Murray Energy: Assessing Restructuring Options

e don’t want to bury the lead: Murray Energy is likely to file for bankruptcy or re-organize and the BDC lenders involved are going to absorb some rather large losses. On September 10, 2019 the Wall Street Journal’s bankruptcy publication reported that the privately-held coal miner had hired Kirkland & Ellis and Evercore to assess restructuring options.

That follows a recent downturn in the short term prospects for the U.S. coal industry, according to Moody’s and as reported by S&P… That’s not to mention the obvious secular decline in the prospects for coal mining and coal usage. Previously in 2019 , the rating groups had downgraded the company’s debt to SD or Selective Default, so the writing has been on the wall.

BDC exposure totals $52.4mn, spread over 6 BDCs. These include publicly traded FS-KKR Capital (FSK) and three sister non-traded BDCs funds (FSIC II, FSIC III and FSIC IV but not – surprisingly – FS Energy). Then there are two others: Cion Investment and Business Development Corporation Of America.The exposure is in two different loans, one which matures in 2021 and the other in 2022. The debt has been on our under-performing list since IVQ 2018 and is currently rated CCR 4 (Worry List), where the chances of an eventual loss are greater than a full recovery.

As of June 2019, the 2021 debt was carried at par but the 2022 debt was discounted by a third. Currently, though, the 2022 debt trades at twice that discount, suggesting holders are not optimistic. We wouldn’t be surprised to see the 2022 debt fully written off once the dust settles, which would result in ($8.5mn) of further losses and ($12.5mn) in Realized Losses, to be absorbed by Cion and BDCA. Less clear is what might happen to the 2021 debt, which still trades at par. We won’t speculate at this point but will point out that – overall – $5.5mn of annual investment income is at risk.

In any case, we expect we’ll be discussing Murray Energy again in the weeks ahead.

J.C. Penney: Downgraded by S&P

Standard & Poor’s has downgraded troubled retailer J.C. Penney to CCC from CCC+. Apparently, all the talk about restructuring the company in advance of any Chapter 11 filing, which we discussed in posts on July 23, 2019, when restructuring advisors were first called in and again on August 14, when Bloomberg reported serious talk of a debt for equity swap was in the air.

Not helping Penney’s with S&P is that the retail background for bricks and mortar stores remains challenging, notwithstanding the operational advances management has made. S&P’s view was summed up as follows:

“The negative outlook on JCP reflects the growing risk of a distressed debt exchange or restructuring in the next 12 months as industry headwinds, weak same-store sales, and a burdensome debt load contribute to its unsustainable capital structure.

“We could lower our ratings on JCP if the company announces a debt exchange or restructuring or if its operating conditions worsen such that we see a restructuring as increasingly likely in the next six months.

“Before raising our rating on JCP, we would expect the company to demonstrate a significant and sustained improvement in its performance that leads us to view a distressed exchange as less likely.”

We have rated J.C. Penney CCR 4 on our 1-5 scale, aka on our Worry List, where we believe the chances of an ultimate loss are greater than that of full recovery. Thankfully from a BDC perspective although there are 4 BDCs with exposure (including three non-traded FS Investment-KKR Capital BDCs) total exposure is very modest at $6.8mn at cost. All the debt sits towards the top of the capital structure and the biggest discount to cost is only (8%) as of June 2019. We believe the actual loss will be more substantial if and when a debt for equity swap or Chapter 11 occurs, but either way the impact on BDC net asset value and income should be modest. That’s a statement that cannot be made about the many other lenders to J.C. Penney, whose borrowings are substantial.

Constellis Holdings: Added To Under-Performing List

With the publication of the IIQ 2019 valuations by 8 BDCs with $107mn in various forms of debt exposure (2022-2024 and both senior and second lien), we’ve added Constellis Holdings to our under-performers list with an initial rating of CCR 3 (Watch List). The debt has been discounted between (6%-30%) from 0% to (5%) in the prior quarter.

This is not surprising as there has been a massive number of changes in senior management in recent months and downgrades from both S&P and Moody’s in the spring, worried about high leverage; cash flow losses and operational challenges. For the BDC sector, this is very big exposure in aggregate, with annual income of approx. $9mn at risk should the company default down the road. With that said $90mn of the debt is held by the three FS-KKR non traded BDCs (FS II-III and IV), which are intending to go public under one banner before long. How Constellis plays out will be of above average interest at FS Investment-KKR in the quarters ahead.

J.C. Penney: Discussion Of Debt Swap

Bloomberg reported on August 7, 2019 that J.C. Penney creditors are seriously considering a debt swap to give the troubled department store chain more time to turn its business round.

That may not affect the several BDCs with $6.8mn of first lien exposure (most recently TPG Specialty – TSLX – has gotten involved), but will draw in second lien debt.

