Fitch Downgrades Arch Coal's Sr. Secured Credit Facilities to 'CCC-/RR2'
Fitch Ratings has taken the following rating actions on Arch Coal, Inc.
(Arch Coal; NYSE: ACI) in connection with the expiration of the
company's debt exchange offers:
--Issuer Default Rating (IDR) affirmed at 'C';
--Senior secured revolving credit facility downgraded to 'CCC-/RR2' from
--Senior secured term loan downgraded 'CCC-/RR2' from 'B-/RR2';
--Second lien secured notes affirmed at 'C/RR6';
--Senior unsecured notes affirmed at 'C/RR6'.
Roughly $5.4 billion in principal amount of debt and commitments are
affected by this action.
The downgrade reflects Fitch's view that a bankruptcy is more likely
following the expiration of the exchange offers without executing a
distressed debt exchange.
Fitch believes Arch's current capital structure is unsustainable and
that restructuring is necessary. Failure to execute a restructuring
outside of court would likely result in bankruptcy.
KEY RATING DRIVERS
UPDATED RECOVERY ANALYSIS
Fitch's analysis is based on a going concern enterprise value of nearly
$2.2 billion derived from a $400 million EBITDA and a 5.5x multiple.
Fitch assumes administrative claims will be 10% and that concessions
will be 5% of the enterprise value. Under this valuation, the first lien
senior secured debt, including an estimate of $122.8 million drawn under
the $250 million revolver, has superior recovery given default at 89%.
As outlined below in Key Assumptions, Fitch is assuming a fairly slow
recovery even though the coal price slide began in earnest in 2012. As
such, Fitch does not forecast EBITDA to reach $400 million through 2017
but believes $400 million reflects a conservative long-term estimate. At
an EBITDA assumption of $330 million, the senior secured debt has a
superior recovery at 73%.
A substantial portion of domestic coal production is in restructuring.
Alpha Natural Resources, Inc., Walter Energy, Inc., James River Coal
Company, and Patriot Coal Corporation, together, accounted for about 13%
of U.S. coal production in 2013 and Arch accounted for an additional
13%. Recently, coal assets have changed hands at very distressed values
comprising little or no cash given the need to invest in capital and
fund reclamation expenditures as well as legacy pension and other
In contrast to other restructuring companies, Arch benefits from
relatively low exposure to employee legacy liabilities and as of
December 31, 2015, only six of its 5,000 employees belong to a union.
Self-bonding of $458.5 million, $177.7 million surety bonds, and $3.5
million in secured letters of credit support reclamation obligations as
of Dec. 31, 2014. These would need to be assumed or replaced in the
event of asset sales or an acquisition.
--Production, costs, and capital expenditures within guidance range for
--Coal prices bottom out in 2015 with scant recovery thereafter;
--No asset sales proceeds are assumed.
DOMESTIC WEAKNESS/GLOBAL OVERSUPPLY
Steam coal demand in the U.S. is currently suffering from heavy
competition from very low natural gas prices, supply has been
disciplined, but stocks are on the high side and prices are soft. Lack
of new coal fired power plant builds and shuttering obsolete plants is
expected to result in a 10-15% decline in coal production over the
medium term. The U.S. steel industry is currently suffering from import
competition which weighs on domestic metallurgical (met) coal
Globally, both met and steam coal markets are in excess supply and
prices are weak. Coal producers have been running for cash with a focus
on reducing costs which has delayed price recovery. In particular, Fitch
believes the hard coking coal bench mark price could average about
$95/tonne (t) and the Newcastle steam coal benchmark could be below
$60/t over the next 12 months versus current prices of $89/t and
$67.80/t respectively. U.S. exports, which peaked at 125 million tons in
2011, are challenged by rail transport to port and the strong U.S.
dollar. Fitch expects U.S. exports to drop back into the 50 million ton
range over the medium term.
Arch Coal benefits from large, well-diversified operations and good
control of low-cost production. Globally, Arch is the sixth largest coal
producer based on volumes. The company sold 134 million tons of coal in
2014. As of June 30, 2015, roughly 97% of expected 2015 steam coal
production volumes are committed and priced. Assuming no change in sales
volume for 2016, about 47% of steam tons are committed and priced. The
company has the third largest coal reserve position in the U.S. at 5.1
Negative: Future developments that may, individually or collectively,
lead to negative rating action include:
--Failure to pay debt service within grace periods and or bankruptcy
filing would result in a downgrade of the IDR to D.
Positive: Future developments that may lead to a positive rating action
--Significant reduction of debt and interest expenses could result in an
LIQUIDITY AND DEBT STRUCTURE
At June 30, 2015, cash on hand was $440 million, short-term investments
were $250 million, and $123 million was available under the company's
credit facilities. The $200 million accounts receivable facility has a
stated maturity in December 2017. The $250 million revolving credit
facility matures in June 2016. Revolver covenants include a maximum net
senior secured leverage ratio of 5:1 from June 30, 2015 with step-downs
thereafter and a minimum liquidity of $550 million through Dec. 30,
2015. Fitch expects cash and short-term investments to provide
sufficient liquidity through 2017.
Fitch estimates the following near term payments:
--$29 million quarterly term loan principal and interest due on Dec. 31,
2015 and March 31, 2016;
--$18 million semi-annual coupon on the $500 million 7.25% notes due on
April 1, 2016;
--$89.7 million aggregate semi-annual coupons on the $1 billion 7%
notes, the $375 million 9.875% notes and the $1 billion 7.25% notes due
on Dec. 15, 2015;
--$14 million semi-annual coupon on the $350 million 8% notes due on
Jan. 15, 2016.
FREE CASH FLOW BURN
Cash burn is expected to continue absent substantial recovery in met
coal prices. Under the current capital structure, guidance for cash
interest expense is $360 million to $370 million and for capital
expenditure is $130 million to $140 million for 2015. Fitch expects cash
burn of at least $200 million per year through 2017.
Arch's actions to preserve liquidity since 2012 coupled with three years
of losses have resulted in a debt/capital ratio at 77% and a secured
debt/EBITDA ratio of more than 7x.
Estimated current scheduled maturities of debt are $34.4 million in
2015, $29.9 million in 2016, $30.1 million in 2017, $1.9 billion in
2018, $1.7 billion in 2019 and $1.5 billion thereafter. The bulk of the
2018 maturity consists of the senior secured term loan due 2018.
Additional information is available on www.fitchratings.com.
Corporate Rating Methodology - Including Short-Term Ratings and Parent
and Subsidiary Linkage (pub. 17 Aug 2015)
Distressed Debt Exchange (pub. 12 Jun 2015)
Recovery Ratings and Notching Criteria for Non-Financial Corporate
Issuers (pub. 12 Jun 2015)
Dodd-Frank Rating Information Disclosure Form
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