LONDON -- Aston Martin said it had raised $150 million from a bond issue, with the option to raise another $100 million if order targets are met, to bolster its cash in an uncertain trading environment.
CEO Andy Palmer said the financing would address concerns in the market about the company's balance sheet.
"Taking this debt on -- short-term debt -- is the correct tool to completely remove that thesis that we don't have sufficient liquidity," Palmer said on Wednesday.
"In every substantial and material way, this ensures that we can get through to DBX in spite of what all of those global uncertainties might throw at us," he said.
The DBX, Aston Martin's first utility vehicle, will be unveiled in December. Deliveries will start at the end of the second quarter of next year, Palmer said.
CFO Mark Wilson said the automaker expected economic headwinds and uncertainty to continue. "What we have announced today is a cost and time-effective structure that immediately strengthens our liquidity in the short term and the option to draw further funding as we successfully execute the plan," he said.
The main tranche comprises 12 percent notes due in 2022, while the additional notes could be issued under the same terms if permitted or could be issued as unsecured notes with an interest rate of 15 percent.
Aston Martin slumped to a first-half loss in July, as sales fell short of its original expectations. Shares in the company, which listed in London in autumn 2018 at a price of 19 pounds ($24), closed at 5.75 pounds on Tuesday.
Broker AJ Bell said Aston Martin was known for its high-end prices and that situation now also applied to its debt.
"These rates are very high and are a major red flag that investors consider the car company to be a high-risk entity," it said.
Analysts at Jefferies, who said they had expected the company to raise 200 million pounds ($249 million) at a rate of 10 percent, said it was an "expensive short-term de-risking."
Aston Martin's debt raise feels like "kicking the can down the road but should de-stress liquidity," they said. "It also provides needed breathing room to execute the DBX launch, although a high order rate should reduce the need to raise more debt."
Deeper into junk
On Wednesday, ratings agency Standard & Poor's cut Aston Martin's credit rating deeper into junk territory amid concerns over the UK's exit from the European Union and threat of U.S. tariffs.
The ratings agency trimmed its rating by one notch to CCC+, which reflects substantial risks and takes it close to default territory after a faster-than-expected cash burn this year. The outlook is negative.
The negative outlook reflects ongoing pressure on profits, a high cash burn, and very high leverage in the face of heightened risks linked to a potential no-deal Brexit and new tariffs on car imports threatened by the United States.
Standard & Poor's said it believed Aston Martin had reached the ceiling in terms of the amount of term debt and cash interest burden it could sustainably service.
The agency said the DBX is critical to its ambitious growth strategy and ongoing creditworthiness.
Aston Martin said it will need to secure 1,400 orders for the utility vehicle by the middle of next year to release the second tranche of debt at 12 percent. If it misses the target, the tranche could be issued as unsecured notes, with a coupon of 15 percent, it said.
"We haven't formally started trading the car yet -- it hasn't been unveiled -- but with early indications with private viewings we think that eminently doable," Palmer said of the target.
Aston Martin said demand for its special vehicles remained strong, with the Valkyrie hypercar selling out and excess customer demand for the mid-engined Valhalla.
As of July 1, the company had 806 orders in production.
Aston Martin said it expected to meet current market consensus expectations for 2019, despite continuing pressure on sales volumes, subject to adjustments to reflect the new bonds.
Analysts expect the company to report net revenue of 1.1 billion pounds ($1.4 billion) and adjusted core earnings of 208 million pounds ($349 million), according to a company-complied consensus dated Sept. 10.午夜剧院