In any case, although the company has liquidity and no immediate debt maturities, chances are increasing that something will happen in the weeks ahead. That might result in lower values for the 3 FS-KKR non-traded funds involved, all of whom have valued their modest exposure at or close to par last time results were published – in IQ 2019.

The retail apocalypse marches on.

Bellatrix Exploration: Announces IIQ 2019 Results

On August 7, 2019 Canadian oil and gas company Bellatrix Exploration announced IIQ 2019 results. This followed the restructuring of the company’s balance sheet, as we’ve discussed previously on April 17 and June 5 2019. There were no fireworks in the latest results. Nonetheless, despite the $110mn reduction in debt, the company remains vulnerable to market conditions. We noted in the press release that debt to EBITDA is at 4.3x, not that far off the maximum covenanted multiple of 5.0x.

The company retains a Corporate Credit Rating of 3. Total exposure at June 30 2019 was $95.9mn, mostly in second lien debt due in 2023 and valued close to par. All outstandings are held by FS-KKR Capital funds, with the bulk retained by FS Energy & Power ($72mn). No immediate cause for concern – which is why Bellatrix is on our Watch List – but given the hit and miss nature of the business and its exposure to global energy markets, this credit will continue to be worth watching.

J.C. Penney: Financial Picture Update

Another famous retailer – J.C. Penney – has been back in the news since Reuters announced on July 18, 2019 the hiring of restructuring advisors. We added the retailer to our Worry List on the news. Now Motley Fool has provided a useful summary of the company’s financial condition. Here are highlights: ”

“As of the end of last quarter, J.C. Penney had $3.9 billion of debt, plus another $1.2 billion of lease liabilities. Meanwhile, the company’s adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) has plunged in recent years due to strategic missteps and tough business conditions. This has driven J.C. Penney’s leverage to unsustainable levels. Adjusted EBITDA totaled $568 million in fiscal 2018 — down from $1 billion in fiscal 2016 — putting J.C. Penney’s leverage ratio at more than seven times EBITDA. For comparison, most investment-grade companies have debt that is no more than three times EBITDA”.

The real problem is looming farther out. J.C. Penney has about $2.5 billion of secured debt that will mature between 2023 and 2025. It also has $1.2 billion of unsecured debt maturing between 2036 and 2097. J.C. Penney needs to whittle down the principal balance of this debt while ensuring that it can extend the maturities of what remains.

J.C. Penney’s unsecured debt maturing in 2036 and beyond currently trades for between $0.23 and $0.26 on the dollar. Even some of its lower-priority secured debt trades for less than $0.50 on the dollar. Thus, the market is already factoring in a substantial likelihood that creditors won’t be repaid in full. This should motivate them to cooperate with the company’s efforts to restructure its debt. It might even make sense to write off some of the principal if J.C. Penney can offer more collateral in exchange (and perhaps some equity warrants to reward creditors if the company manages to turn itself around).

From a BDC perspective, the exposure is modest at $3.3mn,  and spread over three FS KKR non-traded BDCs: FSIC II, FSIC III and FSIC IV in two different loans/notes, one maturing in 2020 and another in 2023. We expect lower valuations will be applied in future quarters than as of 3/31/2019 when FMV was close to par, but the impact on individual BDC balance sheets and income statements, even if Chapter 11 does eventually occur, should be modest.

Monitronics: Files Chapter 11

Monitronics International – an alarm monitoring company that we’ve discussed on two prior occasions on March 23, 2019 and again on May 23, has filed for a pre-packaged Chapter 11. It’s fair to say that the restructuring plan – approved by most creditors but still requiring shareholder approval of the parent of the company – Ascent Capital – is highly complex. From what we understand Monitronics will be shedding about half of its existing debt load; raising a quarter billion dollars of debtor-in-possession debt financing to be followed by even more “exit financing”; as well as raising equity capital through a Rights Offering and receiving $23mn from Ascent as part of a scheme to have the parent absorbed by the subsidiary. At the end of all this Monitronics – despite having nearly $1bn in debt still on its books – will have “the strongest balance sheet in our industry”, according to the CEO.  We’re still trying to determine what the impact of this restructuring plan will have on the 5 BDCs with $20.7mn of term debt exposure. At March 31, 2019 the debt was already discounted to varying degrees. A final accounting will have to wait till this bankruptcy process plays out. Management is predicting an exit within 75 days, or mid-September. Given the numerous moving parts, we are skeptical about the timetable, even though we’ve seen this pre-packaged Chapter 11 situations move through the courts in as little as one day ! For the moment at least, the most tangible impact is that investment income on the debt will be interrupted for some or all the third quarter of 2019. The biggest impact will be felt by Business Development Corporation of America (BDCA), which has half the total BDC exposure.

