2; Probability of Default Rating (PDR) to Ba3-PD from Ba2-PD; senior secured ratings to Ba2 from Ba1, senior unsecured rating to Ba3 from Ba2, and the junior subordinate debt rating to B2 from B1. Speculative Grade Liquidity (SGL) rating is affirmed at SGL-2. The outlook is negative.
..Issuer: Peabody Energy Corporation
.... Probability of Default Rating, Downgraded to Ba3-PD from Ba2-PD
.... Corporate Family Rating, Downgraded to Ba3 from Ba2
....Junior Subordinated Conv./Exch. Bond/Debenture Dec 15, 2066, Downgraded to B2 (LGD6) from B1(LGD6)
....Senior Secured Bank Credit Facility, Downgraded to Ba2 (LGD3) from Ba1(LGD2)
....Senior Unsecured Regular Bond/Debenture, Downgraded to Ba3(LGD4) from Ba2(LGD4)
....Outlook, Changed To Negative From Stable
.... Speculative Grade Liquidity Rating, Affirmed SGL-2
The downgrade reflects the prolonged weak industry conditions for seaborne metallurgical and thermal coal, with little improvement expected over the next 12-18 months, which will especially challenge the company's Australian division. We also expect average realizations in the US to decline in 2014 relative to year prior. Although we expect the company's Western US operations to show improved realizations in 2015, we believe Midwest pricing will remain under pressure as the company's higher priced long-term commitments continue to roll-off.
Although we expect the company to undertake cost containment efforts and non-core asset sales to mitigate the impact on leverage and cash flows, credit metrics will continue to deteriorate and remain weak over the next eighteen months. We expect Debt/ EBITDA, as adjusted by Moody's, of roughly 8x in 2014, with no material recovery expected in 2015. Absent meaningful metallurgical coal market recovery, we anticipate negative free cash flows of $350 - $400 million per year, excluding any proceeds from asset sales. We believe that met coal prices will need to recover to the range of $150 - $160 per tonne for Peabody to return to neutral or positive cash flows.
The stress to Peabody's metrics is predominantly rooted in the company's Australian platform, which does not utilize long term commitments for most of its production (with most metallurgical coal sales made on spot basis or under quarterly contracts), and has suffered the impact of the low pricing environment in the seaborne metallurgical and thermal markets. While generating almost 40% of the company's revenues, the Australian division generated negligible EBITDA in the first two quarters of 2014.
Meanwhile, the third quarter benchmark price for high quality coking coal settled at a level identical to the second quarter, $120 per metric tonne. Already at a six year low (and steeply below the $160 average price in 2013 and the $145 benchmark for the first quarter), metallurgical coal prices look set for a prolonged pricing trough. While we expect that production cuts should bring prices closer to $140 per tonne by the end of 2015, we don't anticipate sustained or substantial recovery beyond these levels for the next few years, due to additional supplies coming online globally. We also expect take-or-pay transportation contracts in Australia will continue to delay production cuts, which will contribute to the softness in prices. Peabody in particular has substantial take-or-pay rail and port arrangements, predominately in Australia, totaling $3.7 billion, with terms ranging up to 26 years and near-term annual commitments of $350 -- 400 million.
The Ba3 corporate family rating reflects Peabody's significant size and scale, broadly diversified reserves and production base, efficient surface mining operations, and a solid portfolio of long-term coal supply agreements with electric utilities. The rating also reflects its competitive cost structure compared to other US-based producers and organic growth opportunities. Challenges for the rating include regulatory and other pressures facing the US coal industry, volatility of the company's Australian operations due to its exposure to metallurgical coal, foreign currency fluctuations, and operational risks inherent in the coal industry.
The company's Speculative Grade Liquidity Rating of SGL-2 reflects Peabody's cash on hand and substantial revolver capacity. At June 30, 2014, Peabody had almost $500 million in cash and cash equivalents, and almost full availability of its $1.65 billion revolving credit facility, which matures in 2018. Peabody's next significant maturity will be $650 million in senior notes coming due in 2016. We expect Peabody to be in compliance with the covenants under its secured credit facility. Peabody has several alternatives for arranging back-door liquidity if necessary. Peabody's large number of mines and its operational diversity across the PRB and Illinois Basin give it the flexibility to sell non-core assets if necessary.
The negative outlook reflects our expectation that any material recovery in metallurgical coal markets is at least eighteen months away, with Peabody's as-adjusted Debt/ EBITDA approaching 8x. While we anticipate that management will continue cost containment efforts and initiate asset sales to mitigate the impact on cash flows, the negative outlook reflects our expectation that the company is likely to burn cash over the next eighteen months.
