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Gladstone Capital Corp (NASDAQ:GLAD)
Q3 2020 Earnings Call
Jul 30, 2020, 8:30 a.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by, and welcome to Gladstone Capital Corporation's third Quarter Ended June 30th, 2020 Earnings Call and Webcast.

[Operator Instructions] Please be advised that today's call is being recorded.

[Operator Instructions] I would now like to turn the call over to David Gladstone. Please go ahead.

David J. Gladstone -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

All right. Thank you, Michelle. Nice introduction. Got us all warmed up. This is David Gladstone, Chairman. And the quarterly earnings call that we normally do every quarter, and this is the third quarter for this Company, it's year ending September 30. And really thank you all for calling in.

We're always happy to talk to shareholders and analysts and welcome the opportunity to provide an update on the Company and its investment portfolio. It's really hard today to give you much determination on which way the winds are blowing. The government gets to decide most everything and you've got the state government, the county government, the national government, and it's really hard to figure out which way the winds are blowing.

But we'll start out here the way we always do. General Counsel, Michael LiCalsi, will make some statements regarding forward-looking statements.

Michael LiCalsi -- General Counsel and Secretary

Thanks, David, and good morning, everybody. Today's report may include forward-looking statements under the Securities Act of 1933, Securities Exchange Act of 1934, including those regarding our future performance. These forward-looking statements involve certain risks and uncertainties that are based on our current plans, which we believe to be reasonable.

And many factors may cause our actual results to be materially different from any future results expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements, including all risk factors that we list in our forms 10-Q, 10-K and certain other documents that we filed with the SEC.

You can find these on the Investor Relations page of our website, which is www.GladstoneCapital.com. On that website, you can also sign up for our email notification service. You can also find our information on the SEC's website and that's at www.sec.gov.

We undertake no obligation to publicly update or revise any of these forward-looking statements whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by law. We remind everybody that today's call is an overview of our results, so we ask that you review our press release and Form 10-Q, again, both issued yesterday for more detailed information. These can be found on our website, in the Investor Relations page at www.GladstoneCapital.com.

Now I will turn the call over the Gladstone Capital's President, Bob Marcotte. Bob?

Bob Marcotte -- President

Thank you, Michael. Good morning, and thank you all for dialing in this morning in anticipation of, well we might have a few more COVID related questions this quarter, let's get into the summary for the results for Gladstone Capital for the quarter ended June 30.

Originations on the quarter totaled $56.5 million, including two new proprietary investments. Repayments and proceeds on exit totaled $17.1 million, and included the exit of three smaller positions. So net originations for the period were $39.4 million.

Interest income rose on the quarter to $11.6 million or up 6% over the prior quarter, with the increase in average investments as the portfolio yield was unchanged at 10.9% as most of our investments are well below the applicable LIBOR floors. Prepayment and dividend income was nominal, so the investment income overall was up slightly to $11.7 million.

Borrowing and administrative costs fell in the period with lower LIBOR rates and unused commitment fees. However, net management fees rose by $900,000 with the reduction of incentive fee credits, resulting in net investment income of $6.1 million or $0.195 per share.

Net assets from operations rose to $15 million or $0.48 per share, which included $9 million of net unrealized portfolio appreciation on the quarter, as the reduction of market-based spreads and strong performers more than offset the weakness in our energy and auto-related investments. For the period, NAV rose to $0.28 per share or 4% to $7.27 per share as of June 30.

With respect to the portfolio. As we discussed last quarter on our call, we were fortunate that our portfolio diversity limited our exposure to the consumer, retail or travel service sectors most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. That said, much of last quarter was focused on working with our companies to make sure appropriate actions were instituted to adjust cost and bolster liquidity to weather any disruptions, including supporting their access to PPP funding.

For the period, we did not experience any payment defaults and our one non-accrual investment -- our non-accrual investments declined to 1.5% of the portfolio at fair value. You will note that we did move one investment to PIC for the next couple of quarters in connection with the PE sponsor contributing new equity to bridge the disruption in order flow from the auto manufacturers it serves.

From a valuation perspective, the top three companies that increased were driven by improved operating performance and they were closely followed by a number of our broadly syndicated investments that recovered, on average, about 60% of the last quarter's depreciation with a reduction in applicable market spreads. Much of the unrealized depreciation this quarter can be attributed to our auto and energy sector related exposures.

