New Bond Issues Take a Holiday

New issues in the U.S. dollar corporate-bond market kicked back and took a break over the holiday week. There was only $7.35 billion worth of new issues, and $4.9 billion of that was from companies based outside the U.S. Freddie Mac was also in the market for $5.5 billion, which isn't included in the corporate tally. Here are a few of the highlights.

Baidu (Nasdaq: BIDU  ) led the borrowing charge with $1.5 billion split evenly between five- and 10-year paper. The money will be used "to retire certain existing debt and the remainder for general corporate purposes." According to Bloomberg, one of the general corporate purposes is a war chest for acquisitions and strategic initiatives.

Pentair (NYSE: PNR  ) floated $600 million spread over three- and seven-year tranches. The Switzerland-based industrial will be using the money to repay commercial paper.

DCP Midstream Partners (NYSE: DPM  ) pumped $500 million of new five-year notes through the market's pipeline. The money will go toward term loans and general partnership purposes.

Legacy Reserves (Nasdaq: LGCY  ) drilled into the high-yield market for $300 million in new cash. The oil and natural-gas operations partnership is putting the money toward the "$520 million purchase price of its pending acquisition of oil and natural gas properties in the Permian Basin from Concho Resources." The new money was priced at an 8% coupon rate and sold at a slight discount to par.

Airgas (NYSE: ARG  ) floated $250 million of 10-year notes. The initial use for the new money is repaying commercial paper. Other uses listed in the press release are acquisitions and stock repurchases. When the company can borrow for 10 years at 2.9%, those other uses can start to look pretty attractive.

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As a stock investor, it's easy to overlook the bond market, but it's important to keep tabs on the borrowing habits of companies in your portfolio and on your watchlist.

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