These Banks Dip Into Bonds

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U.S. dollar corporate bond issues topped $30 billion last week, with nearly half going to international export-import or development banks and companies headquartered outside the U.S.

A trio of banks made up a sizable slice of the total: Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS  ) , JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM  ) and Mitsubishi UFJ subsidiary Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi tapping the bond market for $4.5 billion, $2.5 billion, and $2.25 billion, respectively. None of the three detailed what the money would be used for, which is typical for banks.

Specialty chemicals producer Ashland (NYSE: ASH  ) mixed up a formula of notes with three- to 30-year maturities to borrow $2.3 billion. The money is being used to pay down existing loans.

Cardinal Health (NYSE: CAH  ) prescribed a mix of five-, 10-, and 30-year paper to raise $1.3 billion. According to the SEC filing, the money will go toward Cardinal's acquisition of AssuraMed. In this video, my Foolish colleague Brenton Flynn explains how this acquisition helps Cardinal expand its business.

Kinder Morgan Energy Partners (UNKNOWN: KMP.DL  ) made the billion-dollar borrowers' club with $1 billion split between 10.5- and thirty-year paper. Kinder Morgan is using the money to pay down its commercial paper. Unrelated to the debt offering, Kinder Morgan also announced its involvement in a crude-oil rail transportation project. I'm just speculating, but freeing up some room on a credit line could be helpful in managing the cash flow for a new project.

Goodyear Tire (NASDAQ: GT  ) rolled out $900 million of eight-year notes. The high-yield -- if you can call 6.5% high -- issue was upsized from $750 million and will be used "to fund discretionary contributions to its frozen U.S. pension plans and, to the extent not used for such purposes, for general corporate purposes."

Wyndham Worldwide wasn't playing games with an issue of $850 million of new debt. The money will be used to repurchase or redeem higher-rate paper. Replacing high-rate notes with lower-rate paper seems a sure way to cut costs.

Bonds aren't as exciting or widely covered as stocks, but keeping tabs on company borrowing and use of that money should be a part of investment research.

With big finance firms still trading at deep discounts to their historic norms, investors everywhere are wondering if this is the new normal, or whether finance stocks are a screaming buy today. The answer depends on the company, so to help you figure out whether JPMorgan is a buy today, I invite you to read our premium research report on the company today. Click here now for instant access!

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