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In January of last year I predicted (see Notable Bankruptcies of 2009: Q1) that “major” corporate bankruptcies in 2009 would challenge the 383 mark set in 2001 (the high-water mark after the dotcom bubble). I even suggested that it was possible that we could exceed 400 “major” corporate bankruptcies in 2009.

It looked good for awhile, …but what a difference a year makes!!

Although corporate bankruptcies in 2009 were the greatest since 2002, we finished well shy of my predicted mark, and the pace of corporate bankruptcies, in fact, decreased as the year progressed. According to, “major” filings reached 249 in 2009, more than 100 bankruptcies shy of my prediction.

As I mentioned in a previous post (see Notable Bankruptcies of 2009: Q3), the stylized fact that the pace of corporate bankruptcies decreased through Q2, Q3, and Q4 begs the question of whether the underlying cause was a structurally improved economy or the massive Fed/Treasury liquidity programs keeping weaker firms on artificial life support. My sense is that it had more to do with the latter than the former, but we will find out for certain once the Fed/Treasury start to unwind their extraordinary liquidity programs.

With that in mind, it is my expectation that corporate bankruptcy filings will increase in 2010, for a couple of reasons. First, bankruptcies are a lagging economic indicator. As with employment, bankruptcies typically peak well after the economic trough. As an example, although the dotcom bubble burst in March of 2000, bankruptcies did not peak until 2001, and were elevated into 2002. Second, if fundamentally weak companies are being propped up by the provision of credit/liquidity to an economy that cannot structurally support them, it is only a matter of time before bankruptcies begin to reflect the true underlying economic fundamentals.

So my baseline (over/under) call for 2010 stands at 300 corporate bankruptcies.

Anyhow, below you can find an updated list of what I see as the “noteworthy” corporate bankruptcies of 2009 (as reported by New additions since October appear in RED (please note that this is not an exhaustive list):