Although an upgrade is unlikely in the near term, the outlook could be stabilized if the company was expected to remain cash flow neutral and Debt/ EBITDA, as adjusted, was expected to trend towards 4x.
A downgrade would be considered if Peabody's liquidity position deteriorated, free cash flows were persistently negative, debt capitalization ratio was expected to persistently track above 65%, and/or Debt/ EBITDA, as adjusted, was not expected to track towards 5x over the next two to three years.
The principal methodology used in this rating was the Global Mining Industry published in May 2009. Other methodologies used include Loss Given Default for Speculative-Grade Non-Financial Companies in the U.S., Canada and EMEA published in June 2009. Please see the Credit Policy page on www.moodys.com for a copy of these methodologies.
Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said it affirmed its 'BB-' long-term issuer credit rating and its 'B' short-term issuer credit rating on CIT Group (NYSE: CIT). We also affirmed our 'BB-' ratings on CIT's senior unsecured debt. The outlook is positive.
In our view, CIT's planned acquisition of IMB Holdco LLC, the parent of Pasadena, CA-based OneWest Bank N.A., will likely notably improve CIT's credit profile--even though it will weaken the company's robust capital and will come with integration and strategic risks and uncertainties. As a result, we are affirming our ratings on the company and its debt and maintaining our positive outlook.
"We will further assess the acquisition's impact on CIT's franchise stability, funding strength, and asset quality, among other factors, over the coming months," said Standard & Poor's credit analyst Brendan Browne. "We will also analyze management's strategies for aspects such as business mix, loan growth, and risk and capital management."
The acquisition is scheduled to close sometime in the first half of 2015, pending regulatory approvals.
We believe that CIT's acquisition of the $23 billion-asset OneWest would create a sizeable financial institution with nearly $70 billion in assets. Importantly, the acquisition would provide CIT with a retail branch franchise that should help enhance its funding diversity and stability. Mainly through its 73 branches in California, OneWest had $15 billion in deposits as of June 30, 2014. Pro forma for the transaction, CIT's deposits would represent 57% of its funding, up from 44% currently, and would likely rise further. Although OneWest's deposits costs are somewhat higher than peers, they are meaningfully lower than CIT's funding costs. We also expect OneWest's growing commercial banking franchise to add some diversification to CIT's midmarket lending strategy.
"Our positive outlook on our rating on CIT reflects the ongoing improvements to the company's funding, earnings, and risk management," said Mr. Browne. Over the next year, we expect the company--even beyond the OneWest transaction--to continue to grow the deposits and assets of CIT Bank, reduce expenses, and maintain its currently low level of nonperforming assets.
We could raise our rating on the company if it continues to improve its own franchise, and if we believe it will successfully acquire and integrate OneWest. CIT has taken steps to grow earnings by reducing funding costs and operating expenses and through organic asset growth. We would look favorably on higher earnings--particularly if they did not result from any reduction in credit standards. Any upgrade will also be contingent on a more full assessment of OneWest's strengths and weaknesses.
While less likely, we could lower the rating if, after a more substantial assessment of OneWest, we believe the acquisition will result in a significantly more aggressive and risky financial profile--one with weaker capital and liquidity and higher credit risk.
Fitch Ratings affirms the long-term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) for eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY) at 'A' and rates the company's senior note offering at 'A'. The ratings affect approximately $5.3 billion of total debt, excluding the senior notes offering. The Rating Outlook is Stable. A full list of ratings is provided at the end of this release.
Fitch expects eBay will use net proceeds for general corporate purposes, including repayment of $1.2 billion of commercial paper borrowings used to partially fund share repurchases in the second quarter. Remaining net proceeds could be used for share repurchases, including $2.2 billion remaining under current share repurchase authorizations.
Fitch estimates total debt to operating EBITDA (total leverage) was 1 times (x) for the latest 12 months (LTM) ended June 30, 2014 and will remain below 1.5x over the long term. Total leverage could remain closer to 1.5x, driven by the potential incremental borrowings to fund ongoing share repurchases, given that free cash flow (FCF) is generated primarily overseas.
The ratings reflect eBay's gradual recovery from the cyber-attack during the second quarter that resulted in management reducing revenue guidance for 2014. eBay expects incentives and targeted marketing to accelerate Marketplace revenue growth in the second half of the year, which will augment solid top line growth at PayPal and a stabilized Enterprise business.
Direct costs associated with the cyber-attack, including investigation, remediation and incremental customer support and marketing expenses, totaled $46 million in the second quarter. Fitch expects eBay's cyber-security related expenses will increase going forward, but will not materially affect profitability. Unfavorable outcomes from regulatory investigations could be significant, but Fitch believes this is as a low probability event since no financial data was compromised.
