Superior Plus – expect a dividend cut

I have been posting about this very high-yield stock since late July, stating that their dividends would have to be chopped by about 25% or so to maintain their financial health.

Their last quarterly announcement was generally below expectations, and for the comparable period from 2009, they are down about $19M in operating cash flow.

They were trading at about $13.50/share when I posted about them originally, and they are now at $10.80/share. Their indicated dividend is still a whopping $1.62/share, but it is more likely than ever that management will reduce the dividend by a factor of 40-50% (compared to my expectations of 25% before), and that this increased dividend cut has been baked into the stock price. It is likely when they make the announcement the shares will drop further, as retail investors that assumed they were getting a 15% yield will be bailing out.

The company operationally makes money and will likely make money in the future, but their primary problem is they have slightly over a billion dollars of debt on the books and the financial leverage is quite high. SPB debentures are still all trading at around par, so management would be very wise to cut the dividend, and then lengthen the term structure of their debt – the first of which matures in December 2012. One never knows when this mania for fixed income will resolve itself.

SPB sticks out on my equity radar like a sore thumb (and likely on the radar of many others), but there is a reason why I am not buying it.