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Recession over, employers hiring, Any Bankruptcy candidates left???



April 06, 2010 – Comments (11) | RELATED TICKERS: ZLC.DL , BGPIQ.DL , MPG.DL2

I'm not so sure that the world is all rosy.  The farms near me don't smell terribly rosy after all the rain we've been having.  I still know plenty of unemployed neighbors and the foreclosure market is rolling along, (although it's also spawning some jobs.....maintaining the empty houses).  All in all though, things are better in the markets and credit seems to be loser. Those companies in financial trouble are able to spin off some assets when needed, roll out more stock, reconfigure debt, and some even are getting new orders and ramping back up.   Are there any bankruptcy candidates lurking out there that are still pickable in CAPS??? ($100 Million Market Cap and $1.50 Share price)??

There have been MANY blogs and analysts predicting this is a junk rally. Overall, I've gotten my butt kicked by downthumbing some equities whose fundamentals just seem BAD...I mean worse than the farm next door.  Apparently Mr. Market isn't concerned. The thought of grabbing a stock at $2.00 that was $20 three years ago just leaves the speculator salivating as the market trends upward and running like they are on fire on a slight downturn.

I think if I could "go back" and do it over again, the lesson I'd like to take with me is that NO banks, creditors, lien holders, etc. want to take over a business that is going belly-up on paper even if it means settling for pennies on the dollar to help them reorg.

Even more interesting is that several of the companies who went bankrupt officially are far stronger than ever.  GGP has reorg'd and now has suiters at $17+ per share. Pilgrim's Pride files for bankruptcy and soars from $1.70 to $11.00 per share.  Many equities that dived to sub-$1 have risen 10 to 20 fold after fears of bankruptcy subsided.

While I wish NO company ill-will and a bankruptcy doesn't mean the end, (in some cases it could mean a fresh start) are some that are still on my list of fundamentally "troubled" that are pickable in CAPS.   In no particular order:

1. ZALES,  ZLC currently $2.93 is an example of a company that is trading well below book value due to assets.  The trick to grading a company trading below book value is to determine if the "books" are accurate. Some REIT's are well below book value, but what is the true value of the assets.  Some Banks are below book value, but what is their exposure to bad mortgages.  IN the case of Zales, I think they are over extended with excessive store counts.  UltraLong pointed out in my recent blog   that they've been turning over CEO's excessively and having trouble with credit. Notably CITI and thier charge cards and vendors requiring cash upfront. Zale's competitors are capitalizing and losing market share will greatly compound their issues.

I don't think Zales is a BK candidate. I don't think any of their creditors wants the business. They could sell down inventory and close some stores. They had better do something soon, but while they are fundamentally challenged, I DON'T put them in the BK slot. If they do, then they would be the type of business I might try buying on the collapse and trying to ride back up like a GGP or Pilgrim's Pride.

2. Borders (BGP) Soared 40% on earnings with some optimism on Christmas sales, debt refinancing and eBook sales.  I'd put Borders on a short watch list of equities that needs some HELP or a reorg. I could see Borders doing a Ch. 11 reorg.   Borders ramped their inventory for Christmas and with the accounts payable high, books losing favor, and their competitors having a better footprint for eBooks, I see little relief for them in the near future.  I would put Borders on a BK watch list.  Their inventory puts them NO WHERE near BOOK VALUE.  (Sorry, couldn't resist).

3.  Maguire Properts (MPG) is up 50% since I called them down. Proving yet again that downthumbs on sub-$5 equities can HURT here on Caps.  The multiplier effect can make a downthumb from low levels very RED.  Some here say that downthumbing is easier points than upthumbing.  I definitely disagree.  A downthumb gone wrong is potentially hundreds of negative points, one that goes right is no more than 100 plus the gain in the S&P over the time period.

