There is a reason why Yellow Media (TSX: YLO) is trading at 30-some odd cents per share, and the preferred shares are trading at 40% yields: it isn’t entirely clear whether the company will make it out of the doldrums or not.
The last quarterly report was not a home run, nor was it a strike-out; instead, it is a continuation of the fine line between the company going broke or the company making it.
Cash flow continues to be relatively poor, especially with the addition of income taxes after the trust conversion. The only solace there is that the federal corporate rate drops from 16.5% to 15% in 2012. Normally companies trading this low usually don’t have taxes as a problem (since they are typically not making money) but in this case, the federal-provincial tax bite becomes material since debt has to be paid off with after-tax dollars.
The tax tidbit that are sending analysts into negative mode again is that their estimate is their tax cash outflow of $250M in 2012 based off of a 27% tax rate; 2012 is a double taxation year because they will have to pay in installments for two years worth of taxes; if you do the simple division by two and divide by 0.27, that gives you an estimated pre-tax income of about $463M. At a 27% rate, that is about $338M after tax.
The company has the following debt maturity schedule:
February 18, 2013: $266M + $35M Credit Facility / CP
July 10, 2013: $130M MTN maturity
December 3, 2013: $125M MTN maturity
April 21, 2014: $254.7M MTN maturity
Feburary 2, 2015: $138M MTN maturity
February 15, 2016: $319.9M MTN maturity
The company has $52M cash currently. Assuming they have zero access to the credit market for the next couple years, they will need to generate roughly $50M in free cash flow each quarter, which is a tall order given their declining revenue base. That said, if they can actually stabilize their cash situation, they will likely be able to get an extension to their facility and figure out a way how to re-finance their MTN maturities. It will not be an easy climb up from the abyss, however.
My quick guess is that an easy $10.7M annual after-tax cash flow will be saved by converting the Series 1 preferred shares (TSX: YLO.PR.A) into equity as soon as possible. My other guess, and this one is not a guarantee by any stretch, is that they will opt to convert their Series 2 (TSX: YLO.PR.B) preferred share series as quickly as possible to save another $7.6M/year of after-tax cash flow. This then leaves the question whether the company is going to suspend preferred dividends entirely, and if they do, then Series 2 will not be converted, at least not until 2017. This is why the preferred shares are trading as low as they are – the company can pull the plug on the dividends. They will likely make this decision after the first quarter of 2012, depending on results. Series 3 and 5 of the preferred shares (TSX: YLO.PR.C and YLO.PR.D) both add up to about $22.2M/year in dividends.
Yellow Media should survive operationally, but the question at this point is whether they will survive financially. Who will reap the rewards of the cash flow of this over-leveraged entity? Certainly not common shareholders at this point, but right now the marginal question is whether the preferred shareholders will come out of this looking like geniuses or will they be burnt as well? This is increasingly looking like a binary situation, with either the preferred shareholders going to zero (in a recapitalization), or seeing the company slowly trudge their way back up to credit-worthy status over the process of a few years. The big hurdle is 2013.