November 27, 2012 / 9:30 PM / 5 years ago

TEXT-S&P cuts ADT Corp's CCR to 'BBB-', outlook is stable

8 Min Read

Overview
     -- U.S. residential and small business alarm monitoring company ADT Corp. 
announced that its board of directors authorized a $2.0 billion share 
repurchase program over three years, expiring in November 2015. The company 
intends to finance the program with debt and free operating cash flow, which 
will result in an increase in leverage. 
     -- We are lowering the corporate credit rating on ADT to 'BBB-' from 
'BBB'.
     -- We are also lowering the short-term rating to 'A-3' from 'A-2'.
     -- The stable outlook reflects ADT's clear market leadership position and 
our expectation that its recurring revenue model will result in consistent 
free cash flow generation.

Rating Action
On Nov. 27, 2012, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services lowered its corporate 
credit and senior unsecured ratings on Boca Raton, Fla.-based residential and 
small business alarm monitoring company ADT Corp. to 'BBB-' from 'BBB'.
At the same time, we lowered our short-term rating on ADT to 'A-3' from 'A-2'.
The outlook is stable.

Rationale
The downgrade reflects ADT's plan to repurchase $2.0 billion of shares over 
three years, which it intends to finance with a mix of debt and cash flow. We 
believe the planned repurchase indicates a more aggressive financial policy 
that will result in adjusted leverage in the mid-3x area, compared with about 
2.7x as of Sept. 30, 2012.

The rating on ADT reflects the company's "satisfactory" business risk profile 
(according to Standard & Poor's Ratings Services' criteria definitions), 
characterized by its leading market position and strong brand recognition. 
ADT's presence in the highly competitive U.S. security alarm monitoring 
industry, with high customer attrition rates, somewhat offsets these business 
strengths. The rating also reflects ADT's "significant" financial risk 
profile, which we have revised from the previous "intermediate" assessment. 

ADT's business risk profile is satisfactory. The company has strong brand 
recognition, scale, and a leading market position in the residential alarm 
monitoring industry. It is currently approximately 6x larger than its 
next-largest competitor, and we expect it to retain its market share in the 
near-to-intermediate term. In addition, favorable industry growth trends (even 
during a recession) and significant revenue visibility provide support for our 
business evaluation.

Business risks include a relative lack of revenue diversification (since ADT 
mainly serves residential markets in the U.S and Canada), as well as the 
emergence of new competition as cable companies have become more active in the 
alarm monitoring space. In addition, ADT currently has a somewhat above 
industry average attrition rate of 13.8% in the 12 months ended September 
2012. However, we expect that additional revenue from price increases will 
offset revenue lost due to attrition. 

As of September 2012, ADT reported last-12-month revenues of $3.2 billion, a 
3.8% increase from the prior-year period. We expect a low- to mid-single-digit 
revenue growth in 2013 due to growth in average revenue per user (ARPU), 
resulting from increased adoption of ADT Pulse, as well as expansion of 
offerings in home automation. We expect adjusted annual EBITDA margins to be 
about 30% in the near term. We also believe that an increasing mix of higher 
margin home automation products, combined with annual price increases, will 
contribute to ADT's profitability measures over the longer term. Our 
assessment of the company's management and governance is "satisfactory".
 
We revised our view of ADT's financial risk profile to "significant" from 
"intermediate," reflecting an increase in expected pro forma adjusted debt to 
EBITDA to the mid-3x area in 2013 from 2.7x in September 2012. Our adjusted 
EBITDA reflects the ongoing purchase of customer accounts necessary to offset 
attrition and is reduced by deferred costs related to customer account 
creation. Cash flow metrics are consistent with a 'BBB-' rating, however we 
expect that they will be at the low end of the range for several years. We 
expect the ratio of free operating cash flow (FOCF) to adjusted debt to be in 
the low-double-digit area over the next two years.

Standard & Poor's notes that ADT's willingness to issue a material amount of 
debt to finance a share repurchase program represents a significant departure 
from the more prudent financial policies that supported the prior ratings. 
However, we believe that ADT will scale back its debt-financed share 
repurchase activity if it experiences unexpected operating shortfalls.

Liquidity
We view ADT's liquidity as "adequate." We expect ADT to generate sufficient 
operating cash flow to fund capital expenditures of about $1 billion annually, 
which includes dealer-generated customer accounts and subscriber system 
assets. However, we expect that the company will use the FOCF that it 
generates to fund dividends and share repurchases rather than to repay debt.
 
Liquidity sources consist of approximately $234 million of cash on hand as of 
Sept. 30, 2012, reliable free cash flow generation, and availability under the 
$750 million revolving credit facility. Other relevant aspects of ADT's 
liquidity, in our view, include the following:
     -- The company intends to repurchase $2.0 billion of shares over the next 
three years.
     -- We expect sources of cash to exceed uses by more than 1.2x for the 
near term.
     -- Net sources are likely to be positive, even if EBITDA declines by 20%.
     -- The current rating does not incorporate any material business 
acquisitions.
     -- We believe ADT could absorb low-probability, high-impact shocks.

Outlook
The stable outlook reflects ADT's clear market leadership position and our 
expectation that its recurring revenue model will result in consistent free 
cash flow generation. We could lower the rating if adjusted debt to adjusted 
EBITDA is likely to remain above the 4x area on a sustained basis because of 
weaker operations or incremental debt taken on to support increased 
shareholder returns, acquisitions, or accelerated growth plans. A higher 
rating would be unlikely for the near-to-intermediate term, based on current 
leverage levels, and our expectation of additional debt-financed share 
repurchase activity in 2014 and 2015. Upside rating potential would not be 
considered until the company reduces adjusted leverage such that debt to 
EBITDA is in the mid-2x area on a sustainable basis.

Related Criteria And Research
     -- Business Risk/Financial Risk Matrix Expanded, Sept. 18, 2012
     -- Liquidity Descriptors For Global Corporate Issuers, Sept. 28, 2011
     -- Use Of CreditWatch And Outlooks, Sept. 14, 2009
     -- Criteria Guidelines For Recovery Ratings, Aug. 10, 2009
     -- 2008 Corporate Criteria: Analytical Methodology, April 15, 2008
     -- 2008 Corporate Criteria: Rating Each Issue, April 15, 2008
     -- 2008 Corporate Criteria: Ratios And Adjustments, April 15, 2008




Temporary contact numbers: Katarzyna Nolan (917-679-5491); Martha Toll-Reed 

Ratings List
Downgraded
                                        To                 From
ADT Corporation (The)
 Corporate Credit Rating                BBB-/Stable/A-3    BBB/Stable/A-2
 Senior Unsecured                       BBB-               BBB
 Commercial Paper                       A-3                A-2


Complete ratings information is available to subscribers of RatingsDirect on 
the Global Credit Portal at www.globalcreditportal.com. All ratings affected 
by this rating action can be found on Standard & Poor's public Web site at 
www.standardandpoors.com. Use the Ratings search box located in the left 
column.

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