Tag Archives: bankruptcy

Hertz Symbolizes The Complete Corruption Of The Stock Market

“No one ever loses equity in a bankruptcy case,” U.S. Bankruptcy Judge David Jones said during a status conference in the J.C. Penney case last month. “Equity gets lost long before the case is filed.”

Hertz filed Chapter 11 under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code after the market closed on May 22nd. The filing was well telegraphed. The next day the stock took a cliff dive down to 40 cents from the previous day’s close at $2.84. Below 50 cents is about where the stock of bankrupt company should trade, especially when the senior secured debt outstanding exceeds the value of a company’s assets.

But don’t tell that to the new breed of retail daytrader, who has rediscovered the “art” of chasing insanely overvalued stocks, most of which will eventually go out of business. Most if not all of the current batch of daytrading geniuses were not around during the dot.com boom/bust:

Away from hedge fund computer algorithms set up by market professionals to take advantage of High Frequency Trading technology (HFT), “day trading” and “call options” are the beacons of inexperienced retail traders who have very little understanding of the risks involved in trading the markets. The fact that large numbers of newly minted traders have searched on the term “call options” reflects their relative market ignorance.  It’s been estimated that 90% of all retail daytraders were wiped out in the dot.com bust, which also took down Jim Cramer’s hedge fund.

Hertz has $15 billion of  senior secured debt collateralized by its fleet and $4 billion unsecured subordinated debt. The book value of Hertz’s fleet is $14 billion. With the crash in used car prices, the fleet is likely worth 10-20% less – at least – than the value carried on the books. This means the subordinated debt and shares are worthless. The sub debt was trading at 40 cents on the dollar late last week.  Yet Hertz’s stock traded close to $900 million market cap on June 8th.

In the best case, if Hertz re-organizes the secured debt will get 90% of the new equity and the sub debt will get 10%. The shares will be canceled and the shareholders will be tossed some gratuitous deep out of the money warrants. And yet, the market cap of the equity traded as high as $887 million this past Monday.

The worst case for Hertz is a liquidation, in which case the senior secured debt be paid out while the sub debt and equity are bageled.  Even the lawyer for Hertz at the court hearing admitted that Hertz’s value had “disconnected from the fundamentals.”

The stock deal is an “at-the-market” offering, meaning the underwriter (Jefferies) will dump shares into the market when the Robinhood Einsteins bid the shares higher. The only hurdle preventing Jefferies from unloading as many shares as possible until the stock approaches zero is a provision that prevents shares under this offering from being sold below $1.  Said provision can be changed easily with written consent from parties to the agreement.

Any funds raised will either be used to pay for Hertz’s legal and operating costs or it will be distributed to bondholders. This stock deal epitomizes the degree to which the stock market is completely corrupted.

I was not surprised the bankruptcy court judge and the SEC signed off on the deal. Once upon a time in America bankruptcy judges and the SEC did their job as public servants by looking after the interests of the public – in this case unsophisticated retail investors who didn’t have a brokerage account 6 months ago.  But the three branches of Government in this country have morphed into a portal by which the wealthy and powerful elite are sucking as much wealth from the public as possible before the system collapses, while compensating politicians, judges and lawyers well for their help.

Hertz and its lawyers admit that the Hertz shares will more than likely end up worthless. Jefferies, the broker/agent for the sale of the shares, will receive 3% of the proceeds. Jefferies unsavory and corrupt nature dates back to the Drexel era, when Boyd Jefferies was nailed for colluding with Ivan Boesky for multiple SEC violations.

This entire stock bubble enabled by the Fed’s flood of printed money into the financial system is little more than a money transfer mechanism from the public to the Wall Street banks, corporate CEO’s, private equity funds and other sundry beneficiaries (unicorn founders/employees, law firms, lobbyists, etc).

Hertz reflects the degree to which entire U.S. economic and financial system has deteriorated into a free-for-all for the wolves – foaming at the mouth – who are in a position to take advantage of this environment.  Note to Robinhood traders:  that’s not you.

I said over 15 years ago that the Fed would eventually print enough money to enable the elitists to sweep every last crumb of the public’s money off the table into their own pockets before allowing the system to collapse. We may be on that final stretch – gradually then suddenly – where we are entering the “suddenly” moment…

“…when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you–when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice–you may know that your society is doomed.” – Francisco’s “Money Speech,” “Atlas Shrugged.”

Put A Fork In Tesla – It’s Done

Tesla has been “done” for awhile but many of the Wall Street and investor “uber” bulls are finally starting to see this reality.  Amusingly, Wedbush’s Dan Ives issued a report in which he lowered his price target on Tesla stock from $270 to $235.   He refers to Tesla’s situation as a “code red situation.”  Quite frankly, a “code red situation” with regard to a company and its stock price should be regarded as, “sell your shares if you’re long and get out of the way.”

