TEXT - Forest Oil rating unchanged after sale of properties
Jan 7 - Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said today its corporate credit rating on Forest Oil Corp. (Forest; B+/Stable/--) remains unchanged following the company's announcement that it has entered into a definitive agreement to sell its South Texas properties (excluding Eagle Ford acreage) for after-tax proceeds of $325 million. The company intends to use these proceeds to pay down debt. We believe the loss of EBITDA related to these assets will be approximately $40 million per year over the next few years, based on nearly 70 million cubic feet equivalent per day (MMcfe/d) of production (85% of which is tied to weak natural gas prices) and our current price assumption for natural gas of $3 per thousand cubic feet (Mcf) in 2013 and $3.50 per Mcf in 2014. Based on our projections and our assumption that Forest will use all of the proceeds to delever, we forecast that Forest will generate between $475 million and $500 million of EBITDA in 2013 and nearly $450 million of EBITDA in 2014 and that debt will total roughly $1.75 billion, inclusive of operating leases and asset retirement obligations. This corresponds to 3.5x to 4x leverage over the next couple years, which we consider to be appropriate for the rating.