- NAV up to $8.29/sh, up from $7.80 at the end of 3Q2009 (6% over the prior quarter)
- Realizations of $476m in the 4th quarter, for annual realizations of $1.1B
- Unrestricted cash of $835m, up from $445m at the end of 3Q2009 and $500m at the end of October
- Net earnings were positive in the quarter again, with earnings of $0.38/sh for 4Q2009, up from a loss in the year-before quarter of $8.13. For the year, the net loss narrowed to $-3.77, up from $-15.29 for the prior year. (These numbers reflect FAS 157, and therefore some unrealized changes in value.
- The realizations were within 1% of reported "fair value"
The bad news is that NOI will be under pressure as interest rates rise, because ACAS owes all the money it borrowed to make its investments – and owes lots of this at a floating rate – but ACAS can only collect on its performing loans. ACAS' effective rate on its private debt portfolio is 9.9%, which is better than prime but nowhere near what ACAS expected when it entered the deals it's got on the books.
Interesting news in connection with the debt restructuring: "we are working towards launching an exchange offer during March[.]" Exchange offer? If this means management is preparing to swap shares for debt in order to bring its debt:equity ratio in line with expectations, this could help confidence in ACAS as a going concern (because it's not in default, because it is in compliance with required ratios, etc.) and help ACAS shares trade without a significant discount to NAV. On the other hand, exchanging shares for debt is terrible: ACAS' portfolio was picked for being expected to perform better than the cost of debt, so trading the debt for ownership of (part of) the portfolio (by issuing shares) works against the whole thesis of ACAS' prior practice of borrowing to invest. I'd like to see the economics of this transaction before passing judgment. At the right price, this might not be bad – but at the wrong price this is a concerning possibility. On the other hand, "exchange offer" might simply mean exchanging one debt for another – making unsecured creditors into secured creditors, changing existing debt holders into holders of debt with updated interest rates and expiration dates, etc. What management means by "exchange offer" is something that needs some understanding to evaluate.
In the past, ACAS has been good (e.g., ECAS, whose ability to realize NAV has improved due to improvements in the status of its credit facilities) about making good deals by issuing shares below NAV. Based on the representations in the proxy statement, I favored this below-NAV authorization, too. Let's look forward to more good things, including more NAV improvement, as the end of the economy's free-fall becomes clearer.
In the meantime, let's look for evidence that ACAS has an effective plan to stabilize NOI and normalize its credit situation.