The sale of lower rated bonds continued unabated yesterday, as investors looking to pick up yield moved down the credit ladder. Companies rated below investment grade sold three issues worth $330 million, following the three deals worth $340 million sold on Wednesday.

Yesterday's issuers included County Seat Stores rated B3 by Moody's Investors Service and B-minus by Standard & Poor's Corp. The company included an equity kicker in its offering, allowing debtholders to purchase up to 5% of the company in the future.

Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette Securities Corp. priced the notes to yield 12.75%, a rate reminiscent of the late 1980s. The spread to Treasuries on the 8-year debt was an eye-popping 800 basis points.

"Can you imagine where that would have been [priced] without the equity," one trader said.

Market analysts said the deal reflected an increasing spread between higher and lower rated companies within the below investment grade market.

"At the end of the second quarter, investors seemed to be making little distinction based on credit quality," said Marty Fridson, director of high yield research at Merrill Lynch & Co.

Recently, however, the trend has shifted. Better quality issues are still oversubscribed, but the more marginal deals are offering higher rates and equity, Fridson said.

"I think it's healthy, in a sense. If people are putting money into marginal companies without getting compensated that's a bad sign," he said.

In the secondary market yesterday, investment grade issues were unchanged in quiet trading. One trader said bonds of Tele-Communications Inc. jumped 3/8 to 1/2 after new reports yesterday said the company would get more involved in the takeover battle shaping up for Paramount Communications Inc.

Below investment grade issues were up 1/4 to 1/2 across the board.

Carnival Cruise Lines Inc. issued $250 million of debt in a two-part offering. The first part consisted of $125 million of 6.15% notes due in 2003. The noncallable notes were priced at 99.945 to yield 6.157%, a spread of 83 basis points over comparable Treasuries.

The second part consisted of $125 million of 7.20% debentures due in 2023. The noncallable debentures were priced at 99.885 to yield 7.209%, a spread of 103 basis points. Goldman. Sachs & Co. managed the offering. which was rated Baal by Moody's and A-minus by Standard & Poor's.

Banker Trust NY Corp. sold $150 million of 6% subordinated notes due in 2008. The noncallable notes were priced at 98.965 to yield 6.106%, or 78 basis points more than comparable Treasuries. Kidder, Peabody & Co. managed the issue.

International Cabeltel Inc. issued $124.8 million, face value, of senior deferred coupon notes due in 2003. The notes, noncallable for 5 years, were priced at 58.73 to yield 10.875%. The do not pay a cash coupon for the first 5 years. Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette Securities managed the offering.

County Seats Stores issued $105 million of 12% senior subordinated notes due 2001. The notes, noncallable for 5 years, were priced at 96.303 to yield 12.75%. The notes, rated B3 by Moody's and B-minus by Standard & Poor's, include warrants to purchase up to 5% of the companies stock.

PNC Bank, Kentucky, Inc. sold $100 million of bank notes due in 1994. The notes were priced at par to yield 3.40%, a spread of 8 basis points over comparable Treasuries. CS First Boston managed the issue.

Bank of Delaware, a unit of PNC Financial Corp., issued $100 million of bank notes due in 1994. The notes were priced at par to yield 3.40%, or 8 basis points more than comparable Treasuries. CS First Boston managed the issue.

Iowa-Illinois Gas & Electric issued $100 million of debt in a two-part issue. The first part consisted if $50 million of 5.05% first mortgage bonds due in 1998. The noncallable bonds were priced at 99.838 to yield 5.087%, a spread of 38 basis points over comparable Treasuries.

The second part consisted of $50 million of 6.95% first mortgage bonds due in 2025. The bonds, noncallable for 10 years, were priced at par to yield 6.95%, a spread of 78 basis points over the 30-year Treasury bond due in February, 2023. Smith Barney Shearson Inc. and Goldman Sachs managed the issue.

Riverwood International Corp. sold $100 million of debt in a two-part offering. The first part consisted of $37.5 million of 10.75% senior notes due in 2000. The notes, noncallable for 4 years, were priced at 106. Yields to maturity were not available. Goldman Sachs managed the issue, which was rated Ba2 by Moody's and B by Standard & Poor's.

The second part consisted of $62.5 million of 11.25% senior subordinated notes due in 2002. The notes, noncallable for 4 years, were priced at 106.125. Yields to maturity were unavailable. Goldman Sachs managed the issue which was rated B1 by Moody's and B by Standard & Poor's.

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