Thursday, July 16, 2009


HOLD on covenants and counterparties

Watch for DPU guidance next week. FSL Trust (FSLT) will announce 2Q results next week on 21 Jul. We do not expect any big earnings surprises, and accordingly our attention will be on DPU. The trust had previously guided for 2Q distributions of 2.45 US cents per unit. Two key pieces of information to look out for: 1) whether the distribution reinvestment scheme (DRS) will apply this quarter; and 2) guidance for 3Q DPU. FSLT changed its '100% payout' model in 1Q09, by scaling back payout and instituting the DRS. We have previously noted that the relative success of the DRS in the last quarter may protect the trust's distribution payout ratio from further cuts.

Pre-paying loans may not be enough. Of course, this depends on the trust's lenders reaction to FSLT's attempts to voluntary prepay loans. Last quarter, a total of US$7.8m (roughly 46% of 1Q cash earnings) was earmarked to voluntarily prepay debt. US$3.8m stemmed from DRS proceeds, while US$4m was from retained cash earnings. We note that this amount is still small compared both to total loans and to our expectations of the quantum of the decline in vessel values.

Possibly seeking covenant waivers. We estimate that FSLT's next vessel valuation will be in the Oct/Nov period (but lenders can call for a revaluation at any time). We believe the question here is not really if the loan-to-value (LTV) covenant has been breached but the tolerance level of lenders to such a breach. Peer Rickmers Maritime [SELL, fair value: S$0.39] had previously announced it is negotiating for LTV covenant waivers with its lenders, while US peers such as Danaos [NOT RATED] and Global Ship Lease [NR] have recently announced successful grants/extensions of such waivers. We expect FSLT to also negotiate for the same - in our opinion, it should be able to secure such waivers but our concern is with pricing. A possible cost structure could be a combination of one-time fees along with higher interest margins over the waiver period.

Covenants and counterparties. We have a NEUTRAL view on the shipping trust sector. We like FSLT's diversification but the shipping industry is undeniably facing tough times. As such, our concerns on covenants and counterparty health remain unchanged. Securing an LTV covenant waiver could be an important next step for FSLT. Maintain HOLD with S$0.58 fair value estimate. This values FSLT at a 30% discount to our 'normal' case discounted FCFE value of S$0.83 (10% discount rate).



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