Although it wasn't a major snag, Standard & Poor's Corp.'s BBB-plus rating siphoned some steam from Petro-Canada's $600 million offering yesterday.
"It took some of the cash buyers out of it," one trader said. Policies of some accounts prohibit them from buying anything rated less than single-A, he said. Moody's Investors Service Inc. rates the deal A3.
"That's only one notch away," Bruce Crawford, an assistant vice president at Standard & Poor's, said of the difference between his agency's rating and Mood's. It's "a minor difference of opinion."
Commitments had been received for all Petro-Canada's $300 million of 10-year notes by almost 3:30 p.m. yesterday, leaving about a third of the $300 million of the 30-year piece uncommitted, another trader said.
Price talk on the 10-year noncallable notes yesterday ranged from 95 to 100 basis points over comparable Treasuries. Talk on the 30-year debentures was in the 115-to-120 basis point range.
Morgan Stanley & Co. is the lead underwriter with Merrill, Lynch & Co., Salomon Brothers, and J.P. Morgan Securities as comanagers.
Morgan Stanley declined comment.
The offering marks Petro-Canada's first long-term issue since it was privatized in February 1991, according to Mr. Crawford. The Canadian government still owns approximately 80% of the company's shares but holds them as a passive investor, he said. Petro-Canada will use the proceeds of the offering to pre-pay some of the $1.2 billion of government guaranteed debt it has outstanding, Mr. Crawford said.
Also yesterday, Morgan Stanley Group issued a total of $400 million of noncallable notes yesterday. The company issued $200 million of 8% notes due 1996 priced at 99.915% to yield, 105 basis points over comparable Treasuries. Morgan Stanley increased the offering from $150 million. The company also offered $200 million of 8.875% notes due 2001. The notes were priced at par to yield 120 basis points over comparable Treasuries. Morgan Stanley & Co. lead managed the offering.
General Motors Acceptance Corp. also tapped the market yesterday, coming in with a $400 million issue. The 7.5% notes due 1995 were priced at 99.952 to yield 7.512% or 90 basis points over the three-to-five-year interpolated Treasuries. Moody's rates the deal A1, while Standard & Poor's rates it A.
As for agency issues, The Federal National Mortgage Association issued $150 million of 7.7% medium term notes due 1998. Noncallable for three years, the notes were priced at par to yield 36 basis points over comparable Treasuries. Lehman sole managed the offering.
Also yesterday, Georgia-Pacific Corp. filed a shelf registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission to issue up to $300 million of debt, Dick Perkins, a Georgia Pacific spokesman said.
The $300 million filing brings to $500 million the amount of shelf registered debt the company has, he said. Georgia Pacific has $200 million leftover from an filing, he said.
Georgia-Pacific will use proceeds to lower its outstanding term loan under a credit agreement with Bank of America National Trust and Savings Association and 24 other domestic and international banks, Mr. Perkins said.
In the high-yield market yesterday, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Inc. junk bonds jumped 31 points yesterday pushed up by speculation that General Cinema Corp. will get Harcourt holdouts to tender the 90% of bonds in each lass it demands to complete a merger with the publishing company.
Harcourt's 14 3/4% pay-in-kind debentures climbed 31 points, to 99, one trader said, adding, "The price is telling you that the deal is done. They are General Cinema bonds now." General Cinema is an investment-grade company.
General Cinema extended the deadline for its cash tender offers to Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Inc. bondholders again, this time until 5 p.m. yesterday. It marked the third since General Cinema vowed to kill both the offers and the merger agreement with Harcourt if the bondholders failed to tender 90% of the securities in each the five classes. If marks about the sixth extension overall.
The 14 1/4% subordinated debentures holders remained the staunchest holdouts at close of business Tuesday, tendering only 81.548% of the 90% of subordinated debentures General Cinema requires to close the deal.
The 14 3/4% subordinated pay-in-kind debentures holders nearly made the 90% mark with 89.999% of bonds tendered, while holders in the other three classes tendered enough to either reach or bettered the 90% requirement.
Overall, the high-yield market was up about a 1/4 to a 1/2 point, driven the Harcourt news. The highgrade market was largely unchanged.
In ratings actions yesterday, Duff & Phelps assigned Commonwealth Edison Co.'s new issue of $250 million of first mortgage bonds an A-minus rating. The securities stem from an existing shelf registration.
"Strong cash flow and a manageable construction program should provide the opportunity for ongoing improvement in Commonwealth Edison's financial protection measures," a Duff & Phelps release said.
Also yesterday, Duff & Phelps assigned an AA rating to Norwest Financial Inc.'s $150 million of 7 1/4% senior notes due 1995. The noncollable notes priced at par received the same rating the agency assigned to Norwest Financial's outstanding senior debt.
"This rating reflects the company's excellent record of profitability, the quality of its portfolio, and moderate [through increased] use of financial leverage," a Duff & Phelps release said, "Earnings growth has been uninterrupted for well over a decade."