Fitch expects $3 billion to $5 billion of annual free cash flow (FCF) through the intermediate term, driven by solid overall operating performance. Fitch believes the vast majority of FCF is generated overseas but that eBay will primarily use foreign cash to fund credit expansion, alleviating pressures on funding domestic cash uses, including share repurchases and acquisitions.
In addition, eBay's potential cash repatriation of $9 billion of foreign earnings no longer considered permanently reinvested could support domestic cash uses. The company accrued $3 billion for cash taxes in the second quarter that would be payable upon repatriation, resulting in $6 billion of incremental readily available domestic cash.
KEY RATING DRIVERS
--Strong position and significant growth in on-line payments, particularly in mobile and off-line markets.
--Leading e-commerce platform.
--Significant and consistent FCF generation.
--Relatively conservative balance sheet management.
--Potential split of company.
--Ongoing pressure for share repurchases in lieu of splitting PayPal and Marketplaces.
--Risk of eBay taking a more aggressive approach to acquisitions going forward.
--New technologies in the payments space are a potential long-term threat to PayPal. However, Fitch does not expect any material change in the competitive dynamics over the next few years.
Negative rating actions could occur from:
--Plans to separate PayPal from eBay Marketplaces, with expectations for materially greater leverage at the remaining Marketplaces business.
--Normalized FCF to total adjusted debt falls close to the 20% level.
Fitch believes positive rating actions are unlikely given continued activist involvement that could ultimately result in a spinoff of the PayPal business longer term.
Fitch believes sufficient financial and operational synergies existing between PayPal and Marketplaces in the intermediate term. However, these are likely to diminish longer term given continued significant growth in PayPal outside of the Marketplaces platform.
eBay's liquidity as of June 30, 2014, excluding the senior notes issuance, was strong and supported by approximately $3.8 billion of cash and equivalents and $3.5 billion of short-term investments. Additionally, the company has $6.2 billion of long-term investments.
Fitch believes offshore cash will continue to build since a higher proportion of the company's cash flow is generated outside the U.S. due to stronger growth in international markets. eBay has a structure in place to utilize some of its offshore cash to fund the majority of its Bill Me Later receivables.
Liquidity is further supported by $1.8 billion of availability, net of $1.2 billion of outstanding commercial paper, under a $3 billion revolving credit facility maturing on November 2016. The RCF fully backstops the company's $2 billion CP program. Fitch's expectation for $3 billion to $5 billion of annual FCF also supports liquidity.
Total debt as of June 30, 2014 was $5.3 billion and included;
--$1.2 billion of CP borrowings;
--$600 million 1.625% notes due October 2015;
--$250 million of 0.7% notes due July 2015;
--$1 billion of 1.35% notes due July 2017;
--$500 million 3.25% notes due October 2020;
--$1 billion of 2.6% notes due July 2022; and
--$750 million of 4.0% notes due July 2042.
Fitch has affirmed eBay's ratings as follows:
--Long-term IDR at 'A';
--Senior unsecured notes at 'A';
--Short-term IDR at 'F1';
--$2 billion commercial paper program at 'F1'.
Fitch also has assigned the following ratings:
--Senior unsecured notes offering at 'A';
--Senior unsecured revolving credit facility at 'A'.
Standard & Poor's Ratings Services (NYSE: HCA) revised its rating outlook on for-profit hospital operator HCA Inc. to positive from stable. At the same time, we affirmed the 'B+' corporate credit rating and all debt ratings. This action reflects the company's strengthening financial profile, which provides greater capacity for debt-financed acquisitions while maintaining debt leverage in the 4.5x to 5x range. While HCA has expanded debt capacity, the company faces considerable challenges over the next 12 to 18 months as health care reform continues to pressure the hospital industry. We believe the pace of organic growth is slowing, which could temper EBITDA improvement prospectively. Additionally, management has indicated an increased appetite for acquisitions. We could consider an upgrade once we develop deeper confidence that HCA will maintain its current debt leverage profile (4.5x to 5x debt/EBITDA) as it pursues acquisitions and weathers continued health care reform.
"HCA faces competitive threats and reimbursement/pricing pressures that are offset by its large, relatively diversified portfolio of hospitals, which help it to manage uncertain reimbursement and spread local market risk over many markets," said credit analyst Cheryl Richer. "HCA is the largest publicly traded for-profit hospital operator in the U.S. with a presence in 20 states, 42 markets, and minimal presence (six hospitals) in England. As of March 31, 2014, it operated 165 hospitals. HCA's hospitals are commonly located in midsize to larger markets and often have a strong market position."