Hudson Technologies: Stock Price Drop

As of June 19, 2019 the stock price of publicly traded refrigerants distributor Hudson Technologies (ticker: HDSN) has dropped below $1.00 and become a “penny stock”. The company – based on BDC valuations – has been under-performing since June 2018. As a public entity, we’ve been able to review quarterly filings and read the ever bullish Conference Call transcripts. We added Hudson first to our Watch List (CCR 3) and then – more recently – to our Worry List (CCR 4) and are concerned that the company may soon join our Bankruptcy List (CCR 5). Admittedly as of IQ 2019, the company was in compliance with much adjusted covenants on both its secured Revolver and its Term Loan.  The business is admittedly seasonal but Operating Income was under a quarter million dollars and interest expense $2.4mn. Total debt, which includes the 2023 Term debt where all BDC exposure sits, is $131mn. All of which to say that the signs do not look good for the business and for its lenders. BDC exposure is $102mn, and generates $13mn of annual investment income. All the BDCs are part of the FS Investments-KKR complex and include publicly traded FSK ($39mn) and non-traded FSIC II, FSIC III and FSIC IV.  At March 31, 2019 the Term debt had already been discounted (29%).  The debt is publicly traded and that discount holds as of June 19, 2019 based on Advantage Data’s middle market loan real-time data. Unfortunately, the fundamentals of the industry in which the company operates are currently negative and we worry that if a Chapter 11 filing or out of court restructuring occurs there will be both income interruption and further losses both realized and unrealized. At worst, the BDC lenders might have to write off (or convert to equity) 50% of debt outstanding, or around $50mn, compared to ($30mn) already discounted. Given the size of the BDC exposure; the substantial investment income accruing; the very sharp drop in the stock price and the negative tilt in recent results, this is a credit worth paying close attention to.

Bellatrix Corporation: Completes Restructuring

On June 4, 2019 Canadian oil exploration company Bellatrix  announced the completion of its restructuring plan, which we wrote about in an earlier post on April 17, 2019. The press release provides useful summary details of the various components of the recapitalization but also addresses the 2023 second lien debt, which accounts for the $106mn BDC exposure to 4 different FS-KKR Capital BDCs, both traded (FSK) and non-traded. The deal is a partial debt for equity swap with lenders reducing the oil company’s total debt load by $110mn.

Monitronics: Enters Into Restructuring Agreement With Creditors

On May 20, 2019, the wholly-owned subsidiary of publicly traded Ascent Capital Group (ASCMA) – Monitronics International Inc.entered into a Restructuring Support Agreement (“RSA”) with its latest creditor. This is part of a major restructuring effort that will reduce Monitronics debt and see the parent company merge into the parent as part of a pre-packaged bankruptcy. BDC exposure aggregates $21mn, spread over 5 public and non- public funds.

Templar Energy: CEO Resigns

On April 26, 2019 troubled oil exploration company Templar Energy, LLC announced the resignation of its long time CEO and founder David D. Le Norman. He is to be replaced by Chief Operating Officer of Le Norman Operating, LLC Brian Simmons.  Mr Le Norman remains Chairman of Templar Energy. That sounds like bad news for the $12.8mn still invested at cost by two non-traded BDCs owned by FS investment & KKR: FSIC II and FSIC III. The exposure appears to be in the form of preferred and equity received as part of a massive debt for equity swap entered into in 2016 that saw $128mn of BDC second lien debt converted. However, judging by the valuation of the BDC stakes at 12/31/2018 – discounted by as much as (93%) the company’s performance remains problematic. Mr Le Norman’s departure cannot help.

Sequential Brands: Sells Two Major Brands

On April 17, 2019 Sequential Brands Group, Inc. sold two major brand lines to Marquee Brands LLC for $175mn and an earn-out. The Company plans to use a substantial portion of the proceeds from the transaction to pay down debt. The transaction is expected to close in the IIQ 2019. BDC exposure to the Company is high at $295mn, in first lien, second lien and equity. See the Company File for our updated View.

Bellatrix Exploration: Schedules Restructuring Meeting

Publicly traded Canadian gas explorer Bellatrix Exploration is once again seeking to restructure its debt-heavy balance sheet. A Canadian court has allowed a meeting of debt and equity holders to be scheduled for May 15, 2019. At the meeting a complex arrangement of debt exchange, forgiveness and additional issuance, and the issuance of new stock, will  be voted on by the different classes of stakeholders. The Company appears to have garnered broad – but not conclusive – support for its plans. If the recapitalization occurs any immediate leverage or cash flow concerns will be alleviated. If not approved, the potential outcome is hard to evaluate but is unlikely to be positive for most of the parties. BDC exposure is high at $105mn and all concentrated in the second lien 2023 Term Loan. For our View of the credit risks involved see the Company File.

