Monitronics International: Reports IIIQ 2019 Results

Last time we discussed Monitronics International (dba Brinks Home Security), the company was filing for Chapter 11. Even then, management was aiming to be back operating normally once a major restructuring was effected. We were skeptical – wrongfully so – that this could be accomplished by September 2019 given the many moving parts. Our apologies to the many professionals involved because Monitronics was up and running again out of bankruptcy as a public company (ticker: SCTY) by the end of August.

The company did manage to shed a great deal of debt, as reinforced on the latest Conference Call: “Restructuring resulted in the elimination of over $800 million of debt, including $585 million of bond, and $250 million of the company’s term loans“.

Funnily enough, though, BDC exposure to Monitronics has substantially increased following the voluntary Chapter 11 and restructuring. From $51mn at cost in June 2019, BDC advances have nearly tripled to $148mn. The BDCs involved today are those who were present before, but generally speaking their exposure has greatly increased. That’s because of the nature of the restructuring which saw prior debt partly paid off in cash, equity in SCTY and new Term debt due in 2024. To that was added $295mn in new Term debt and a Revolver. Regarding the latter, $124mn has yet to be drawn.

This is all a wonder of financial engineering, but from what we can tell term debt has only been decreased by just under $100mn, and the revolving debt – if fully drawn – will be greater than the prior balance outstanding. The big change is the write-off of $585mn in 2020 Senior Notes, which received a little cash and 18% of the equity. For all the turgid details see pages 16-18 of the 10-Q.

This leaves Monitronics less leveraged, but not necessarily out of the woods. The company reported its latest results on November 13, which are a mix of before and after bankruptcy and not very instructive from an earnings standpoint. Management did not brave any questions and is still working on its 2020 Plan. As a result neither the BDC Credit Reporter, nor anyone else, has any meaningful metrics to work with. We do note, though, that debt to Adjusted EBITDA (annualizing the IIIQ) remains close to 5:1, and that’s before we get into any mandatory capex.

In any case, Monitronics/Brinks is facing a changing industry, and real challenges with customer attrition that lower debt will not change. Management is promising to make major improvements in how the business is run, promising a “best-in-class” customer experience, including transforming the “sales process from hiring to training, to performance management” and much more in that vein. We wish Monitronics well, but there’s a lot to do in what remains a highly leveraged business with myriad competitors.

This is a classic example of stakeholders – including BDC lenders – “doubling down” on a failing business through a restructuring process. Historically security companies like this one have been cash cows and Brinks has a well known and respected name. So we understand the impetus to try again with a new capital structure and strategic approach. There are no regulators to wag their fingers at the lenders involved and if this does not work out failure is likely to be some time off given the Revolver availability. Regardless, we are rating the “new” Monitronics CCR 4 (WorryList) till we get more tangible news about post-bankruptcy performance, but expect we’ll be reporting back periodically for some time.