How someone with the credentials to occupy a stock analyst’s seat at a stock brokerage – even if it is just Wedbush, a retail pump and dump mill – can truly believe that Tesla stock is worth the $40 billion market cap at $230/share is truly mind-blowing.  As an example, consider just a basic valuation metric.  The average automotive car OEM trades at an enterprise to revenue ratio of 0.2x revenues.  At the high-end Toyota trades at 0.6x revenues. That’s because Toyota sports a 7.5% operating margin.  Tesla’s market cap plus debt is 2.6x revenues, or 13x greater than the industry mean.

It would be useful to use other valuation metrics but Tesla does not generate any profits beyond its highly suspicious gross profit as shown in its SEC filings. It would also be useful to know if Dan Ives owns any Tesla shares. Does he really put his money where is mouth is?

That aside, Tesla shares are going to zero. Tesla stock broke down last week, closing at its lowest price since December 21, 2016. The stock is down $44 (17.5%) since May 6th, when it closed at $255 after completing the stock/convertible deal. It’s down 43% from its $370 close after the “funding secured” incident (August 8, 2018). Today the shares traded as low as $195 before a dead-cat short-cover bounce that has lifted the shares back over $200.

Tesla has likely entered into an irreversible death spiral. The only question at this point is how long it will take for the stock to head below $10 and how long the Company can stay solvent. There are scattered reports that the latest price cuts have stimulated a brief increase in sales of the Model S and X, but nothing has been verified. To be sure, sales of the Model 3 have fallen off a cliff in Europe and China, as an increasing number of potential buyers are made aware of the poor quality and follow-up service of this vehicle.

At TSLA’s current cash-burn rate, it won’t make it until the end of the year without a sales turnaround miracle on par with Moses seeing God in a burning bush. I doubt the Company will ever be able to raise money again. The stock does not have value as an acquisition because I highly doubt any potential acquirer would pay an amount that would cover Tesla’s debt load plus other fixed obligations.

In my 34+ years of experience in the financial markets, I’ve witnessed several Pied Piper types who have led their faithful  off the cliff.  Elon Musk for my money is the greatest purveyor of cult of personality that I’ve observed in my lifetime.  I don’t know how else to explain, at least for myself, how so many seemingly intelligent people continue to support Musk’s glaringly indisputable fraud.

The Collateral Grab Begins As Tesla Burns Through Cash

Tesla bank creditors have forced the Company to add its Fremont manufacturing factory to the pool of assets which secure Tesla’s $1.8 billion credit facility. The cover story is that the banks “suggested” that Tesla add the additional collateral to support the asset base underlying the bank. However, that’s unmitigated propaganda.

Banks have access to the inside books at companies to which they lend. In this regard, bank creditors have valuable insight to the actual cash flows in and out of a borrower. Anyone who has dabbled professionally in the world of credit, especially junk credit, will recognize this as the beginning of the end for Tesla. This is a move by the bank lenders to grab title to Tesla’s most valuable assets. Soon there will be a scramble to tie anything not already pledged.

The junk bond investors are totally screwed now. Not that we have any idea of the true “next best use” of Tesla’s primary assets. But by the time the liquidation of Tesla begins there will be a flood of EV’s on the market which means there will likely not be much demand from a company looking to use Tesla’s manufacturing facilities to produce even more EVs. In fact, its seems at this point that Tesla’s production process has major flaws, which means the facilities require a large infusion of capital to bring Tesla’s facility up to an acceptable standard of production quality. They may choose to bring in process engineering expertise or new technology and software from ICE Process Management to bring their facilities up to standard.

Perhaps the next best use in a place like Fremont is to convert the manufacturing facility into a homeless shelter. But that won’t help the banks.

This is to say that, intrinsically, the junk bonds are worth zero. The assets are tied by the banks and likely worth less than that the value of the debt that sits above the junk bonds in the pecking order. The bondholders have no prayer of ever receiving their principal back from cash flow. This means that the stock is intrinsically worth zero as well.

I guess the irony in this situation is that Deutsche Bank, of all banks, is the lead creditor. Talk about letting the inmates run the asylum…this also means, of course, that $10’s of billions in credit default swaps are likely connected to the credit facility as well as the junk bonds. As is, Deutsche Bank is radioactive. Add Tesla to that mix and the recipe for financial nuclear explosion has been created.

“The System Will Have To Collapse”

The public pension fund system is approaching apocalypse.  Earlier this week teachers who are part of the Colorado public pension system (PERA) staged a walk-out protest over proposed changes to the plan, including raising the percentage contribution to the fund by current payees and raising the retirement age.   PERA backed off but ignoring the obvious problem will not make it go away.

Every public pension fund in the country is catastrophically underfunded, especially if strict mark-to-market of the illiquid assets were applied. Illinois has been playing funding games for a few years to keep its pension fund solvent.  In Kentucky, where the public pension fund is on the verge of collapse, teachers are demanding a State bailout.

