News Column

Fitch: Another Jump in US HY Default Rate Looms

July 29, 2014

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- A potential bankruptcy filing from another struggling giant, Caesars Entertainment Operating Co., would propel the trailing 12-month US high yield default rate to 3.4% from its June perch of 2.7%, according to Fitch Ratings. With its $12.9 billion in bonds in Fitch's default index, the gaming company's impact on the default rate is pronounced - similar to Energy Future Holdings' (EFH) April bankruptcy. Caesars also adds to notable trends of busted LBOs and the exclusive camp of serial defaulters.

There have been 10 LBO related bond defaults thus far in 2014, compared with nine for all of 2013. The failed LBOs affected $21.8 billion in bonds this year and 26% of all bond defaults since 2008. Caesars would bring the latter tally to 29%. In addition, a Caesars filing would follow two prior restructurings via distressed debt exchanges (DDEs). Since 2008, 24% of issuers engaged in DDEs have subsequently filed for bankruptcy.

June defaults included Affinion Group, Allen Systems Group, MIG LLC, and Altegrity Inc., bringing the year-to-date high yield default tally to 20 issuers of $23.7 billion in bonds versus an issuer count of 19 and dollar value of $8.4 billion in first-half 2013. July defaults have so far included Essar Steel Algoma and Windsor Petroleum Transport.

Notwithstanding the likes of EFH and Caesars, the otherwise low default rate environment has some significant near-term support. Banks continue to ease standards on commercial and industrial loans, according to the Federal Reserve's Senior Loan Officer Survey, and they report stronger demand for such loans. The latter trend is an especially important gauge of economic activity and is consistent with the widely held view that GDP will improve in the second half of 2014.

At midmonth, approximately $33 billion in high yield bonds were trading at 90% of par or less - a relatively modest 2.9% of the $1.1 trillion in bonds with price data.

For additional information, please see our report titled, "Fitch U.S. High Yield Default Insight, Another Jump in Default Rate Looms," which is available on our website

Additional information is available on

The above article originally appeared as a post on the Fitch Wire credit market commentary page. The original article, which may include hyperlinks to companies and current ratings, can be accessed at All opinions expressed are those of Fitch Ratings.

Applicable Criteria and Related Research: Fitch U.S. High Yield Default Insight

Fitch Ratings

Mariarosa Verde, +1 212-908-0791

Managing Director

Fitch Ratings, Inc.

33 Whitehall Street

New York, NY 10004


Eric Rosenthal, +1 212-908-0286

Senior Director


Kellie Geressy-Nilsen, +1 212-908-9123

Senior Director

Fitch Wire


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Brian Bertsch, +1 212-908-0549

Source: Fitch Ratings

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