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Rating Action:

Moody's affirms Air Products' A2 rating following divestiture announcement; outlook remains stable

18 Sep 2015

New York, September 18, 2015 -- Moody's Investors Service has today affirmed Air Products and Chemicals Inc.'s (Air Products) senior unsecured A2 rating. Concurrently, Moody's has affirmed Air Products' short-term Prime-1 rating assigned to the company's commercial paper obligations. These affirmations come following Air Product's recent announcement to separate its Materials Technology (MT) business via a tax-free spin-off to its shareholders. For the last twelve months (LTM) ending June 2015, the MT business produced roughly $2.1 billion in sales -- nearly 20% of the company's total. The outlook on all ratings remains stable.

"The A2 and Prime-1 ratings affirmations reflect the company's commitment to the A2 rating, and its intention to reduce debt --using any increase in financial flexibility for measures that are positive to the company's credit and business profiles," says Anthony Hill, a Moody's Vice-President -- Senior Credit Officer and lead analyst for Air Products.

Air Products' ratings affected as a result of today's action:

Affirmations:

Long Term Issuer Rating: A2

Senior Unsecured(Domestic): A2

Senior Unsecured(Foreign): A2

Senior Unsecured Shelf Rating: (P)A2

Senior Unsecured MTN Program Rating: (P)A2

Commercial Paper: P-1

Backed PC Rev bonds: A2/P-1

Outlook: remains Stable

RATINGS RATIONALE

The affirmation of Air Products' ratings reflects Moody's belief that the company's credit metrics will not be weakened by the spin-off of the MT business and that the company will seek to utilize its increased financial flexibility to grow its industrial gas business organically or through modest acquisitions. Air Products continues to show a favorable trend in operating performance and credit metrics with an

EBITDA margins of 31% for LTM ending June 2015, versus 28% for financial year-end (FYE) September 2014; and a retained cash flow to debt ratio (RCF/debt) of 26%, versus 28% over the same periods. Leverage too has improved to 2.2x debt/EBITDA for LTM ending June 2015, versus 2.4x debt/EBITDA for FYE September 2014. All figures are on a Moody's-adjusted basis.

The company stated the current plan is for the MT business to have roughly $2.5 billion of debt after the spin-off, which will be comprised of $1.7 billion of debt issued in exchange for $1.7 billion of Air Products outstanding debt and $800 million of new debt that will fund a dividend to Air Products at the close. Moody's notes that Air Products debt may decline by up to $2.5 billion immediately following the spin-off, purportedly giving the company approximately $1.5 billion of financial flexibility relative to its current leverage profile. Moody's has a lower assessment of the level of financial flexibility available following the spin-off; however, we currently assume the company will appropriately utilize the additional capital deployment capacity to strengthen its credit and business profiles -- which may include reducing debt further.

Strategically, the transaction is credit positive for Air Products as it allows the company to focus on its core industrial gases business, which has higher margins and more consistent cash flow generation. Historically MT has generated EBITDA margins in the 20% to 25% range while industrial gases has margins are north of 30%. Additionally, unlike industrial gases, MT's cash flows are subject to potentially large swings in working capital. Therefore, pro forma for the transaction, Moody's expects margins to increase and variability in cash flows to decrease.

While the transaction reduces Air Products scale to the Baa-range, Moody's maintains that the characteristics of the industrial gas industry (high barriers to entry, long term take-or-pay contracts, greater pricing flexibility, a diverse and stable customer base, and large volume plants at customers' facilities) provide producers, like Air Products, with sustainable above-average operating margins and more stable gross cash flow than most other industrial companies.

Air Products' Prime-1 commercial paper rating is supported by good liquidity. The company maintains a commercial paper program of $1.0 billion, which is fully back-stopped by a $2.4 billion revolving credit facility due in 2018. In addition, Air Products has significant room under the financial covenant in its facility as leverage is well below the maximum level permitted. Air Products' foreign subsidiaries maintain additional committed facilities of $125 million. As of 30 June 2015, $125 million was outstanding under these facilities.

