Nominally on October 21, troubled oil services company McDermott International arranged $1.7bn of additional financing to meet an upcoming severe cash shortfall. That sounded like very good news to the stock and bond markets worried about the solvency of the company for several weeks now. The stock price jumped. However, investors soon began to have second thoughts and the stock and bonds both dropped ! The Wall Street Journal reported “McDermott’s bond rose as high as 33 cents on the dollar after the refinancing was announced, from about 29 cents on Friday, before falling to about 24 cents when the revised estimates were disclosed in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing. The company’s shares plotted a similar course, opening 21% higher at $2.84 before dropping to $2.04“.
The reasons include the fact that the “lifeline” debt cannot be accessed in one lump sum , or at will, but only in 4 tranches that relate to performance and require “sign-off” by other creditors, which is another word from concessions. Those were well spelled out in another article, this time from Bloomberg. Furthermore, the company paid out millions in retention bonuses to senior executives. Often when you’re paying your senior people a small fortune to do the work they’ve been doing for a healthy paycheck already, the chances of things going off the rails is high. Just as importantly, the company revised its earlier financial projections for 2019:
The company changed its estimate of earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization, or Ebitda, to $474 million in 2019 from $725 million because of incremental charges on existing projects, according to the SEC filing. It also revised its free-cash-flow estimate for the year to negative $1.2 billion from negative $640 million.
This is far from resolving McDermott’s financial troubles and may – ironically enough – accelerate the need for a Chapter 11 filing or a full scale reorganization. We’ve been writing about the credit since September 19, 2019 when a restructuring firm was first hired, but the company has been rated CCR 4 – our Worry List – since July 30. We followed up with an update regarding this impending lifeline on September 25, 2019. Now – as then – we remain skeptical that McDermott can dodge the bankruptcy/restructuring bullet. Furthermore, we’re placing the company on our still-under-development Bankruptcy Imminent list, which means we believe there is a strong chance of a filing or re-organization occurring within the next 3 months. Judging by the market reactions by closing time, we may not be alone. This would cause – judging by the current valuation of the 2025 debt in the markets – a (35%) or greater loss for the two BDCs involved, or close to ($4mn) between the two, and the loss for some time of nearly $0.800mn of investment income. Not disastrous for either BDC but another reminder that the “oil patch” is a difficult place to play in.