Tuesday, August 18, 2009
It’s always flattering when someone comes up to you and makes an offer for something you own, even if you weren’t intending to sell it.
Well, bond investors are being flattered enough to blush lately as a spate of tender offers has hit the markets in the past few months.
Here’s what’s happening:
When credit markets “froze” up last year, so did the market for new bond issues. Companies, which were looking to refinance to improve their maturity profiles or simply raise capital for some corporate purpose, were essentially locked out. And we know what happened to the secondary market.
When your “old” bonds are yielding in double digits, who is going to buy some new, probably longer dated ones, at a lower rate. So very few new issues hit the market.
But as the markets have thawed, it has enabled issuers to come to market, selling new longer-dated bonds at “decent” rates and usually accompanying it with an offer to repurchase some outstanding shorter dated.
Just to name a few issuers doing this: International Paper (twice!), Owens Illinois, Corrections Corp of America, Centex/Pulte.
Now a couple of examples to understand that mumbo-jumbo.
Two weeks ago, Jabil Circuit issued $312 million of 7.75% notes at 96.143% (yield 8.50%). Here’s a Link.
At the same time, they offered to buy back the $300 million outstanding of their 5,875% July 15, 2010 (that’s less than 1 year) notes for a “total consideration” of 103.125%. That price is equivalent to a yield of only 2.45% for the remaining term of the bond. LINK.
As a happy owner of the 2010 notes, I was glad to turn them in a year before I expected to collect (2.45% doesn’t meet my yield threshold…might as well pay down my mortgage).
So why would Jabil issue notes at 8.5%, to buy back an equal amount of notes at 2.5%? Well, obviously they want to extend maturities. The market is quite open right now for new issues and they can’t assume it will necessarily stay that way. It’s an extra $18 million in interest expense for the year for a company that only earned $157 million pre-tax in its last full fiscal year. The comfort that liquidity offers comes at a hefty price.
The holders of the 2010 note had a relatively easy choice. Accept the attractive tender (98% did accept) or keep their 5.875 % note and collect the principal next June. There is little doubt they will be paid. The 2010 bond will obviously have reduced liquidity now, but frankly, most of these notes are bought to be held to maturity.
Of course, once Jabil pays for the tendered bonds, what do you do with the money? Well, the Jabil 2016 notes don’t look too bad (can you get me some?).
Another recent example is Brunswick Corporation (bowling, marine equipment). Brunswick, being heavily in the non-discrectionary consumer category, is having a hard time with the recession.
The folks at Brunswick sold $350 million of 11.25% SECURED (i.e. collateralized) notes due 2016 at 97.036% (yield 11.89%) and have tendered for $150 million of their 5% June 2011 notes. They’re offering 97% for the notes, plus a 3% “consent fee”, for a total of 100%. LINK
No premium this time, but I’ll be tendering happily again since this credit was making me a bit nervous. The terms that Brunswick has paid to make the new bond happen, clearly shows that others are a bit skittish also.
In any case, I can’t buy the new issue, since it is a Rule 144A/Reg S. Non-US persons can, but frankly I’m not recommending this risk right now.
Although at some times its hard to say goodbye to a bond for which a tender has been made, it also allows you to adjust your portfolio and move to a more profitable section of the yield curve. Selling those notes with 1 or 2 years left and where most of the profit has been made –with very little cost-, is a great deal.
So for now…keep ‘em coming. I’m loving these tenders. On the other hand, the bond calls…well that’s another issue. (and another post).
Posted by Alex Dalmady at 4:43 PM