- TNK stock has been down more ~50% year to date. It trades at less than 3x earnings and this has shareholders calling for buybacks.
- However, management is paying down debt instead. They have to do because of lower cash flows in 2016 and 2017, as well as demanding debt maturity schedule.
Back in December 2015, Teekay Tankers (TNK) announced a $900 million refinancing, including a term loan and a revolver that are both due in 2021. I thought the deal was bullish for the stock, since it cleared out near term maturities and allows TNK to buy back stocks.
This is not the case. That deal did push out a lot of near term maturities, but a substantial amount remains. In addition, the new term loan actually has an onerous principal payment schedule.
The $525 million term loan matures in 2021 but demands principal amortization of $31.94 million per quarter for the first few quarter and $24.845 million per quarter thereafter. This amounts to $99-106 million of principal payment per year.
What’s more, a sizeable chunk from old loans remains. The annual report has a maturity schedule pro forma for the refinance. Backing out the January 2016 loans, and assuming the debt payment made during 1Q16 was toward near term maturities, the current debt schedule would look like the below.
The big question is the $215 million due 2017. To put that in context, TNK only generated $167 million of cash flows from operations for the entire 2015, and that’s with peak tanker rates! So far in 2016 we are already seeing lower tanker rates and lower cash flows.
More headwinds are coming in 2017. Tanker supplies will come on line second half of 2016 and through 2017. So rates in 2017 will likely be lower. In-charters will expire so TNK will be operating with a lower number of vessels.
So forget about TNK paying off the entire $215 million out of cash flow from operations. It will struggle to even pay the ~$106 million term loan scheduled principal in a weaker market. It will certainly have to refinance the rest of 2017 maturities; failure to do so means another round of equity raise, or even bankruptcy.
To entice lenders for the 2017 refinancing, TNK will need to demonstrate credit worthiness and deleverage in the near term. This explains management’s focus on deleveraging, why the company has not repurchased any shares despite the ostensibly low P/E ratio, and why an equity offering is still on the table.
So creditors will get most of the cash flows for now. This is not to say avoid the stock, but investors should recognize the credit situation, and be willing to hang on for a couple years for their big pay day.
Advice for Investors
Instead of pushing for buybacks, big boy activist investors can provide the refinancing themselves. Just to toss some ideas around, with $250 million of 10% senior notes, weighted average cost of debt would still be under 5%.
Even after the 2017 maturity is addressed, TNK will still face a demanding term loan amortization. But by late 2017, it should have shown progress in deleveraging and tanker rates should have stabilized. Management can then refinance the January 2016 loan into another with easier principal payment schedule, and finally release free cash flows to shareholders.
There is also a lesson here. P/E ratios and free cash flow yield (free cash flow divided by market capitalization) are meaningless measures for companies loaded with debt. “Free cash flow” is not really “free” in terms of using it to reward shareholder, especially if there are near term maturities/obligations that can’t be funded from operation.