The auto plant shutdowns and subsequent ramp-up of order flow has hampered the recovery of our two investments in those sector -- in this sector, which represents about 4.2% of our investments at fair value. However, as both companies are on attractive high profile vehicle platforms and they are continuing to win business and have ample liquidity, we expect these companies to improve in the next couple of quarters.

With respect to our energy sector exposures, the pricing volatility and severe production contraction last quarter impacted our investment in an oilfield chemical distribution business. While we've been through energy swings with this company before, and the team is adept at managing their cost structure, the speed of the production curtailment in the Permian was unprecedented.

Fortunately, many of the shut in wells have already restarted with the improved crude prices and we expect their revenues to have bottomed in May and trend up this quarter. Lastly, the extreme price swings disrupted the volume of energy, property and lease sales last quarter, which negatively impacted our investment in the leading broker of government and auction services for these properties.

The Company has taken significant cost reductions, bolstered liquidity, and is well positioned to benefit from postponed government sales and auctions of distressed and restructured operator properties. The asset mix at the end of the quarter was relatively unchanged, based on the net originations as first-lien loans dropped to 47% at cost and second lien loan exposure increased to 43% at cost.

Our only non-earning asset is our $7.2 million debt investment in B&T, a wireless engineering and contracting business which represents 1.5% of assets at fair value. B&T is well positioned to recover with the increase in wireless 5G expenditures, which we're beginning to see. Since the end of our quarter, our investment in Survey Healthcare of approximately $14 million was prepaid at par, plus a prepayment fee of $300,000. We also sold a $6 million piece of our second lien exposure to Lignetics at par, which represents a significant gain over where this position was marked last quarter.

Turning to the outlook for the balance of 2020, despite the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19, we feel we weathered much of last quarter's challenges and our portfolio composition and diversity, underwriting discipline, and active company management has affirmed our lower-middle market investment focus and position us well to grow.

On the new deal front, we are being cautious regarding any lasting COVID- related financial impacts and we have recently seen a pickup in the level of deal inquiries. Given the current market dislocations and more limited competitive conditions, we expect these opportunities to carry more modest leverage levels and improve yields.

We intend to continue to proactively manage our investment capacity and sell existing assets to support these new investments -- excuse me, sorry -- we intend to sell existing assets to support our new investments to maintain our targeted leverage level, while enhancing our net interest income.

And now I'd like to turn it -- the call over to Nicole Schaltenbrand, the CFO of Gladstone Capital to provide an update on the details of the Fund's financial performance for the quarter.

Nicole Schaltenbrand -- Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer

Thanks, Bob. Good morning, everyone. During the June quarter, total interest income increased $600,000 or 5.7% to $11.6 million, primarily due to an increase in the average balance of our interest bearing investments. The investment portfolio weighted-average balance increased by $24.7 million or 6.1% to $429 million compared to $404.3 million for the quarter ended March 31. The weighted average yield on our interest bearing portfolio was unchanged at 10.9% compared to the prior quarter as the decline in LIBOR had a minimal effect, given interest rate floors and effect in our predominantly floating-rate assets.

Other income decreased by $400,000 compared to last quarter with lower prepayment fees and dividends, resulting in the total investment income for the quarter increasing $200,000 or 2.1% to $11.7 million. Total expenses increased $700,000 or 4.2% quarter-over-quarter, primarily due to a $900,000 decrease in the incentive fee credit granted by the Adviser and small reductions in interest expenses and fees and other expenses.

As a reminder, we continue to credit closing fees received directly to the manager, which were $675,000 last quarter and we continue to provide a credit to reduce the management fees on broadly syndicated investment to 50 basis points, which was $92,000 last quarter.

Net investment income for the quarter ended June 30th, 2020 was $6.1 million, a decrease of 7.1% as compared to the prior quarter, or $0.195 per share and covered a 100% of shareholder distribution. The net increase in net assets resulting from operations was $15 million or $0.48 per share for the quarter ended June 30, compared to a decrease of $27.8 million or $0.89 per share for the prior quarter. The current quarter increase was driven primarily by $9 million of net portfolio appreciation, as Bob covered earlier.

Moving over to the balance sheet. As of June 30th, total assets were $458 million, consisting of $447 million in investments at fair value and $11 million in cash and other assets. Liabilities rose to $231 million as of June 30th and consisted primarily of $133.5 million in borrowings on our credit facility; $57.5 million of 6.125% senior notes due 2023 and $38.8 million of 5.375% senior notes due 2024.

