Taiga Building Products resumes interest payments

Taiga Building Products has resumed paying interest on their notes. I have written about the notes earlier and pointed out the risks associated with the notes. At that time the notes were trading between 45 and 50 cents on the dollar.

After the closing of trading on January 13, 2010, Taiga announced the following:

BURNABY, BC, Jan. 13 /CNW/ – Taiga Building Products Ltd. (“Taiga” or the “Company”) is pleased to announce that due to strengthening cash flows, it will be resuming interest payments on its 14% subordinated notes, including monthly interest on deferred interest, as per Section 2.04 of the Note Indenture dated as of September 1, 2005. Interest deferred from March 1, 2009 through November 30, 2009, including interest on deferred interest, will be paid by September 1, 2010 as per Section 2.04 of the Note Indenture. The Board of Directors may choose to pay interest prior to September 1, 2010 subject to cash flow considerations.

The first reinstated interest payment date will be January 15, 2010, with respect to interest, and interest on deferred interest, accruing for the month of December 2009.

… and on the following day, announced:

BURNABY, BC, Jan. 14 /CNW/ – Taiga Building Products Ltd. (TSX: TBL & TBL.NT) announces that it will be paying the monthly interest payment of $11.6667 per $1,000 principal value subordinated Notes. Taiga will also be paying the interest on deferred interest, accruing for the month of December 2009, in the amount of $1.1233 per $1,000 principal value subordinated Notes. The payments will be made to shareholders and noteholders of record at the close of business on December 31, 2009 and will be payable on January 15, 2010.

The question for the noteholders will continue to be how the company will pay the deferred interest in light of the fact that their credit facility, as of September 30, 2009 was around $53 million and without any cash on the asset side of their balance sheet. The equity in the company is negative $82 million at this date. At the September 2010 date is the expiration of the bank credit facility, which would be senior to the notes and secured by most of the company’s remaining assets.

The market, however, didn’t seem to care. Taiga equity went up 15 cents to 60 cents a share (so its market capitalization is roughly $19.5 million) and for noteholders, the market value went from 60 cents to a high of 92 cents, closing at 91 cents.

It appears that the market is applying a very rich valuation to the notes in response to this news. If I held notes, I would be dumping them if the market rate was 91 cents.

I suspect within a year there will be some sort of recapitalization of the company’s debt balance, and the issue for the noteholders will be one of recovery, rather than yield.

Just an item of disclosure; I have never had a position (equity or debt) in Taiga Building Products. They are interesting to track, considering that they are a (relatively) local company to where I live and wish their business the best of luck in slaughtering their debt issues with a minimum of pain for everybody involved.

Taiga Building Products notes

I was doing some research on Taiga Building Products subordinated notes (TBL.NT, coupon 14%, due September 2020). The amount outstanding is $129 million face value. They are trading around 49 cents on the dollar so this is obviously in the distressed debt category – the yield to maturity calculation is an irrelevant figure (32%). The debt traded as low as 17 cents (if it did so today, the yield to maturity would be 103%). Yield to maturity is a misleading figure because it assumes coupons can be reinvested at a rate that is at the YTM. This will obviously not be the case.

In early 2008 the notes were trading very close to par value. Around October 2008 they went below 90 cents and never came back.

The first thing that struck out at me is that any company willing to shell out debt at 14% is a high credit risk. They issued the notes in September 2005.

The equity is around 41 cents, at 32.4 million shares outstanding this is a market capitalization of $13.3 million. This would rule out any debt-for-equity swaps, at least outside the context of bankruptcy proceedings.

The other salient detail is that they deferred interest payments up until September 1, 2010. This is also conveniently the date where their revolving credit facility ($53 million) becomes due. This essentially means that the credit facility gets paid off first (as it is secured by various assets of the company) and then the noteholders will get the second stab at the company.

Looking at their financials, Taiga is a profitable company, but they are not generating net income nearly as quickly as they need to in order to pay off the debt by September 2010. They generated about $11 million in free cash flow for the first 6 months of their fiscal year, but this will likely moderate for the rest of the fiscal year. Their balance sheet is in rough shape, with equity at negative 82 million and a significant chunk of debt due in less than a year. If I was a creditor to Taiga I would be somewhat concerned as the September 2010 debt payment date comes closer.

The value of the notes strongly depends on whether they can refinance their credit facility. Presumably the company would be in better financial shape if they paid off their 14% notes and refinanced the amount for a lower rate of interest.

That said, the market right now is not going to let the company do that.

It is essentially a gamble to decide whether Taiga will be able to refinance. My bet is that they will not be able to without giving some sort of concession on the interest rate, plus an equity stake in the company. It will be very expensive for shareholders and the company in general. It is clear that Taiga can be a sustainably profitable company, but it has simply taken on too much debt – my unprofessional estimation would be that it needs to go down to about half of existing levels.

As such, I wouldn’t touch the notes at current values.