Shrinking supermarket paper supplies and a fair price made Ralphs Grocery Co.'s $300 million issue a hot ticket yesterday, one portfolio manager said.

"My shopping cart's full," said Ronald V. Speaker, a high-yield portfolio manager at Denver, Colo., Janus Capital Corp., who bought $7 million of the $8 million he wanted of the oversubscribed offering.

"We're all losing a lot of our grocery bonds," Mr. Speaker said. "I lost my Vons the other day to a call," he said, referring to The Vons Companies Inc., a California-based supermarket operator.

Ralphs Grocery Co. issued $300 million of 10.25% senior subordinated notes due 2002 at par. The notes are callable after five years at 105, moving to par in 1999. Moody's Investors Service rates the offering B2, while Standard & Poor's Corp. rates it B-minus. Merrill Lynch & Co. lead managed the transaction.

Robert E. Lupo, a managing director in PaineWebber Inc.'s high-yield group, said pricing on Ralphs offering is in line with other "tier one" high-yield supermarket deals. He also cited healthy demand for supermarket paper, noting Grand Union Co.'s $850 million offering that sold "pretty well" last week.

"And that was a very large issue," he said. Grand Union's offering was increased from $800 million.

In addition to its wholly owned subsidiary's debt deal, Ralphs Supermarket Inc. also planned to sell equity. But last week the holding company pulled its proposed 6.075 million common shares offer. The company said in a release last week that it made this move because the stock market had changed dramatically from when it first planned its recapitalization, which included the equity offering.

The company said in the release that other elements of the company's recapitalization, including Ralphs Grocery's debt deal and its tender offer, would go as planned. Ralphs Grocery is offering to buy back all of its $400 million 14% senior subordinated debentures due 2000. The tender offer expires July 29, a Ralphs spokeswoman said.

In the release, Byron Allumbaugh, Ralphs's chairman and chief executive officer, said the company decided against selling equity at prices that do not reflect the company's high-quality and true value.

In secondary trading yesterday, high-yield bond prices finished unchanged to up 1/8 point. High-grade bonds followed Treasuries up, gaining a 1/2 point.

New Issues

Overall yesterday, the new-issue market welcomed more than $2.2 billion of new debt, including convertible debt.

The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. issued $400 million of 4.5% step-up notes due 1997 at par. They were priced to yield 400 basis points over one-year Treasury bills. Noncallable for a year, the coupon on the notes increases to 6.30% after the call date. Merrill Lynch lead managed the offering.

AMR issued $350 million of 9% debentures due 2012 at par. The noncallable debentures were priced to yield 138 basis points over comparable Treasuries. Moody's rates the offering Baal, while Standard & Poor's rates it BBB. Goldman, Sachs & Co. lead managed the offering.

Nova Scotia issued $300 million of 8.250% debentures due 2022. The noncallable debentures were priced at 98.20 to yield 8.415% or 77 basis points over comparable Treasuries. Moody's rates the offering A2, while Standard & Poor's rates it A-minus. Merrill Lynch managed the offering.

The Federal Farm Credit Bank issued $200 million of step-up medium-term notes due 1995. The 4.15% notes were priced initially at par. Noncallable for a year, the notes' coupon steps up to 5 1/4% after the call date. Goldman Sachs lead managed the offering.

Banesto Delaware issued $150 million of guaranteed 8.25% subordinated notes due 2002. The noncallable notes were priced at 99.566 to yield 8.315%, or 144 basis points over comparable Treasuries. Moody's rates the notes A2, while Standard & Poor's did not rate them. Salomon Brothers Inc. lead managed the offering.

Wisconsin Electric Power issued $140 million of 7.25% first mortgage bonds due 2004. The noncallable bonds were priced at 99.43 to yield 7.322%, or 47 basis points over comparable Treasuries. Moody's rates the offering Aa2, while Standard & Poor's rates it AA-plus. Salomon Brothers lead managed the offering.

Svenska Handelsbanken issued $100 million of 8.125% subordinated notes due 2007. The noncallable notes were priced at 98.90 to yield 8.254%, or 137.5 basis points over 10-year Treasuries. Moody's rates the offering A1, while Standard & Poor's rates it A-plus. Merrill Lynch managed the offering.

Northern Trust issued $100 million of 4.95% medium-term bank notes due 1995 at par. The notes were priced to yield 21 basis points over comparable Treasuries. Moody's rates the offering Aa3, while Standard & Poor's rates it AA-minus. Goldman Sachs lead managed the offering.

Texas Eastern Transmission issued $100 million of 8% debentures due 2002 at par. The debentures were priced to yield 116 basis points over comparable Treasuries. Moody's rates the offering Baa3, while Standard & Poor's rates it BBB-minus. Kidder, Peabody & Co. won competitive bidding to underwrite the offering.

Federal National Mortgage Association issued $100 million of 4.54% step-up notes due 1997. Noncallable for a year, the notes float monthly at 75 basis points under the cost of funds index for the first year, at 55 basis points under in the second year, 30 basis points under in the third year, and five basis points under in the fifth year. They pay quarterly. Merrill Lynch managed the offering.

TPI Industries issued $45 million of 8.25% convertible subordinated debentures due 2002 at par. Noncallable for three years, the debentures convert into common stock at $6.50 a share, an 18% conversion premium over Tuesday's closing stock price. Standard & Poor's rates the offering B-minus. Kidder Peabody lead managed the offering.

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