Wheeling-Pittsburgh Corp. plans to sell $150 million of notes today, and Stone Container Corp. expects to start the roadshow for its $240 million offering tomorrow, high-yield market sources said Friday.
"There's a lot of interest in Wheeling-Pittsburgh," a high-yield trader not involved in the transaction said.
"A couple of accounts tell me they like it a lot," he said. On Friday, price talk had the notes yielding 11 3/4%, the trader added.
Wheeling-Pittsburgh may increase its deal slightly, to $160 million or $170 million, a second trader said, but the company will not increase the deal significantly because of the collateralized nature of the first mortgage notes.
A significant increase of the deal could change "some people's perception of the risk," one analyst explained.
A Wheeling-Pittsburgh official declined to comment on whether the deal, which is to be managed by Citicorp Securities Markets Inc., would be increased. The roadshow, or formal marketing period, for Stone Container's seven-year senior unsecured notes, starts tomorrow and runs through Nov. 22, one high-yield analyst said. The notes will be drawn from the company's $600 million shelf.
The offering is expected to be priced on Nov. 25 or Nov. 26, the source said. Stone Container will use proceeds from the offering to pay down bank debt. Merrill Lynch & Co. is the lead manager on the offering, and Bear, Stearns & Co.; Bankers Trust; Goldman, Sachs & Co.; Salomon Brothers Inc.; and Citicorp are co-managers.
Inland Steel Co. also is expected to price Nov. 25 or Nov. 26 its $100 million offering of first mortgage bonds with a seven-year bullet maturity, a trader familiar with the issue said. Goldman is the lead manager on the deal, and First Boston is co-manager.
The deals come at the time when the market craves paper, one high-yield buyer said. The market last Wednesday gobbled up Safeway Inc.'s offering, which the company increased to $300 million.
A Japanese investor wanted to purchase $100 million of those senior subordinated notes, but came away with only $50 million, the buy-side source said.
"The Japanese like brand names and high quality and double digits," he said, adding that Safeway has been a "very consistent performer."
Over all, the high-yield market was down about 1/2 point in secondary-market trading late Friday. High-grade corporates were mixed, with the short end up 1/8 point and the long end down 1/4 point. The stock market's fall pushed short-term Treasuries up about 1/4 point and short-term corporates followed suit, lagging by about 1/8 point.
Among Friday's new issues was the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp.'s $150 million of Treasury bill floating rate notes due 1992. The notes float weekly at five basis points over three-month Treasury bills and pay quarterly. First Boston Corp. was sole manager on the offering.
The Federal National Mortgage Association issued $150 million of 6.750% medium-term notes due 1996. Noncallable for one year, the variable-rate notes were priced initially at par to yield 16 basis points over comparable Treasuries. Morgan Stanley sole managed the issue.
In Friday's ratings actions, Standard & Poor's Corp. upgraded Magma Copper Co.'s subordinated debt to BB-minus from B-plus, an agency release says. The change affects about $310 million of debt.
"Magma continues to benefit from extremely favorable copper prices," the release said. "Given supply disruptions industry wide, copper prices have held at high levels over the past few years -- despite the downturn in demand in the key construction sector -- and tight supply conditions are expected to persist," according to the release.
Moody's Investors Service downgraded Eagle Star Insurance Co.'s insurance financial strength rating to A1 from Aa2. Moody's had place the rating on review for a possible downgrade after the company announced a pretax loss of 189 million pounds sterling for the period ending June 30, 1991. Moody's continues to review for a possible downgrade the long-term ratings of B.A.T. Industries plc and its guaranteed subsidiaries, as well as the long-term ratings of Farmers Group Inc. All were placed under review at the same time as Eagle Star. Eagle Star is wholly owned by B.A.T. Industries, which is headquartered in London.
"The downgrade reflects the near-term pressures on Eagle Star's earnings arising from its provisions for commercial and domestic mortgage indemnity businesses," the release says. "The rating action also reflects the expectation that there will be pressures on Eagle Star's earnings and capital formation over the longer term resulting from increasing competition in the underlying U.K. general insurance market.