Junk Defaults Down in August

September 13, 2002 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The US junk bond default rate dipped to 9.11% in August from a revised 9.39% in July, Standard & Poor's said, in a fresh sign the end might be near for severe corporate credit woes.

According to a Reuters story, the 12-month junk bond default rate is expected to end the year between 8.5% and 9%, S&P said. The record high was 12.42 % in July 1991.

Yet everything is not rosy in the junk bond world, S&P admitted. Some 53 issuers, largely in media, entertainment and telecommunications, remain in a shaky position.

Those “weakest links,” with $46 billion of debt, are rated “triple-C,” S&P’s fourth-lowest grade, or lower and have a negative outlook or are on review for downgrade.

According to Reuters, S&P listed as weak issuers:

  • motion picture camera company Panavision
  • wireless service provider Leap Wireless International
  • magazine firm Ziff Davis Media
  • television station operator Granite Broadcasting

The number of “weakest links” is down from the year’s high of 59 in January, S&P said.

“The lower number of weakest links supports the declining default rates and serves as an indicator that a moderate deceleration of defaults will continue through the rest of 2002,” S&P said in a report.

The US junk bond default rate surged last year to 9.72% because of a weak economy and less plentiful debt.