In my opinion, Maguire would be Bankrupt already, but for their putting their properties under separate mortgages. This has allowed them to selectively default or sell distressed ones without the entire company being liable.  Lost $5.48 per share fourth quarter, including $290 Million on properties it defaulted on last year. It stopped paying on six Southern California properties that it owes $888 Million on. Debt load is down to $3.5 Billion from $5 Billion a year ago. Guess that happens when you default on property and don't own it anymore, nor did you get any money from it. The six Southern California properties are for sale...wonder if they are "underwater"...may as well be!  The company founder is offering to buy three of them by taking over mortgage payments. $200 Million of cash on hand, (after selling two properties) isn't likely to go very far.

The 50% run-up the last few weeks would pretty much show that I don't have a clue what I'm talking about.  But Maguire is running out of GAS  (MPG, get it?). 

4.  Hamni Financial Corp, (HAFC) is on my list as a distressed bank.   As per my comment on Zales and book value, Hamni has a lot of questionable loans it keeps allocating funds for.  Hamni has been openly shopping themselves out, predominantly to Korean banks that fit it's core clientele. Hanmi received a letter on November 5th that regulators had concerns over their loan portfolio and capitalization. While it's possible the threat may have sent Hanmi below it's true value if the market stabilizes, it still appears to be a high risk investment. It's almost impossible to value banks, and Hanmi is below book value. Overall, however, I don't see this as a safe investment.

Mr. Market is on a tear.  DragonLZ is racking up hundreds of points a day while some of my downthumbs are chewing hundreds from my point total.  I don't know where the speculator's rally is going, but I can't resist a good downthumb.  Can anyone point me at any other tempting targets for me to bloody my thumb over.   Tell me who and why you nominate a pickable equity for the bankruptcy charm of 2010.

Now those who hold any of the above or any submitted near and dear to your hearts, sorry.  This is a long term play.  No daily egging me with excess Pilgrim Pride Easter eggs on multi-percent updays for the candidates.   But I do expect to learn something from this exercise that I can use the next recession...which may not be that far away if the printing presses keep working overtime.


The Sky Isn't Falling today....but some equities are in more trouble than others!  And what's with all the rain lately?! 

11 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On April 06, 2010 at 8:47 PM, ChrisGraley (28.67) wrote:















Let me know if you want more.

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#2) On April 06, 2010 at 9:20 PM, TSIF (99.97) wrote:

Thanks Chris, some of those definitely fell on my list of poor fundamentals being propped up, but stakeholders don't want to take over!   Several have been "written off" for dead several times.  HGSI is an interesting choice. Certainly not worth $5.5B, but BK?! :)

I'll have to check on a few others on the list.


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#3) On April 06, 2010 at 11:26 PM, dragonLZ (75.26) wrote:

TSIF, I wish I could help you with this, but I can't come up with any names.

Not because there are no bankruptcy candidates left, but because I'm not familliar with any of them.

I usually like to stay away from companies associated with high risk...

Good Luck!   :)

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#4) On April 07, 2010 at 8:50 AM, TSIF (99.97) wrote:

Thanks Dragon, I usually don't get a chuckle before I get my coffee!  I'll put TNDM on your list of BK Candidates based on your other blog comment!  :)

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#5) On April 07, 2010 at 9:10 AM, ChrisGraley (28.67) wrote:

That's some funny stuff dragonLZ.

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#6) On April 07, 2010 at 11:52 AM, TSIF (99.97) wrote:

Note to self:  consider PALM and RAD.  Both might be buyout candidates, but at what if any premium?

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#7) On April 07, 2010 at 12:49 PM, JakilaTheHun (99.91) wrote:

While some of these companies may potentially face bankruptcy, or in the case of Hanmi, FDIC closure --- I don't think it necessarily follows that they are good red thumb or short targets. 

I've analyzed three of these companies (ZLC, HAFC, and BGP).  I wouldn't red thumb any of them at the current prices.

ZLC is in bad shape, but risk-reward is very unfavorable.  Sure, there's probably about a 40% chance they go BK, but what if they don't?  You only gain 100% on a successful red thumb call and you can lose a good 200% - 500% on an unsuccessful one.

