December Posts Year's Largest Decline In Worldwide Corporate Credit Quality

Includes: EVEP-OLD
by: Donald van Deventer

The Kamakura Troubled Company Index increased by 1.19% to 8.89% in December.  The index measures the percentage  of worldwide public firms with default probabilities over 1%.

At this level, the index is at the 73rd percentile of the period 1990 to 2017, with 100 indicating "best" conditions.

On the long end of the credit spectrum, however, the outlook has actually improved.  Kamakura's expected 10-year cumulative default rate for all rated firms fell 1.20% to 12.73%.

The Kamakura Troubled Company index ended December at 8.89%, an increase of 1.19% from the previous month. The index reflects the percentage of 39,000 public firms with a default probability of over 1%. An increase in the index reflects declining credit quality, while a decrease reflects improving credit quality.

At the close of December, the percentage of companies with default probabilities between 1% and 5% was 7.26% - an increase of 0.82% over the previous month. The percentage with default probabilities between 5% and 10% was 1.19%, an increase of 0.26%. Those with a default percentage between 10% and 20% amounted to 0.34% of the total, up 0.06%, and those with default probabilities over 20% were 0.10%, up 0.05% from last month. Volatility increased during the month, with the index ranging from 7.54% on December 1 to 8.90% on December 27.

At 8.89%, the troubled company index declined to the 73rd percentile of historical credit quality as measured since 1990. Among the 10 riskiest-rated firms listed in December, seven are in the United States, with one each in Australia, Singapore, and the UK. EV Energy Partners, L.P. (EVEP-OLD) remained the riskiest global company, with a one-year Kamakura Default Probability (“KDP”) of 23.05%. In December there were five defaults in Kamakura’s coverage universe.

The Kamakura expected 10-year cumulative default rate for all rated companies worldwide improved by 1.23% to 12.73% at the end of the month. That’s well below the 13.33% experienced in September 2008.

“As we return from the holidays in the U.S., the two biggest water-cooler questions will be who will win the college football national championship and who will be the first retailer to fail in the new year,” said Martin Zorn, President and Chief Operating Officer for Kamakura Corporation.

“Three of the riskiest global companies are either retailers themselves or are tied to consumer brands. Risks to the retail sector have surpassed levels reached during the Great Recession. The issues are more complex than brick-and-mortar versus e-commerce. While some physical stores are barely hanging on, others have adapted and are thriving in the online world.

“Another factor to consider is retail real estate. Certainly, American shopping centers are overbuilt, but the job of the credit manager is to discern which ones are at risk and which can continue to thrive. Home Depot ended the year as the least-risky retailer on our list.

“Looking forward. I expect the U.S. economy to expand, credit conditions in the Eurozone to continue to improve, and Japanese inflation to show signs of life. In Asia, I expect mixed results in manufacturing, with production remaining stable in China, weakening in Korea, and expanding in Taiwan. Emerging markets must be considered on a country-by-country basis. In the short run, credit risks will remain localized.

“ Here’s wishing everyone the best for the new year.”

About the Troubled Company Index

The Kamakura troubled company index measures the percentage of 39,000 public firms in 68 countries that have an annualized one- month default risk of over one percent. The average index value since January, 1990 is 14.55%. Since November 2015, the Kamakura index has used the annualized one-month default probability produced by the KRIS version 6.0 Jarrow-Chava reduced form default probability model, a formula that bases default predictions on a sophisticated combination of financial ratios, stock price history, and macro-economic factors.

The KRIS version 6.0 models were developed using a data base of more than 2.2 million observations and more than 2,600 corporate failures. A complete technical guide, including full model test results and parameters, is provided to subscribers. The KRIS service also includes a wide array of other default probability models that can be seamlessly loaded into Kamakura’s state-of-the-art enterprise risk management software engine, the Kamakura Risk Manager. Available models include the non-public-firm default model, the commercial real estate model, the U.S. bank model, and the sovereign model. Related data includes credit default swap trading volume by reference name, market implied credit spreads, and prices on all traded corporate bonds traded in the U.S. market. Macro factor parameter subscriptions include Heath, Jarrow, and Morton term structure models for government securities in the U.S., Germany, the UK, Canada, Spain, Sweden, Australia, Japan, Thailand, and Singapore. All parameters are derived in a no-arbitrage manner consistent with seminal papers by Heath, Jarrow, and Morton, as well as Amin and Jarrow. A KRIS Macro Factor Scenario Service subscription includes both risk-neutral and “real world” empirical scenarios for interest rates and macro factors.

The version 6.0 model was estimated over the period from 1990 to May, 2014, and includes the insights of the entirety of the recent credit crisis. The 68 countries currently covered by the index are: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Hong Kong, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Nigeria, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the UK, the U.S., and Vietnam.

Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

Editor's Note: This article covers one or more microcap stocks. Please be aware of the risks associated with these stocks.