Cola Wars in the Bond Market

New issues in U.S. corporate bond markets topped $36 billion last week, with multibillion-dollar issues accounting for much of the borrowing.

Leading the borrowing brigade was Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold (NYSE: FCX  ) , with $6.5 billion spread over five-, seven-, 10-, and 30-year paper. The mining giant is using the money to fund its acquisitions of McMoRan Oil & Gas and Plains Exploration & Production.

Meanwhile, Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO  ) and Pepsi (NYSE: PEP  ) served up $2.5 billion each of new notes. Coca-Cola is using the money to redeem about $1.3 billion of higher-coupon paper. The debt service on the new notes will be about $40 million per year less than the old paper, and Coca-Cola should have more than a billion dollars left after redeeming the old paper. If the deal weren't already sweet enough, the new three-year, floating-rate note is pegged two basis points below LIBOR.

Pepsi didn't get quite as good a deal. Its three-year, floating-rate note bubbles up to 21 basis points above LIBOR, and the 10-year piece sports a 2.75% coupon versus 2.5% for Coca-Cola. Pepsi will be using the new money "for general corporate purposes, including the repayment of commercial paper."

UnitedHealth (NYSE: UNH  ) joined the multibillion borrowers club with prescriptions for 1.5-, six-, 10-, and 30-year notes totaling $2.25 billion. The "use of proceeds" section in the SEC filing listed general corporate purposes among the list of nearly every general corporate purpose conceivable.

Philip Morris International (NYSE: PM  ) just made multibillion borrowing by rolling out $1.85 billion over two-, 10-, and 30-year tranches. Whoever prepared the SEC filing must have done the same for UnitedHealth, as the list of uses for the money is nearly identical in the two filings. 

Companies continue to have access to low-rate borrowing in the bond markets. Of the companies profiled above, Freeport McMoRan, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and Philip Morris International all issued 10-year paper with coupon rates below their respective dividend yields.

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  • Report this Comment On March 04, 2013, at 9:20 PM, HarryCarysGhost wrote:

    "The debt service on the new notes will be about $40 million per year less than the old paper, and Coca-Cola should have more than a billion dollars left after redeeming the old paper."

    Schweet!

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