BGP is an even riskier red thumb  They've returned to profitability and even though they are significant risks for them still; once again, you're looking at red thumb gains of 100% and losses with 500% potential.

I follow HAFC because I'm long on NARA for a fund I manage.  I'm not sure that HAFC's odds of survival are good, but I still wouldn't red thumb it.  If you really want to make a bearish bet on HAFC, go green (long) on NARA instead.  It's a much safer choice IMO and risk-reward is much more favorable on that end. 

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#8) On April 07, 2010 at 9:48 PM, TSIF (99.97) wrote:

Good advice Jakila.  I already shorted BGP and HAFC on caps. HAFC a long time ago before the "buy rumors" got rumbling. I've been trying to get out of my HAFC call for awhile now, but it eludes me.  Downthumbing any "real" equity that is sub-$5 is asking for trouble on CAPS.  Sometimes, I can't resist. I'm mostly fishing to see if my thoughts on BK have any merit. Few will actually occur no matter how dismal the company.  Am I missing any other examples. I thought of 3-4 more since I posted this. I may do another blog and flesh those out with the community.

Thanks again for the warning on risk/reward of downthumbs on low/cost equites. You've given it to me before and I've resisted MANY since then, but sometimes a guy just has to do what a guy has to do, my profile and my lessons learned aren't designed to get me to top player status.  It's educational, which means I have to make mistakes!!!  :)


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#9) On April 08, 2010 at 3:20 PM, dragonLZ (75.26) wrote:

TSIF, I finally found one for you (sorry, it's not CAPS pickable).

It is YRCW, the stock I'm 90+ points down in my CAPS portfolio.

As you know, at first YRCW worked just fine for me, but then it plunged 60+% in one day. After the big plunge, YRCW was a $1.32 stock, but then contiued to slide down all the way to $0.36.

However, YRCW is up 15% today and is now a $0.66 stock.

I know, I know...

I know, it doesn't really take much to move an almost dead garbage stock up 15% in a day, or 100% in a matter of weeks (speculators?), but based on my chart-eyeballing, it's looking like this 100% move has some legs (fits the pattern perfectly).

I'm bringing this stock up as I don't know anything about this stock, not even what was the news that brought this stock down 60+% in a day. But my chart-eyeballing is telling me to keep watching it.

Is it possible that this once left-for-dead stock can come back?

What do you know and/or what do you think?

I consider this another of my experiments. So far, I have no idea if my chart-eyeballing works on deathbed stocks, but hope to find out. 

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#10) On April 08, 2010 at 4:09 PM, TSIF (99.97) wrote:

When you hit that fine line near bankruptcy then you are a speculator play and not an investment. YRCW will lose business if it's customers think it may go BK.  IT is already receiving delisting notices if it's stock price doesn't improve.

Some companies who went BK had assets valued more than their debt so came out cleaner.  YRCW does not have assets. It's bondholders and banks that loaned it money need to determine if they want to weather things and hope for an improvement or to take what they can get before that little bit fads away.

I would bet that the bond/lien holders will hold another quarter. YRCW is hinting they might swing a profit, through cut rate pricing and cost cutting and improved weather.  If they do they will hit $1.00 or more.  Their long term prospects are not rosy, but speculators in the market may play this one up.

I think it can come back maybe as high as $1.50, but not to the former play it once was. 

Purely a speculators play, risk/reward, use money you don't mind losing and you might double it, or you might quarter it in the next six months.


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#11) On April 26, 2010 at 8:56 AM, dragonLZ (75.26) wrote:

And how about these two penny-stock regional banks?

CRBC, Citizens Banking Corporation, currently at $1.35

TSFG, South Financial Group, currently at $0.85

High risk, but I think both have potential as they fit my four-nine criteria.


These two are not as good as STSA and FBP, but I'm keeping an eye on them.

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