The revolver also backs approximately $800 million of tax-exempt commercial paper that is issued by certain municipal conduits. Air Products receives the cash from these securities and guarantees their repayment. The level of commercial paper issued by these conduits may increase, if the company receives additional authorizations from States or other tax-exempt municipal conduits.

Air Products' stable outlook assumes that credit metrics will continue to improve over time to levels that fully support the rating.

Pressure to upgrade Air Products' rating could materialize if the company were to generate a retained cash flow/debt ratio above 35%; a free cash flow/debt ratio above 10%; and improve its leverage profile such that its debt/EBITDA ratio falls below 2.0x -- all on a sustained basis, assuming Moody's standard adjustments.

The rating may be downgraded if Air Products' credit metrics become stressed for the A-rating category because of (1) a weakening in operational performance; (2) debt financed acquisitions; or (3) any large share repurchase program or shareholder dividend. Quantitatively, Moody's would consider a downgrade if the company's retained cash flow/debt and debt/EBITDA remain below 25% and above 2.5x, respectively, on a sustained basis, assuming Moody's standard adjustments.

The principal methodology used in these ratings was Global Chemical Industry Rating Methodology published in December 2013. Please see the Credit Policy page on www.moodys.com for a copy of this methodology.

Headquartered in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Air Products is the fourth largest global supplier of industrial gases by revenue. Air Products CEO, Seifi Ghasemi, was appointed in July 2014. In October 2014, the company put into place a new operating structure. Before the new structure Air Products' main business divisions were: (1) merchant gases; (2) tonnage gases; (3) electronics and performance materials; and (4) equipment and energy. Now, the company's reporting segments are as follows: (1) industrial gases - Americas; (2) industrial gases - EMEA; (3) industrial gases - Asia; (4) industrial gases - global; (5) materials technologies; (6) energy-from-waste; and (7) corporate and other. The company sells its products to over 100,000 industrial customers in more than 30 countries. In addition to industrial gases, the company also supplies specialty chemicals and gas processing equipment to various end markets.

For FYE September 2014, Air Product's sales and Moody's-adjusted EBITDA were approximately $10.4 billion and $2.8 billion, respectively. For the LTM ending June 2015, these figures were approximately $10.1 billion and $3.1 billion, respectively.

REGULATORY DISCLOSURES

For ratings issued on a program, series or category/class of debt, this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to each rating of a subsequently issued bond or note of the same series or category/class of debt or pursuant to a program for which the ratings are derived exclusively from existing ratings in accordance with Moody's rating practices. For ratings issued on a support provider, this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to the rating action on the support provider and in relation to each particular rating action for securities that derive their credit ratings from the support provider's credit rating. For provisional ratings, this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to the provisional rating assigned, and in relation to a definitive rating that may be assigned subsequent to the final issuance of the debt, in each case where the transaction structure and terms have not changed prior to the assignment of the definitive rating in a manner that would have affected the rating. For further information please see the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page for the respective issuer on www.moodys.com.

For any affected securities or rated entities receiving direct credit support from the primary entity(ies) of this rating action, and whose ratings may change as a result of this rating action, the associated regulatory disclosures will be those of the guarantor entity. Exceptions to this approach exist for the following disclosures, if applicable to jurisdiction: Ancillary Services, Disclosure to rated entity, Disclosure from rated entity.

Regulatory disclosures contained in this press release apply to the credit rating and, if applicable, the related rating outlook or rating review.

Please see www.moodys.com for any updates on changes to the lead rating analyst and to the Moody's legal entity that has issued the rating.

Please see the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page on www.moodys.com for additional regulatory disclosures for each credit rating.

Anthony Hill
VP - Senior Credit Officer
Corporate Finance Group
Moody's Investors Service, Inc.
250 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10007
U.S.A.
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

Brian Oak
MD - Corporate Finance
Corporate Finance Group
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

Releasing Office:
Moody's Investors Service, Inc.
250 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10007
U.S.A.
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

Moody's affirms Air Products' A2 rating following divestiture announcement; outlook remains stable
No Related Data.
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