The positive outlook reflects the potential for an upgrade within one year if HCA can maintain its current debt leverage profile as it pursues acquisitions and weathers challenges from health care reform.
We could upgrade HCA within one year if we gain greater confidence that our base-case scenario will be realized, and that acquisitions are financed with a balance of internally generated cash and debt issuances. Our base-case forecast assumes the company could incur about $1.5 billion of incremental debt annually, given flat margins and about 3.5% total revenue growth and maintain debt leverage below 5x.
We could revise the outlook to stable if the scale of acquisitions is more significant than anticipated and/or operating performance is weaker than anticipated such that we believe debt leverage will remain above 5x. For example, a $2 billion incremental increase in debt to our base-case assumptions for 2015, without consideration of additional EBITDA or material acquisition-related expenses, would increase debt leverage to this point. Alternatively, stagnant revenues and a 150-basis-point contraction in gross margin could cause us to change our outlook to stable.
Moody's Investors Service has assigned a (P)Baa2 (senior debt) shelf rating to Protective Life Corporation's (NYSE: PL)(senior debt at Baa2/ratings on review for upgrade) new shelf registration, which was filed on July 8, 2014. All the shelf ratings are on review for upgrade. The new shelf registration replaces one that expired on June 28, 2014. The company did not indicate there are any near-term plans to issue securities off the shelf.
The multi-security shelf registration allows Protective to issue senior unsecured debt, subordinated debt, and preferred stock. The shelf registration also allows for the issuance of preferred securities by PLC Capital Trusts VI, VII, and VIII, which are statutory business trusts established by the company solely for the purpose of raising financing for Protective. Preferred securities issued by the PLC Capital Trusts will be irrevocably and unconditionally guaranteed by Protective and will rank pari passu with the company's subordinated debt.
Moody's noted that Protective's ratings reflect the group's diverse revenue and earnings sources, a high proportion of earnings deriving from the life insurance business, multiple distribution channels, manageable cash outflows at the holding company, and an established core competency in acquiring other companies and blocks of business. The rating agency added that Protective's credit challenges include its growing variable annuity business and significant credit exposure to reinsurers.
The rating agency said that Protective's holding company ratings were placed on review for upgrade following its announced acquisition by Dai-ichi Life Insurance Company (Dai-ichi, insurance financial strength (IFS) at A1/ stable outlook). The review for upgrade is driven by the acquirer being a much higher rated company (i.e., Dai-ichi's A1 IFS and A3 (hyb) subordinated debt ratings relative to Protective's Baa2 senior debt rating) and Moody's expectation that Dai-ichi would likely provide some level of support to Protective's holding company creditors.
According to Moody's, the following could place upward pressure on Protective's ratings: 1) sustained earnings growth in excess of 10% annually and sustained returns on capital of over 10%; 2) adjusted financial leverage maintained in the mid 20% range; 3) sustained annual cash flow interest coverage of above 6 times and earnings coverage of at least 8 times; and 4) company action level NAIC Risk-Based Capital (RBC) ratio at Protective Life Insurance Company (PLIC) consistently over 400%. In addition, upon the closing of the acquisition by Dai-ichi, Moody's expects to upgrade Protective's debt ratings by one notch to reflect the expectation of support of holding company creditors. Conversely, the following could place downward pressure on the company's ratings: 1) adjusted financial leverage rises above 30%; 2) annual cash flow interest coverage falls below 4 times; and 3) company action level NAIC RBC ratio at PLIC falls below 350%.
Moody's assigned the following provisional ratings and placed the ratings on review for upgrade:
Protective Life Corporation: senior unsecured debt at (P)Baa2, subordinated debt at (P)Baa3, preferred stock at (P)Ba1, junior preferred stock at (P)Ba1;
PLC Capital Trust VI, VII, and VIII: preferred stock at (P)Baa3.
