CAM Investment Grade Weekly Insights

CAM Investment Grade Weekly Insights

Fund Flows & Issuance: Fund flows remain positive but final data for the week is not yet available as we go to print. Issuance was strong ahead of the holiday shortened week which saw $48.775bn in investment grade corporate primary issuance. Through the end of this week, YTD total corporate bond issuance was $621.145bn. As we near the close of the week, the BofAML US Corporate IG Index is at +118 vs +117, tying the tight YTD and the tightest level since Sept. 2014, was also seen May 15-16 (Source: Bloomberg).

(Bloomberg Intelligence, CAM notes from conference call) Broad-Based Demand Fuels Toll’s Volume Gains, Prices Slip on Mix

  • Toll Brothers’ 2017 homebuilding revenue may top the midpoint of revenue guidance calling for an 11% gain. Closings are likely to skew toward the high end of the range, signaling growth of more than 20%, while average selling prices fall about 6% (driven solely by mix). Volume growth is being fueled by broad-based demand, particularly in California, where Toll will open 18 communities in 2017 as part of its 7% community count growth target. In addition, Toll’s lower-priced products should support faster turnover.
  • Regions: Toll Brothers’ homebuilding operations are divided into five regions and City Living. As of fiscal 2016, California accounted for 28% of revenue, followed by the West (18%), Mid-Atlantic (17%), South (16%), North (16%) and City Living (5%).
    • 2017 Outlook per conference call & investor presentation:
      • 9500 – 7,450 home closings (Previously 6,700-7,500)
      • ASP of $775-825k (unchanged)
      • Revenue of $5.4-6.1bn (Previously $5.19-6.19bn)
      • Community count growth similar to 2016 (unchanged)
      • Gross margins of 24.8% – 25.3% (unchanged)
      • SG&A Margin of 10.6% of revenues (unchanged)
      • JV income between $160-200mm (unchanged)

(CNET) Sports-free digital TV for $10 a month? Viacom may be trying

  • Hunting for a streaming TV option that doesn’t make you pay for ESPN? Viacom may be aiming to deliver.
  • The TV company, which owns networks like Comedy Central, MTV and Nickelodeon, is talking with rival programmers AMC and Discovery about a possible digital-TV bundle that could cost as little as $10 a month, according to a report late Monday in the New York Post.
  • Scripps, which operates channels like HGTV, is also a possible partner.
  • It would add a fresh option in the ballooning marketplace for live, online TV options. In the past year, YouTube, Hulu and DirecTV have rolled out livestreaming television subscriptions that go up against traditional cable as well as existing digital competitors like Sling TV and PlayStation Vue.
  • But Viacom’s potential bundle would be unique from all the rest in a major way: You wouldn’t be paying for the most expensive kind of TV out there, like sports on ESPN.

(PR Newswire) Vulcan Announces Agreement to Acquire Aggregates USA LLC

  • Vulcan Materials Company (NYSE:VMC), the nation’s largest producer of construction aggregates, today announced that it has reached a definitive agreement with SPO Partners to acquire its aggregates business, Aggregates USA LLC for $900 million in cash. Aggregates USA LLC operates 31 facilities serving high growth markets in Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina and Virginia.
  • “We are pleased to have reached agreement with SPO Partners for these strategic assets, which enhance our ability to serve high growth markets throughout the southeastern U.S.,” said Vulcan’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Tom Hill. “With the addition of these quarries and related assets, Vulcan will be able to capitalize on continuing increases in state highway funding programs in Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia, and on the continued private sector growth across the region. This transaction will provide Vulcan with long-term high quality reserves across the entire portfolio. Aggregates USA operates efficient, high productivity facilities run by strong teams, and we welcome them to our Company.”
  • The acquisition complements and expands Vulcan’s service offerings in Georgia with three granite quarries – two of which have rail capabilities extending the Company’s reach into important markets – along with 16 rail distribution yards in Georgia, South Carolina and Florida. In addition, the acquisition includes 12 limestone quarries in eastern Tennessee and southwest Virginia. Vulcan may divest several quarries in Tennessee to a third party in order to expedite the regulatory approval process.

(FitchRatings) Fitch Affirms Albemarle Corp.’s IDR at ‘BBB-‘; Outlook Revised to Positive

  • Fitch Ratings has affirmed the long-term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) of Albemarle Corp. (NYSE: ALB) at ‘BBB-‘. The Rating Outlook is revised to Positive from Stable. Albemarle’s ratings reflect its exposure to the growing lithium industry, the relative stability of its bromine and catalysts businesses, strong FCF generation and increased financial flexibility.
  • Albemarle’s credit metrics have improved considerably since the Rockwood transaction was finalized in early 2015 due primarily to strong growth in the company’s lithium business and the repayment of greater than $2 billion of debt using proceeds from several divestitures including the sale of its Chemetall business in 2016. Fitch projects Albemarle’s FFO Adjust Leverage will stay within the 2.5x-3.0x range through 2019 and forecasts strong FCF generation that should average between $150 million to 200 million on a normalized basis. Albemarle plans to spend greater than $2 billion in CapEx through 2021 with the bulk of that spending used to increase capacity in its lithium business. While Fitch projects the company should be able to comfortably self-fund these expenditures, Albemarle has also stated its intent to utilize its strengthened balance sheet to pursue acquisitions in the lithium space and return cash to its shareholders in the form of growing dividends and/or share repurchases. However, Fitch believes the company will balance such priorities against its goal of maintaining a net leverage ratio in the 2.0-2.5x range.
  • The Positive Outlook reflects Fitch’s view that Albemarle’s positive operating momentum and strengthened balance sheet paired with a demonstrated track record of adhering to a credit conscious capital allocation policy as the company pursues its strategic goals would likely lead to a positive rating action in the coming 12-18 months.