Net assets rose by $8.9 million from the prior quarter-end with $9 million of net realized and unrealized portfolio appreciation. The NAV rose from $6.99 per share at March 31st to $7.27 per share as of June 30th. Our leverage as of June 30th increased from the prior quarter end to 102% of net assets from 86% with the net originations for the period.

As of the end of the quarter, we had an excess of $53 million of current investment capacity and availability under our line of credit. In April, we successfully extended the revolving period end date on the credit facility by six months to July 15th, 2021. Our overall leverage continues to compare favorably and we believe we have sufficient levels of liquidity to support our existing portfolio companies as necessary, and selectively deploy capital in new investment opportunities.

With respect to distributions, Gladstone Capital has remained committed to paying its shareholders a cash dividend. And in July, our Board of Directors declared monthly distributions to our common stockholders of $0.065 per common share per month for July, August and September, which is an annual rate of $0.78 per share. The Board will meet in October to determine the monthly distribution to common stockholders for the following quarter.

At the current distribution rate for our common stock and with a common stock price at about $7.31 yesterday, the distribution run rate is now producing a yield of about 10.7% which continues to be attractive relative to the extraordinary low yields generally available in the market today.

And now, I'll turn it back to David to conclude the presentation.

David J. Gladstone -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Super, Nicole, very nice. Good presentation. Bob and Mike keeping us all up to date. It's a challenging quarter for the participants in leverage lending marketplace these days and Gladstone Capital is no exception. Well, we did well in delivering numbers on this good company, originated $56 million, we had about $17 million in pay down. So we ended up with about $39 million increase in our assets and hopefully all of those will produce some good income over the next six months and we will be able to report to you some good things on that front as well.

We are working hard with our portfolio companies trying to keep the nonperforming assets where they are today, about 1.5% of the total investments. Higher assets drove a nice increase in the Company's core net interest income of about $8.9 million and we've maintained a strong balance sheet, including existing assets making additional capital available to provide for more loans to middle market businesses. That's the business we're in. It's the original business that I started out in many years ago.

In summary, the Company continues to invest in mid-sized private businesses with a good management. Many of these situations are supported by private equity funds, so we hang around with those guys looking to provide the debt that they need to buy something. This gives us an opportunity to make attractive interest paying loans in support of ongoing commitments to pay cash distributions to shareholders.

As I mentioned at the beginning, forecasting today is very difficult because, quite simply, we have no way of knowing which way the state and local governments as well as the national governments are going to do to what's going on. If you walk down some streets in Washington, D.C. you see them all boarded up and we wonder how that's going to un-button at some point in time.

We've given the government the power to do most anything in the name of COVID-19 and that has some good things and bad things with it. But let's stop here and have the operator come on, if you would Michelle, come on and tell people how they can ask some questions about the Company.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Our first question comes from Mickey Schleien of Ladenburg. Your line is open.

Mickey Schleien -- Ladenburg Thalmann -- Analyst

Yes, good morning everyone. First of all, congratulations on what's appears to me to be a very strong quarter given how difficult the environment is. So, well done. I see that your investment activity was much higher in that quarter than over the last several quarters. And I'd like to understand how much of that was from deals in the pipeline that perhaps you've been working on for a while and simply came to fruition now versus opportunistic investing during a period of high dislocation?

Bob Marcotte -- President

Good morning, Mickey. Both of those investments. It takes a while for these deals to come to fruition. I mean, so both of them actually pre-dated the quarter and were adjusted modestly as a result of the quarter activities but feel very comfortable as both of those deals are relatively low leveraged, more like 2s versus 4s in terms of leverage. So we're happy with those investments. Nice yields, but lower risk exposures.

Mickey Schleien -- Ladenburg Thalmann -- Analyst

Okay, thank you for that. That's helpful. Bob, I see that your weighted-average risk rating on your proprietary investments improved, which certainly bucks the trend I've been seeing generally in the sector. Where there some particular outliers that drove up the rating?

Bob Marcotte -- President

Some of those numbers are a little bit lagging since the financial results for the second quarter aren't in the 9 -- the 6/30 numbers, right. We don't have the 6/30 numbers as of 6/30 for all of our companies.

Mickey Schleien -- Ladenburg Thalmann -- Analyst

Right.

Bob Marcotte -- President

So, there is a little bit of a lag in there. The second is, I would attribute mostly to the deals that were recently closed. When we put on deals that are leveraged at less than three, in that order of magnitude, it's certainly going to improve the rating.

