America’s Zombie Companies Have Racked Up $1.4 Trillion of Debt


Zombie apocalypse on wall street. Hundreds of big name companies wants american icons are now among the walking dead names like boeing carnival delta exxon macy's. They aren't making enough money to pay the interest. On the mountains of debt they feasted on during the pandemic. Nearly two hundred companies have joined the zombie ranked since march and their numbers are growing total debt obligations now nearly one point four trillion dollars. So is there any hope for the walking dead here guy. I mean what's interesting. Is that a lot of these names. They are names that we talk about trading on this show. So how should we start thinking about this before we get in the walking dead. I just want to point out. That's a great job by our crack. staff leading. With of course the cranberries zombie which is a bit of an obvious choice in the great delors. Oh reared who lost too soon. She was obviously the founder of the band wonderful vocalist. I might have gone a different direction. And maybe we could've played something like this for example. Melissa leo the crack staff is listening into the show. Why the zombies. No it's important to point out the folks at home. It's more important than actually trading our first topic in what is known as the block of the. It's not it's not more important. And i and we'll talk about the black and we'll talk about zombie companies because i think it's important and last night we mentioned macy's and you talked about one hundred dollars table. Then tim said might be the thousand dollar table. And i think collectively. We thought there was a real good chance that with test that nine fifty five level which was the june high and i think it got up to nine twenty five today on two or three times normal volume. Now's the time to be taking profits. A lotta shorts have been squeezed other companies that you mentioned delta for example. I think that's a completely different ballgame. But what i will say. This counterintuitive is. This may seem if the economy starts to get better. You would think this is good for these companies but that means interest rates economic higher. And that's going to cripple some of these companies. We talked about it last night. And i'm sure one of our guests coming out. We'll talk about that again. Tim how do you start thinking about macy's and that debt that they apparently can't service. I mean when i think about dombi i think about that thriller video and i know guys got that red leather jacket with all the zippers on it. So just just to be clear. I think when i think about those companies you just mentioned they're all they're all different in terms of their Potential to be proper zombies a great band by the way. But i think you know boeing not assam company You know it's not Boeing is a company that has the ability to raise debt. But more importantly yes. Boeing's business has been totally disrupted boeing. His burned through so much cast in the last year. And it will burn through some castro most of twenty-one but it will be free cash flow positive by twenty two in probably be neutral by the fourth quarter so calling them assam company. I think is absurd. Calling macy's zombie company is something that's at least a fair analysis although again macy's showed that free cash flow with something that they expect they're going to have in twenty twenty one two and a company that raised a lot of money To to at least be able to fight another day including having a three billion dollar asset back facility is something you don't do cartwheels over macy's position right now but the recovery there and i'm long so i've made this clear. I actually think there's more of a recovery story even though i don't think macy's gets better overnight. Delta relative to other airlines is not even close to his ambi- story dealt is actually going to start to make money towards the fourth quarter of next year and we're not talking about a normalized business. We're talking about a business where odyssey international comes under a lot of pressure. So i also just think that the fed and the role that the fed is playing here and the role that the fed will play just through talking About the bazooka in their pocket means a lot of these debt markets. Don't have a whole lot of an impact in the next six months To what people think they're gonna do. I really don't expect it so it doesn't matter that these companies zombie companies it doesn't matter that delta added twenty four billion dollars in debt since the pandemic started by baldwin. At what point do we start getting worried about that. Debt load and these companies guy made the point that if the economy gets better you would think that that'd be better for these companies that can make more money they can etc said sell more whatever they make but then interest rates go higher. So how do you weigh that. Yeah those are all interesting. Factors that keep into To keep in the front of your mind. And tim did a good job of laying out the differences of these companies. But speaking to your question right the commonality of all these of these companies that they have as you have looted to have added significant portions of the balance sheet this year and they're burning through cash at a rate and their revenues are down at rates that we just haven't seen we're talking about you know seven and a half billion dollars of cash burn and eighteen billion dollars of casper burn boeing's example seven and a half carnivals example. So you have this push pushing pull situation. What i will say is that you've seen across the board. All these companies put one thing. I right and that is runway. And so they've taken on this debts that they have enough cash to get them to their next stop in order for them to continue to be able to operate what we've seen is them trying to achieve operating leverage by reducing staff count. And that is what. I think the topic that we're kind of trying to speak to. Here's when you start slashing human capital when you stop investing in capital expenditures when you stop innovating that is what leads you to being somewhat of a dead zombie company even after you've getting on the other side of this debt service coverage ratio also something to keep in mind. You can't meet your interest. Can't meet your debt service coverage ratio. You got serious problems dan. Yeah i think bond would makes a great point there and just look at our auto industry over the last ten years and obviously gm came out of bankruptcy ten years and wiped out a lot of that debt but they had a huge government interests that was really carried along and probably hurt them a lot of different ways as far as innovation and the way the bhawan just described it. It's clearly hurt for a lot of ways and look at the auto companies are doing really well right now so i think that's a great point. The other point on this make about this is that this is the world that we live in. It's the world that a lot of parts of our planet have been looking at japan over the last thirty years or whatever and then we are going to be saddled with debt whether it's consumers whether it's sovereign balance-sheets whatever the heck it is corporates. That's just the way it is. And that's why interest rates are really never gonna meaningfully. Go up again. Because we can't service all the debt and just make one other point if you think about twenty twenty and what's happened here. Obviously the fed has done their job. They hit this crisis early to make sure that we did not have large-scale bankruptcies right of some major corporations which would really snowball the unemployment situation here but let me just tell you this here. We are now four months out from expanded unemployment benefits. Were heading into the holiday season. We're in a very rocky transition and a lame duck. Congress and there is no more fiscal stimulus for small businesses and consumers. That need it really bad. So the fact that we have a trillion dollars for a bunch of companies that were buying eighty five percent using their free cash flow to eighty five percent of their free cash flow to buy back their stock over the last five years. The airlines and we can't bail out restaurants so we can't bail out consumers that is really troubling to me. Yeah we're really tough spot right now in terms of that bridge to the other side waiting for that other side for the vaccines actually be distributed and as well as injected into the arms of americans

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