  • 1st Centennial Bancorp (Banking)
  • AbitibiBowater Inc. (ABWTQ.PK) (Paper)
  • Accuride Corporation (AURD.OB) (Trucking)
  • Adamar Inc. dba Tropicana Casino & Resort (Gambling)
  • Advanta Corp. (ADVNA) (Banking/Finance)
  • Altus Pharmaceuticals (ALTU) (Pharma)
  • American Community Newspapers Inc. & LLC (Newspapers)
  • ARG Enterprises, Inc. (Restaurants)
  • Aurora Oil & Gas Corporation (OTC:AUEGF) (Energy)
  • Aventine Renewable Energy Holdings, Inc. (AVR) (Energy)
  • BankUnited Financial Corporation (BKUNA) (Banking)
  • Barzel Industries, Inc. (Manufacturing)
  • Baseline Oil & Gas Corp. (Energy)
  • Bearingpoint, Inc. (OTC:BGPT) (Consulting)
  • BI-LO, LLC (Supermarkets)
  • Bruno’s Supermarkets, LLC (Supermarkets)
  • Butler International, Inc. (IT Services)
  • California Coastal Communities, Inc. (CALC) (Real Estate)
  • Cape Fear Bank Corporation (Banking)
  • Capital Corp of the West (Banking)
  • Capmark Financial (Banking)
  • CCS Medical, Inc. (Medical)
  • Champion Enterprises, Inc. (CHB) (Real Estate)
  • Charter Communications, Inc. (OTC:CHTRQ) (Telecom)
  • Chemtura Corporation (OTC:CEMJQ) (Chemicals)
  • Chrysler LLC (Automobiles)
  • CIB Marine Bancshares, Inc. (Banking)
  • CIT Group (NYSE:CIT) (Banking)
  • Citadel Broadcasting (OTC:CTDB) (Media)
  • Colonial BancGroup, Inc. (CNB) (Banking)
  • Cooperative Bankshares, Inc. (COOP) (Banking)
  • Cooper-Standard Holdings (Automobile)
  • Crescent Resources, LLC (Real Estate)
  • Cynergy Data, LLC (Banking)
  • deCODE Genetics, Inc. (DCGN) (Biotech)
  • Eddie Bauer Holdings, Inc. (EBHI) (Retail)
  • Edge Petroleum Corporation (Oil & Gas)
  • Ennis Homes, Inc. (Real Estate)
  • Extended Stay Inc. (Hotels)
  • Fairpoint Communications (NASDAQ:FRP) (Telecom)
  • Filene’s Basement, Inc. (Retail)
  • Finlay Enterprises, Inc. (FNLY) (Jewerly)
  • Fleetwood Enterprises, Inc. (FLE) (Recreational Vehicles)
  • Fortunoff Holdings, LLC (Retail)
  • Fountainbleu Las Vegas, LLC, (Hotels)
  • Freedom Communications Holdings, Inc. (Media)
  • Fulton Homes Corporation (Real Estate)
  • General Growth Properties, Inc. (GGWPQ.PK) (Real Estate)
  • General Motors Corporation (OTC:MTLQQ) (Automobiles)
  • G.I. Joe’s, Inc. (Retail)
  • Goody’s LLC (GDYS) (Retail)
  • Gottschalks Inc. (GOT) (Retail)
  • GSI Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:GSIG) (Semiconductors)
  • Guaranty Financial Group Inc. (GFG) (Banking)
  • Herbst Gaming, Inc. (Gambling)
  • Holley Performance Products, Inc. (Automotive)
  • ION Media Networks, Inc. (ION) (Television)
  • Idearc (OTC:IDARQ) (Publishing)
  • Imperial Capital Bancorp (Banking)
  • Irwin Financial Corporation (IFC) (Banking)
  • JL French Automotive Castings, Inc. (Automotive)
  • Journal Register Companies (JRC) (Newspapers)
  • Lazy Days RV Center, Inc. (Recreational Vehicles)
  • Lear Corporation (NYSE:LEA) (Automobile)
  • Lyondell Chemical Company (LYO) (Chemicals)
  • MagnaChip Semiconductor LLC (Semiconductors)
  • Magna Entertainment (MECA) (Gambling)
  • Majestic Star Casino, LLC (Gambling)
  • Masonite Corporation (Real Estate Manufacturing)
  • Metromedia International Group, Inc. (OTC:MTRM) (Media)
  • Midway Games, Inc. (MWY) (Entertainment Software)
  • Monaco Coach Corporation (MNC) (Recreational Vehicles)
  • Muzak Holdings LLC (Entertainment)
  • Nortel Networks, Inc. (OTCPK:NRTLQ) (Telecom)
  • NTK Holdings – Nortek, Inc. (Construction)
  • NutraCea (NTRZ.OB) (Health/Nutrition)
  • Oscient Pharmaceuticals Corporation (OSCI) (Pharma)
  • Pacific Energy (Oil & Gas)
  • Penn Traffic Company (Supermarkets)
  • Philadelphia Newspapers, LLC (Newspapers)
  • Proliance International, Inc. (Manufacturing)
  • RathGibson, Inc. (Manufacturing)
  • Reader’s Digest, Inc. (NASDAQ:RDA) (Media)
  • Recycled Paper Greetings, Inc. (Greeting Cards)
  • R.H. Donnelley Corporation (OTC:RHDC) (Marketing)
  • Ritz Camera Centers, Inc. (Retail)
  • Samsonite Company Stores, LLC (SAMC) (Retail)
  • Security Bank Corporation (Banking)
  • Shane Company (Jewelry)
  • Silicon Graphics, Inc. (SGID) (IT/Computing)
  • Silver State Bancorp (Banking)
  • Simmons Company (Bedding)
  • Six Flags, Inc. (NYSE:SIX) (Entertainment)
  • Smurfit-Stone Container Corporation (NYSE:SSCC) (Paper Manufacturing)
  • Source Interlink Companies, Inc. (SORC) (Marketing)
  • Southern Community Bancshares, Inc. (Banking)
  • Spectrum Brands (SPEB.OB) (Consumer Products)
  • Star Tribune Companies (Newspapers)
  • Station Casinos, Inc. (NYSE:STN) (Gambling)
  • Sun-Times Media Group, Inc. (OTC:SUTM) (Newspapers)
  • Tarragon Corporation (TARR) (Real Estate)
  • Team Financial, Inc. (Banking)
  • Temecula Valley Bancorp (OTC:TMCV) (Banking)
  • Teton Energy Corporation (Oil & Gas)
  • Thornburg Mortgage, Inc. (OTC:THMR) (Banking)
  • TLC Vision Corporation (TLCV) (Vision/Eye Care)
  • Trump Entertainment (TRMP) (Gambling)
  • UCBH Holdings (UCBH) (Banking)
  • U.S. Shipping Partners L.P. (Marine Transportation)
  • Velocity Express Corporation (VEXP) (Delivery)
  • Vineyard National Bancorp (VNBC) (Banking)
  • Visteon Corporation (NYSE:VC) (Auto Supplies)
  • Walking Company Holdings, Inc. (Footwear)
  • Wall Homes, Inc. (Real Estate)
  • WL Homes, LLC (Real Estate)
  • Young Broadcasting, Inc. (YBTVA) (Television)

In addition to “major” corporate bankruptcies (e.g., those firms with assets greater than $50M) tracked by Bankruptcydata, the U.S. government tracks all bankruptcy filings by type (e.g., Chapter 7, Chapter 11, Chapter 13). You can find detailed bankruptcy statistics at the U.S. Courts website. I will update the charts that I presented earlier in the year when the final 2009 numbers are released, which should be sometime in March (see Notable Bankruptcies of 2009: Q1).

Disclosure: No positions

Source: 116 Notable Corporate Bankruptcies of 2009