Forrester analyst Kristin Bentz thinks Hong Kong-based Evergrande Group could be headed toward some serious problems.
In a report issued Tuesday, Bentz—whose firm focused on Chinese consumer brands for three years—said that Evergrande appears to have missed $83 million worth of payments to suppliers and vendors earlier this month, and as a result, any credit default rating for Evergrande will likely be likely be put on a negative outlook for May, according to Bentz.
At this time, even if Evergrande fails to make its next two loan payments—April and May—there is a strong likelihood of default, she wrote, although she added that most of Evergrande’s debt is ‘senior secured bonds,’ so there would be a recovery of about half the face value.
“If Evergrande fails to make the April and May loan payments then it will likely have breached its debt covenants and will be subject to a default rating of CCC+ and selective default, indicating failure to meet financial covenants,” Bentz said.
Given these developments, Evergrande’s stock is down 15 percent since last Friday and has now fallen approximately 50 percent since early February.
Evergrande, which also owns a supermarket chain in China, offers its investors various investments and financial contracts across the gamut of companies, Bentz said. In 2011, the company purchased more than 380 mostly Chinese property development and hotel chains that ultimately turned out to be less profitable than projected.
Also, Evergrande has added to its debt load by purchasing a bank, Guangdong Evergrande Commercial and Investment Bank, in 2016.
Bentz noted that Evergrande continues to execute on its fiscal restructuring plan but admitted that while the business plan appears to be working, the company will have to address its capital expenditures. According to Bentz, Evergrande’s debt is ‘modest’ compared to traditional property developers in China.
In a statement, a spokesman for Evergrande said that the company’s liquidity position and financial position as well as the loan repayments made and incoming debt obligations have “not been adversely affected” as a result of the defaults.
“We are confident that Evergrande will restore its financial position and businesses that have been impacted by the insider trading case and will be able to maintain a profitable business going forward,” the statement read.
On March 20, China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) filed a lawsuit against seven of its employees, including a manager at Evergrande, for insider trading. The agency also accused Evergrande of violating Chinese capital controls and engaging in “massive” “illegal funding of risky activities” and urged them to improve its transparency.
On Thursday, Evergrande said it had reached a settlement with CSRC.
With less than a month remaining in the quarter, analysts are becoming increasingly concerned about Evergrande’s financial performance.
“The strategic initiatives taken by CFO Lee Hailing to refocus of the company continue to remain crucial as Evergrande seeks to improve its profitability, reduce its debt ratio and create a stable future,” Bentz wrote.
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