The board of Cracker Barrel Old Country Store has voted to renew the company's $25 million stock repurchase plan. Under the previous plan, which was for the same time and launched a year ago, the Lebanon-based restaurant and retail company didn't buy back any shares. (In fiscal 2014, it repurchased $12.5 million worth of stock.)
The $25 million set aside one more time would amount to less than 1 percent of the market value of Cracker Barrel (Ticker: CBRL), which is still up slightly year to date despite sliding from $160 in July to $143 and change Monday.
Moody's Investors Service analyst Dean Diaz has lifted his rating on the debt of HCA Holdings and its affiliates to Ba2 from Ba3. The move lifts HCA's paper to within just a few notches of being labeled medium-grade and not speculative. Diaz noted that HCA's leaders have done a good job positioning the company to benefit from the evolving health care landscape, even if the bad-debt benefits of reform are fading fast.
The rating is also supported by Moody's belief that HCA will remain disciplined with respect to debt financed shareholder initiatives given the company's publicly disclosed leverage and liquidity targets and the continued decline in the ownership and influence of its private equity sponsors. However, Moody's expects that the company will continue to return capital to shareholders through share repurchases in lieu of debt repayment.
Corrections Corp. of America executives plan to raise nearly $250 million in seven-year debt and plan to use that money to retire almost half of the $563 million they have outstanding on their revolving credit line, which matures in mid-2020. No word yet on the interest CCA will pay on the new notes, but here's the prospectus and here's what Fitch Ratings has to say about CCA's plans. Nashville-based CCA (Ticker: CXW) has about $1.2 billion in total debt outstanding.
Share of Delek US Holdings couldn't escape the market gyrations of the past month, when they fell more than 15 percent (Ticker: DK) to below $30. That spurred the board of the Brentwood-based energy company to kick into high gear its stock buyback program. In a Wednesday update to their investor presentation, the company's leaders say they have since Aug. 19 spent almost $21 million on their own shares. That amounts to 1 percent of the company's market value as of Aug. 18, when the stock closed at $35.40. On Thursday, they were up more than 4 percent to about $31.
Moody's Investors Service has cut its overall debt rating for Noranda Aluminum Holding to Caa1 from B3 — that translates to "poor and subject to very high credit risk" from "speculative and high risk" — and changed its outlook for the Franklin-based company to negative from stable. Analysts Carol Cowan and Brian Oak write that Noranda will see prices for its products continue to fall for the next several quarters even as some of its operating costs climb. They say there are a lot of hurdles to overcome for Noranda and don't expect to revisit their rating for at least a year.
The negative outlook incorporates our expectation that metrics will deteriorate further in the second half of 2015 and into 2016 as the company's operating results are impacted by the falling aluminum prices and premiums. It also captures the possibility that, given the weak market fundamentals, aluminum pricing will remain suppressed over the intermediate term. The outlook also reflects the uncertainty that Noranda is able to successfully improve the reliability of its smelter operations, achieve its stated cost objectives, and complete its remaining capital projects while maintaining adequate liquidity.
The directors of Ryman Hospitality Properties have voted to set up a share repurchase program for up to $100 million. The plan, which will expire at the end of 2016, will use available cash and borrowings under Ryman’s revolving credit line. The company is not required to buy a particular amount of stock.
Chairman and CEO Colin Reed said the buyback is “part of a capital allocation strategy that we believe is in the best interest of our shareholders and our business. We believe using capital to repurchase our shares at appropriate prices represents a favorable strategic use of capital.”
Shares of Ryman (Ticker: RHP) fell about 1 percent Thursday — before the buyback news — to $52.16. So far in 2015, they’re down slightly.
Executives at Nashville-based Emdeon say they plan to issue $250 million of debt to help fund their planned $910 million acquisition of Altegra Health. The six-year notes are being marketed via a private offering. Florida-based Altegra markets analytics and risk management services to insurers and in the past 12 months rang up adjusted EBITDA of $59 million on revenues of $212 million. Adding it to Emdeon will grow the company's annual sales to $1.6 billion.
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