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26 Mar 2009
Approximately $500 million in securities affected
New York, March 26, 2009 -- Moody's Investors Service today affirmed the Baa3 senior unsecured rating
of Plum Creek Timberlands, LP and revised the outlook to stable,
from positive. The outlook change was driven more by the poor operating
environment than by Plum Creek's performance, which has been
Moody's said that improvement has been difficult to achieve for Plum Creek
in the areas of size, diversity, earnings and cash flow as
a result of the unprecedented and prolonged downturn in the REIT's forward
markets. Furthermore, transactions will be more difficult
within its real estate division, given the overall lack of credit.
Until the general uncertainty lifts, it is problematic to foresee
meaningful rating momentum. Leverage metrics for the issuer had
been drifting upward; however, the company has been recently
active in reducing debt, including with the use of proceeds from
a large joint venture formed in 4Q08. Ultimately, Plum Creek's
metrics are very strong for its rating and liquidity remains very good
with the REIT covering its operations, debt maturities and capital
needs from internal sources through the end of 2010.
The stable ratings outlook reflects Moody's view that Plum Creek will
generate more than enough cash flow to meet its commitments and will maintain
good balance sheet flexibility over the next year. Plum Creek's
rating would likely move higher should its timberlands total 6 million
acres or higher, EBITDA returns to levels of at least $550
million (before real estate basis) and EBITDA margins return to the high
30% range, provided that net debt over EBITDA remains below
4.5x (excluding real estate basis and joint ventures). Demand
stabilization in the lumber and to a lesser extent pulp markets would
also be needed for an upward rating movement. Conversely,
ratings will likely come under pressure with leverage in excess of 5.5x,
fixed charge coverage below 3.0x or secured debt above 10%
of gross assets. A downgrade could also result if timber prices
continue to fall and recovery does not materialize within 24 months,
or should Plum Creek's manufacturing operations increase meaningfully
relative to timber and timberlands.
The following ratings were affirmed with a stable outlook:
Plum Creek Timber Company, Inc. -- (P)Ba2 preferred
Plum Creek Timberlands, LP -- Baa3 senior unsecured;
(P)Baa3 senior unsecured shelf; (P)Ba1 senior subordinate shelf;
(P)Ba1 subordinate shelf.
In its most recent rating action with respect to Plum Creek, Moody's
affirmed the REIT's senior debt at Baa3 with a positive outlook on June
Plum Creek Timber Company, Inc. (NYSE:PCL) is a timber
REIT headquartered in Seattle and is the largest and most geographically
diverse private landowner in the nation with more than 7 million acres
of timberlands in major timber producing regions of the United States
and 10 wood products manufacturing facilities in the Northwest.
The principal methodology used in rating Plum Creek was the Rating Methodology
for REITs and Other Commercial Property Firms, which can be found
at www.moodys.com in the Credit Policy & Methodologies
directory, in the Ratings Methodologies subdirectory. Other
methodologies and factors that may have been considered in the process
of rating Plum Creek can also be found in the Credit Policy & Methodologies
Christopher Wimmer, CFA
Vice President - Senior Analyst
Commercial Real Estate Finance
Moody's Investors Service
Moody's affirms Plum Creek at Baa3; revises outlook to stable
Asst Vice President - Analyst
Commercial Real Estate Finance
Moody's Investors Service
No Related Data.
© 2019 Moody’s Corporation, Moody’s Investors Service, Inc., Moody’s Analytics, Inc. and/or their licensors and affiliates (collectively, “MOODY’S”). All rights reserved.
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