And thirdly, per my earlier comments, the appreciation of the top three performers had to do with improved performance. So we had three historical company's dramatically improve their financial performance which is going to weight up the number.

So it may be a little bit of an anomaly, given the timing, but good assets and improvements on some core positions, I think, were the result. But we will definitely go back and make sure we understand what that swing was.

Mickey Schleien -- Ladenburg Thalmann -- Analyst

No, I appreciate the color. That's really interesting. So Bob, your leverage at least in terms of debt to equity now is within your target range, unless you would -- last time I looked, I think you mentioned was 0.9% to 1.25%. And it sounds like from your prepared remarks that you're not willing to go higher into the target range, given the current market conditions, is that correct?

Bob Marcotte -- President

I don't think that that -- I think we are floating around the 1-to-1 leverage net level now. You know, we obviously had some subsequent pre-payments, so it brought us back down I think, gave us about $20 million of additional capacity based on prepayments. We certainly will go back up on leverage, but we are going to, as we go up over 1-to-1, we are going to be looking at our existing assets closely to determine how much further we want to go.

Obviously, we're going to maintain a cushion to deal with any portfolio related matters. Once we get over a certain threshold, we're going to keep an amount for reserve. As you may recall, before we moved our leverage multiple, we typically didn't go much past 80%, even though the rule was, you know, 1-to-1.

So, we're going to keep a cushion to that 1.25% going forward, and I think the last comment that I would make is, we also want to be very careful that, you know, between the line capacity and what's available in the marketplace, to make sure that the marginal funding cost that we are using to fund those new assets is accretive. So, again, you know, it's going to be around or guard railed around the 1-to-1 leverage, and we're going to closely manage it on a go forward basis.

Mickey Schleien -- Ladenburg Thalmann -- Analyst

I do understand that and appreciate it. And David Gladstone mentioned how difficult it is to make forecasts right now, and I realize that the decision to issue common equity takes many factors into account. But you've mentioned cushion several times, and that decision to potentially issue common equity, obviously, would have to take into account the opportunity to put the capital to work. Simply put, do you have appetite to issue common equity, given that the stock is trading above NAV?

Bob Marcotte -- President

That's a tough question, Mickey. I got to say, we're going to have to have some really attractive continued investment opportunities at a 10.7% yield on that stock today.

Mickey Schleien -- Ladenburg Thalmann -- Analyst

Yeah.

Bob Marcotte -- President

When you factor in the marginal debt financing costs, which are probably higher than what's currently in our -- on our book today, it's going to have to be a pretty accretive investment opportunity to be able to cover that marginal funding cost and that marginal equity cost, would we consider it?

Yes, but it's not going to be a significant volume. We obviously believe that there's, you know, there's a path to which this stock is generating a very attractive yield and it should continue to appreciate. We continue to maintain the quality of the portfolio. So, you know, backing up the truck today is probably premature.

Mickey Schleien -- Ladenburg Thalmann -- Analyst

I understand. So, if I could summarize based on those last couple of answers, it sounds like the strategy would be more to, you know, just rotate the portfolio perhaps as repayments come in or from lower yielding investments to higher yielding investments as you find them, while constraining leverage in the midst of all of this uncertainty, is that a fair statement?

Bob Marcotte -- President

That's a good recharacterization Mickey. It's a day-to-day situation that we're managing. I mean, the other thing that I would add is, you know, when we think about issuing equity, we have to anticipate where the market is going. We're already beginning to see some price compression and some competition as the market normalizes.

So, I wouldn't want to issue a bunch of equity in anticipation of a particular spread in the marketplace, and to see that get bid down. So, we're certainly going to manage it very closely. And if we do anything, it may be a small amount under our ATM program, as the market dislocation support.

Mickey Schleien -- Ladenburg Thalmann -- Analyst

Understand. Those are all my questions for this morning. I appreciate your time.

Bob Marcotte -- President

Thanks for calling in.

Mickey Schleien -- Ladenburg Thalmann -- Analyst

And I hope everyone on the team stays healthy. Thanks.

David J. Gladstone -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

We're all in good shape so far. So Michelle, come on and get the next question.

Operator

Our next question comes from Henry Coffey of Wedbush. Your line is open.

Henry Coffey -- Wedbush -- Analyst

Good morning and just kind of following up on Mickey's questions. When new loans are put in front of you, what -- who's looking for capital in this market and or is it just people looking not for capital for growth, but for capital to survive? What is the nature of the beast that comes walking in the door looking for capital right now?