More Credit RatingsView Older Stories
CBS Outdoor Americas (CBSO) Ratings Not Affected on Van Wagner Asset Purchase - Moody's
UPDATE: Pennsylvania Cut to Aa3 from Aa2 by Moody's
UPDATE: Pennsylvania Cut to Aa3 from Aa2 by Moody's
S&P Cuts Oi S.A. (OIBR) to 'BB+'; Outlook Stable (PT)
FedEx (FDX) Indictment is Credit-Negative Event - Moody's
S&P Places AbbVie (ABBV) on CreditWatch Negative Following Revised Shire (SHPG) Offer
S&P Affirms Burlington Stores (BURL) at 'B'; Notes Recent Refinancing
S&P Lowers Rating on WEX (WEX) to 'BB-' Following Evolution1 M&A Announcement
Moody's Raises Prologis (PLD) Preferred Rating to 'Baa2'; Outlook Stable
S&P Lowers IGT (IGT) to 'BBB-' Following GTECH Announcement; Remains on CreditWatch Negative
S&P Raises National Retail Properties (NNN) to 'BBB+'; Consistent Performace, Prudent Growth Strategy Cited
UPDATE: S&P Lowers Rating on Molycorp (MCP) to 'CCC'; Reflects Deteriorating Liquidity Position
S&P Raises L-T Ratings on Mobile Telesystems (MBT) to 'BBB-'; Follows Upgrade of Parent, Sistema
UPDATE: S&P Lowers Rating on Molycorp (MCP) to 'CCC'; Reflects Deteriorating Liquidity Position
S&P Places Albemarle (ALB) Ratings on CreditWatch Negative Following Rockwood (ROC) Deal
S&P Places URS Corp. (URS) on CreditWatch Negative
Fitch Places Lorillard (LO) on Rating Watch Negative Following Reynolds American (RAI) Announcement
Moody's Places Lorillard (LO) on Review for Downgrade
Reynolds American (RAI) Placed on Review for Downgrade by Moody's
S&P Affirms Ratings on Lorillard (LO) Following Reynolds American (RAI) Deal
S&P Raises Outlook on Avalonbay Communities (AVB) to Positive; Sees Apartment Portfolio Benefiting from Favorable Fundamentals
Moody's Raises Outlook on Ally Financial (ALLY) to Positive
Mylan's (MYL) Acqusition of Certain Abbott (ABT) Assets is Credit-Positive Development - Moody's
S&P Rates Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) at 'BB-'; Outlook Stable
Fitch Places Whirlpool (WHR) Ratings on Rating Watch Negative
UPDATE: Banco Espirito Santo S.A. Cut to B+ from BB- by S&P
UPDATE: Banco Espirito Santo S.A. Cut to B+ from BB- by S&P
Moody's Raises Verint Systems (VRNT) to 'Ba3'; Reflects Reduced Leverage on Equity Offering, Debt Paydown
S&P Revises Outlook on Ukraine to Stble; Sees Macroeconomic Stabilization from $17B IMF Program
Moody's Raises Outlook on Willbros Group (WG) to Positive; Affirms CFR at 'B3'
S&P Lowers Outlook on DuPont Fabros Technology (DFT) to Stable; Notes High Tenant, Asset Base Concentration
S&P Assigns 'B' Rating to Southcross Energy Partners (SXE); Sees 'Weak' Business Risk Profile
S&P Lifts Outlook on Wabtec (WAB) to Positive
S&P Cuts Rating on Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority Four Notches to 'B-'; Remains on CreditWatch Negative
S&P Assigns 'B' Corp. Credit Rating to Triangle USA Petroleum (TPLM); Rates $350M Notes Offering
KLA-Tencor's (KLAC) 13M Common Stock Buyback Announcement is Credit-Negative Event; No Impact to Ratings - Moody's
Air Lease's (AL) $2.1B Revolving Facility Assigned 'BBB-' Rating at Moody's
S&P Lowers Rayonier (RYN) to 'BBB', Outlook Stable
S&P Cuts Verso Paper (VRS) to 'CC'; Cites Two-Part Notes Exchange
Moody's Cuts Walter Energy's (WLT) Corp. Family Rating to 'Caa2'; Rates Latest Notes Offering
S&P Cuts PHH Corp. (PHH) to 'B+'; Cites Review Following Sale of PHH Arval
Boeing's (BA) Long-Term Rating at Risk if Ex-Im Bank Not Reauthorized - S&P
Moody's Affirms Ratings of Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) Following WILD Flavors Deal
S&P Keeps Anadarko Petroleum (APC) on CreditWatch Positive
MBIA, Inc. (MBI) Hits New Lows
S&P Raises OUtlook on Cabot Corp. (CBT) to Stable; Cites Improving Performance, Debt Reduction
S&P Keeps Zimmer Holdings (ZMH) on CreditWatch Negative; Cites Recent Biomet Deal
Kroger's (KR) Move to Acquire Vitacost.com (VITC) is Credit-Positive Development - Moody's
Moody's Raises Outlook on Best Buy (BBY) to Stable; Sees Progress in Transition to Multi-Channel Retailer
S&P Raises Allison Transmission (ALSN) to 'BB-'; Sees Strong FCF Generation