If the stock market were sustain a extended decline of more than 10% – “extended” meaning several months in which the stock market falls more than 10% – every public pension in the U.S. would collapse.  This is based on an in-depth study conducted by a good friend of mine who works at a public pension fund.  He has access to better data than “outsiders” and I know his work to be meticulous.   Please note that the three big market declines since August 2015 were stopped at a 10% draw-down followed by big moves higher.  The current draw-down was stopped at 10% but subsequent outcome is to be determined. My friend and I are not the only ones who understand this:

The next phase of public pension reform will likely be touched off by a stock market decline  that creates the real possibility of at least one state fund running out of cash within a couple of years. – Bloomberg

I know a teacher in Denver who left her job that was connected to PERA in order to take a lump-sum payout rather than risk waiting until she retired to bankrupt pension plan. She took a job in the Denver school system, which is not part of the PERA system. She’s actually thinking about teaching in Central America, where there’s high demand for English-speaking teachers and the pay relative to the cost-of-living is much higher:

“Teaching sucks right now.  Teachers are underpaid for the work we’re doing.  After all of these years, I’m making about $60,000. That’s BS! I have a masters. Truthfully, the classroom is burning me out right now. The f#cked up world is spilling into kids’ lives. They’re largely defiant and off-track. I don’t have the energy to try to streamline whole classrooms.”   In reference to the pension system: “When the mother f#cking-f#ck is any of this going to be corrected?!?! I am beyond mad.  Ecuador has become an option, because this country is beyond f#cked up.”

Unfortunately, I was compelled to answer with the truth – a truth she already knows:  “It won’t be corrected. The system will have to collapse and then who knows what will happen. Criminals run everything now and the people who are supposed to enforce Rule of Law are well paid to look the other way. This has been building for at least 2 decades. It doesn’t help when the President is caught shoving a cigar up a staff interns vagina and then a joke is made of it in Congress. “Is oral sex, sex?” Answer: “it depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is,’ is.”

Now the corruption and fraud is out in the open and there’s nothing that can be done about it. The system will have collapse – its the final solution.

Tesla’s Irreversible Death Spiral Fait Accompli

The inevitable is finally starting to unfold. The downgrade to triple-C by Moody’s came as a surprise, at least to me. Historically Moody’s has been the last to downgrade collapsing companies. The most famous was its failure to downgrade Enron until about a week before Enron folded. Perhaps this time around it decided to get out in front of the obvious.

Tesla’s continued existence, despite obvious operational and financial problems that were growing in scale by the week, was enabled by the most lascivious monetary policy in U.S. Central Bank history. For me the coup de grace was the $1.5 billion junk bond deal floated last summer. It was emblematic of rookie money managers, unsupervised children in the sandbox, shoveling other people’s money into a cash-burning furnace.

Most managers running retail and pension money have no idea what a triple-hook rating means for any company with massive cash flow deficits operating in a financial environment in which the Fed is not printing trillions of dollars that can be recycled into bad ideas.

Even without the nearly $10 billion in debt on top of several billion in negative free cash flow, TSLA has billions in off-balance-sheet liabilities that don’t seem to exist as long as the Fed is injecting free cash into the financial system for inexperienced money managers to abuse.

All of that changes with a falling stock market and a triple-C credit rating. Now the obvious operational impossibilities and questionably fraudulent projections by Elon Musk will become quite relevant. If those don’t sink the ship, perhaps the SEC investigations, the ones that Musk forgot to disclose, will put an end to Tesla’s Waterloo. Unless the Fed reverses course and re-implements ZIRP and money printing, it will be next impossible for Tesla to raise the several billion it will need to keep its cancer-infested rodent moving its legs on the gerbil-wheel.

If you are invested in TRowe and Fidelity funds with large exposure to Tesla, I highly recommend selling them. At this point the only prayer the managers running those funds have is to throw more of other-people’s-money into Tesla’s furnace and pray for the Second Coming to save them.

Tesla is going to collapse. The collapse will likely occur in the next 12 months unless there’s some form of exogenous intervention. I doubt the Easter Bunny will deliver that sort of help this weekend. Moody’s “bold” downgrade to triple-C has sealed the fate.

Banco Espirito Santo Holding Company Takes A Dirt Nap – Files BK

Please note how this news was not reported until late in the afternoon EST time and well after all the markets around the world were closed for the weekend except  the NYSE.  It would have definitely rained hard on the European markets if the news were released during those market hourse:   BES Files BK

The Wall Street Journal reported it at 3:28 p.m. EST.

Interestingly, it would seem that the ratings were given a heads up yesterday, as S&P and Moody’s “coincidentally” downgraded the credit ratings a day ahead of the filing:   BES credit downgrade.

My only question is:  “Who holds the credit default swaps, baby?!”   Better check your bond mutual fund SEC filings…