Bob Marcotte -- President

Henry there's a fair amount of folks that are looking to recap out existing lenders. Folks that are under stress, folks that, you know, have come to the end and have had enough, probably had a bump in the road and they've reached their five-year hold period. So, those are tough situations. We generally are not -- we're generally somewhat skeptical in those situations if they've had five years and can't deleverage or payout. It's certainly a telltale sign that we should be careful.

There are certainly some new transactions going on. Folks are beginning to think about how to do diligence in a COVID environment, travel is starting to work and folks are even thinking about doing Zoom diligence calls with management teams, but those transactions are just beginning to percolate. They've been pretty much on hold for the last three to four months.

Where we see, you know, additional opportunities coming on are also in some add-ons. Folks that are in the business and have the opportunity to acquire accretively. But, for the most part, you know, it's still sponsored financing transactions albeit, you know, the overall flow is certainly only beginning to reemerge.

Henry Coffey -- Wedbush -- Analyst

You also talked about spreads tightening. I don't want to characterize the comment, but what if -- what is the correlation right now between actual real life trends in businesses and trends in "bond values and spreads and loan values?" How are those two lining up or is there a disconnect there, in your opinion?

Bob Marcotte -- President

I only can -- I think about it in two ways. The one is, in the broadly syndicated marketplace, we have a number of those investments in our portfolio. They are still marked well below where I would expect them to be. And I think that's indicative of the leverage loan market has not fully reslated, you know, CLO market conditions, investor funds flows have not bid up the syndicated marketplace, as much as I would expect.

You still have assets trading in the 80s, not necessarily the 90s. And, but I think you're also talking about higher levels of leverage, and instruments that don't have quite the same controls and covenants in them and protections that we would require in the current environment. So, that's more of a macro funds flow issue that -- you know, it's going to take longer to resolve. And I think as I mentioned in the comments, we're only back at about 60% of where we marked it down last quarter.

In the direct origination front, where proprietary investments, senior funds, continue to proliferate, we're talking about insurance companies and plenty of folks looking for yield in the current market environment. And to be able to put a unitranche piece of paper on your investment portfolio, and talk about an L plus seven, eight or more. That's a very attractive yield relative to the marketplace. And the leverage levels are probably half of what some of the syndicated levels are.

We are seeing a more active investment activity there. I mean, without sharing names, a major insurance company pulls in four or five guys and opens up the checkbook for $750 million funds last quarter. I mean, take advantage of the marketplace, recognize there's some dislocation and putting on paper with floor protections that is going to yield almost high single-digit rates. That's a good return for that investor. So, we're definitely seeing more interest in the direct proprietary investments than we are -- the market inflating or reflating the leveraged finance syndicated loan market.

Henry Coffey -- Wedbush -- Analyst

And is that going to be -- does that then create a challenge for you in terms of wanting to put out money because you've got an insurance company bid to compete against or is that an opportunity because you'd rather be involved in a more liquid dynamic situation as a -- you know a no bid market can be very scary as we all know.

Bob Marcotte -- President

Yeah. Well, if you've got a $750 million fund and you got four people, you're not going to see the market. You're brand new. You don't have reputation. You don't have the flexibility. So we're still going to compete pretty well in that situation. And we are focused on the lower middle market. They're not going to want to touch a business, at least initially, that might be sub $10 million of EBITDA. So, the competitive barriers for that company getting into where we play is still meaningful. They are a potential participant as that company grows.

So, if we go in and do a unitranche, and the business grows, we will may need a partner, or we may decide it's such a good business that we'll bring in a lower cost senior as part of building a business. So, if it starts at $8 million, and an acquisition or two later is $20 million of EBITDA, we're very happy to start in that transition, grow the business and go from a unitranche player to sub-debt player in that situation, and make money over the entirety of the duration of our investment. So, I'm not worried about it. I will think that it will drive down the margins at the upper end of the size range initially, and that's what we're beginning to see.

Henry Coffey -- Wedbush -- Analyst

Good. That's very helpful. Thank you for your comments.

Bob Marcotte -- President

Thanks for calling in.

Operator

There are no further questions.

David J. Gladstone -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

No further questions.

Operator

[Operator Closing Remarks]

Duration: 34 minutes

Call participants:

David J. Gladstone -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Michael LiCalsi -- General Counsel and Secretary

Bob Marcotte -- President

Nicole Schaltenbrand -- Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer

Mickey Schleien -- Ladenburg Thalmann -- Analyst

Henry Coffey -- Wedbush -- Analyst

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