TEXT-Fitch affirms Alto Palermo's notes at 'B/RR3'

Wed Jan 9, 2013 2:16pm EST

Jan 9 - Fitch Ratings has affirmed the following ratings of Alto Palermo
S.A. (APSA):

--Foreign currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at 'B-', Rating Outlook Negative;
--Local currency IDR at 'B+', Rating Outlook Negative;
--USD120 million senior unsecured notes due in 2017 at 'B/RR3';
--National scale rating at 'AA+(arg)', Rating Outlook Stable;
--National scale senior unsecured notes at 'AA+(arg)';
--National scale equity rating at '1'.

The 'RR3' recovery rating reflects good recovery prospects in the event of
default. The notching above the soft cap of 'RR4' for bonds issued by Argentine
corporates reflects the company's very strong credit profile and its ability to
continue to operate should a potential economic and political crisis occur in
Argentina.

APSA's foreign currency (FC) IDR continues to be constrained at 'B-' by the 'B-'
country ceiling assigned to Argentina by Fitch. The company's local currency
(LC) IDR is constrained at 'B+' due to the high degree of risk associated with
operating in Argentina's real estate industry. The Negative Rating Outlooks that
have been assigned to the FC and LC IDRs are in line with ones assigned to
Argentina's sovereign ratings and reflect the high degree of uncertainty about
the business climate and economic conditions that should persist throughout
2013.

APSA's 'B+' LC IDR is supported by the company's strong market position in the
Argentine shopping center industry. While debt at APSA is low in relation to
cash flow, Fitch has linked the credit quality of APSA with its more highly
leveraged parent company, IRSA Inversiones y Representaciones S.A. (IRSA).

APSA has a strong business position in the Argentine shopping center industry.
The company operates 13 shopping centers with a gross leasable space of
approximately 309,000 square meters. The high quality of these malls and their
strategic locations result in sales per square meter that exceed the market
average and occupancy rates of more than 98%. APSA's revenues are partially
hedged against consumer inflation, as the company receives a percentage of the
sales made by tenants of its malls. The company's high operating margins are due
to leases that result in the tenants paying direct expenses and a percentage of
the common expenses.

APSA's results are closely correlated with the performance of the economy, which
has proven to be quite volatile. APSA shows some concentration in the near term
for its lease agreements (36% of lease contracts expiring in fiscal year 2013),
as the contracts are generally for 36 months. While this ratio is high for the
industry, APSA's strong market position allows it to renew contracts updating
leasing terms.

Devaluation risk is also present for APSA as most of its cash flow is
denominated in Argentine pesos and a substantial part of its debt is in U.S.
dollars. This risk is partially mitigated by APSA's dollar-denominated asset
portfolio and its long-term debt profile.

APSA's leverage is low and its interest coverage is adequate. At Sept. 30, 2012,
the company's total debt-to-EBITDA ratio was 0.7x, while its EBITDA-to-interest
ratio was 12.7x. APSA had USD125.3 million of total debt, excluding USD32.4
million of convertible notes, which repurchase was approved in the company's
last shareholders assembly on Oct. 31, 2012. Only 5% of the company's debt is
short term. The company had USD50.4 million of cash and marketable securities at
the end of September, covering short-term debt by 7x.

APSA is 95.6% owned by IRSA. On a consolidated basis, IRSA had USD364 million of
sales and generated USD212 million of EBITDA during the fiscal year ended June
30, 2012. At Sept. 30, 2012, IRSA had USD565.5 million of consolidated debt,
resulting in a total debt-to-EBITDA ratio of 2.6x. APSA accounted for only 28%
of IRSA's consolidated debt. IRSA's main debt obligations are USD150 million
first notes maturing in 2017, USD150 million second notes maturing in 2020, and
around USD70 million of third and fourth notes maturing in 2013 and 2014. APSA
also has a USD120 million note maturing in 2017. These notes do not have cross
guarantees.

For this industry, the emphasis of Fitch's methodology is on portfolio quality
and diversity, as well as the size of the asset base. APSA's portfolio of assets
is strong, with book capital of USD343 million as of Sept. 30, 2012. This value
would be higher at market values. These assets are mostly unencumbered, as
secured debt represents less than 5% of its total debt load. The large pool of
unencumbered assets at APSA provides financial flexibility and results in
above-average recovery prospects in the event of default.

During the first quarter of fiscal year ended June 30, 2013 (1Q FYE13), APSA had
USD42.4 million of EBITDA, a 10.7% improvement from 1Q FYE12. The improvement
continues to show the positive performance of the company's shopping centers.

Key Rating and Outlook Drivers

Fitch expects APSA will manage its balance sheet to a targeted of debt-to-EBITDA
ratio under 1.5x. Under a conservative scenario, Fitch estimates the company's
interest coverage to be above 5.0x. APSA's management is intent on maintaining a
conservative financial structure. Fitch estimates that the company's EBITDA
margin will remain above 70%.

A significant increase in APSA's targeted leverage ratio would threaten credit
quality and could result in a negative rating action. APSA's FC IDR could be
affected by an upgrade or downgrade of the Argentine Country Ceiling of 'B-'.

Additional information is available 'www.fitchratings.com'. The ratings above
were solicited by, or on behalf of, the issuer, and therefore, Fitch has been
compensated for the provision of the ratings.

Applicable Criteria and Related Research:
--'Corporate Rating Methodology', dated Aug. 8, 2012;
--'Liquidity Considerations for Corporate Issues', dated June 12, 2007;
--'Parent and Subsidiary Rating Linkage', dated Aug. 8, 2012;
--'Fitch Affirms IRSA's Notes at 'B/RR3', dated Jan. 9, 2013.

Applicable Criteria and Related Research:
Parent and Subsidiary Rating Linkage
Corporate Rating Methodology
Liquidity Considerations for Corporate Issuers
A couple walks along the rough surf during sunset at Oahu's North Shore, December 26, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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