Sungard Availability Services: Files Chapter 11 UPDATED

Sungard Availability Services “has officially confirmed that the company will enter a ‘pre-packaged’ Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing on or around May 1st 2019”, according to a news report.  The IT company has already negotiated a restructuring agreement with secured and unsecured creditors and expects to exiting bankruptcy shortly. The restructuring involves a debt for equity swap, which is reportedly going to reduce total debt “by over two-thirds”. In the interim, a $100mn Debtor In Possession financing has been arranged, and business continues as usual.

BDC exposure to the Company is substantial: $79mn, according to Advantage Data records. There are three tranches involved: two are senior debt maturing in 2021 and 2022 and subordinated debt due 4/1/2022. The BDCs involved are principally from the FS KKR Group: FSK, FSIC II and FSIC III and also GECC. $26mn at cost is in the subordinated debt, which was the tranche most written down at 12/31/2018, discounted by over &0%). Valuations on the senior tranches are generally much closer to par, varying between a discount of (2%) to (14%). Based on what we’ve heard of the size of the debt forgiveness, we’re surprised at how relatively modest the unrealized depreciation is. That’s complicated by the fact that the BDCs involved are likely to have been aware of the restructuring proposals when setting the valuation level. Will there be further write-downs of the senior and subordinated debt value now the bankruptcy cat is out of the bag or are we done ? Frankly, we don’t know, but will put a pin in the subject until the next portfolio filing.  Till then, we’ll limit ourselves to projecting Realized Losses will range between $20mn-$26mn, and income will be interrupted as the Company moves through the bankruptcy process, affected IIQ 2019 investment income.

UPDATED: The BDC Reporter was contacted following the origination of this post by GECC which noted that its Sungard position was closed in January at a net gain. Here is what the 10-K said in “Subsequent Developments”: 

In January 2019, we sold $4.8 million of par value of Sungard Availability Services Capital, Inc. first lien senior secured loan at a price of approximately 78% of par value. [Page 62]

By our calculation, 78% of par equals proceeds of $3.750mn.

Advantage Data records shows GECC’s exposure to the Company’s debt began in IVQ 2017 (12/2/2017), with $6.0mn of par purchased for $5.7mn. This exposure reached as high as $11.380mn at par, and a cost of $11.049mn in the IIIQ 2018. A portion was sold in IVQ 2018 and the rest – as mentioned above- in January 2019.

According to GECC’s Investor Presentation for the IVQ 2018 – which includes a section  detailing “Individual Realized Investments”, a slide indicated : “GECC sold the entirety of its investment at approximately $0.92 in IVQ 2018 / IQ 2019, resulting in an IRR of 6.7% and a cash-on-cash return of 1.05x, net of accrued interest & amortization”. See page 12.

Monitronics: Convertible Debt Repurchase Terms Changed

Monitronics, which does business as Brinks Home Security, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Ascent Capital Group, a public company with the ticker ASCMA. The business is very highly leveraged, with debt of $1.8bn and adjusted EBITDA at Brink’s for nine months annualizing at under $300mn. The auditor of ASCMA has raised “Going Concern” doubts in its IIIQ 2018 statements .  In January 2019, the parent hired Moelis to help them consider “strategic alternatives” , which  include “an investment in the Company or its operating subsidiary Brinks Home Security by a third party”. Amidst of all this, ASCMA has been attempting to restructure its debt mountain and – controversially – has been seeking to redeem Convertible Notes due 2020. This has been going on for months, but the latest press release on March 22, 2019 suggests the transaction has been achieved by raising the tender price offered. In the greater scheme of things, though, the problems of Monitronics and its parent appear far from over. ASCMA has become a penny stock, closing at $0.65, down hugely in the past year from over $ a share. Surprisingly, the 4 BDCs with $12mn of aggregate exposure to Monitronics have continued to mark their investment at close to par value through September 2018. All the BDCs – which include Oaktree Strategic (OCSI), FS Investment non-traded funds II & III  and non-traded CCT II (the last 3 all part of the FS KKR construct) – are invested in the 2022 Term Loan. The senior nature of the obligation may have justified the generous values ascribed. However, in the IVQ 2018 valuations OCSI discounted the debt by (10%) for the first time and the other BDCs also applied lower valuations than in the past. Looking at the numbers, the huge amount of debt and the little liquidity available – not to mention the auditor’s Going Concern doubts – has kept this credit on our Watch List for some time, regardless of the BDCs numbers. We don’t know if the Convertible Debt repurchase is a win, or a loss or neutral, but before long we still expect a credit event  – such as a default or non-payment – to occur. About $1mn of investment income is at risk spread roughly evenly over the BDCs mentioned. Furthermore, barring a well heeled buyer coming along, full repayment of the 2022 Term Loan also has to be questionable.