Without raising Sears Holding Corp.’s corporate credit rating above the current “CCC-plus” status, Standard and Poor’s Ratings Services raised its view on two series of notes to “B-minus.”
Ratings in the “CCC” family are considered vulnerable and dependent on favorable business, financial and economic conditions to meet financial commitments. “B” ratings indicate vulnerability but with the capacity to meet financial commitments.
S&P raised, from “B-minus,” the ratings on Sears’ $1.25 billion second-lien notes and also elevated, from “CCC-plus,” ratings on Sears Roebuck Acceptance Corp.’s $327 million outstanding senior notes. The recovery rating on the former set of notes moved to “1” from “2” and on the latter from “2” to “4.”
The increases stemmed “primarily from an increase in our valuation of Sears’ real estate portfolio (the stores that Sears will continue to own after the Real Estate Investment Trust transaction closes) and our inclusion of the Kenmore, Craftsman and DieHard brands as additional sources of recovery value for Sears’ creditors,” S&P said.
Robert Shultz, credit analyst, said he believes that the company has sufficient liquidity to fund cash losses from the retail business into at least late 2016, “taking into account the proceeds Sears expects to realize from the pending REIT transaction.”
The outlook remains negative, reflecting S&P’s view that “weak operating performance will persist during 2015 and a turnaround depends on the company’s progress with its integrated retail strategy to reverse the lack of profitability and substantial cash use,” Shultz wrote in a note.