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TEXT-S&P cuts Phoenix Services rating to 'B'
November 13, 2012 / 9:31 PM / in 5 years

TEXT-S&P cuts Phoenix Services rating to 'B'

     -- U.S.-based steel mill services company Phoenix Services International 
LLC intends to raise new bank debt to refinance existing loans and fund 
expansion capital expenditures.
     -- We expect leverage to increase to about 4.5x EBITDA, which we view to 
be indicative of an "aggressive" financial risk profile.
     -- We lowered our corporate credit rating on the company to 'B' from 'B+' 
and we assigned a 'B' issue-level rating to the proposed $305 million 
first-lien bank loans.
     -- The stable outlook reflects our view that EBITDA from new contracts 
will offset losses related to a recent customer bankruptcy, supporting 
leverage in the 4x to 5x EBITDA range over the next 12 months.

Rating Action

On Nov.12, 2012, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services lowered its corporate 
credit rating on Phoenix Services International LLC to 'B' from 'B+'. The 
rating outlook is stable.

At the same time, we assigned a 'B' (same as the corporate credit rating) 
issue-level rating to its subsidiary Metal Services LLC's proposed $275 
million first-lien loan due 2017 and its proposed $30 million first-lien 
revolving credit facility due 2016. The 'B' issue-level rating and the '3' 
recovery rating indicate our expectation for meaningful (50%-70%) recovery in 
the event of default.

The lower rating on Phoenix Services reflects our expectation that leverage 
will increase to about 4.5x EBITDA from about 3.5x due to higher absolute debt 
levels associated with the company's proposed financing. We view this level to 
be indicative of an "aggressive" financial risk profile and more in line with 
the lower rating. 

The corporate credit rating on Pennsylvania-based Phoenix Services reflects 
our view of the company's financial risk as "aggressive" and its business risk 
as "vulnerable." Risks include the company's high customer concentration, as 
well as our view that the outsourced steel services industry is very 
competitive and that the variable component of Phoenix's service contracts 
could expose the company's cash flow to cyclical swings. Our expectation for 
weak global steel production in 2013 reinforces these risks. Still, Phoenix 
Services continues to win new contracts from new and existing customers and it 
maintains good EBITDA margins relative to peers. We believe margins have been 
good, in part, because of the company's success in recovering valuable iron 
during its slag processing operations. Phoenix Services is privately owned and 
does not file public financial statements.

Our 2013 baseline scenario for Phoenix Services assumes the company closes its 
proposed financings as currently contemplated, its debt climbs to about $340 
million (with adjustments), and leverage initially increases by one full turn 
to about 4.5x. Leverage should recede closer to 4x by the end of 2013 if 
external growth offsets some expected diminution in organic cash flow, and if 
the company's relatively strong EBITDA margins (not disclosed) hold up. We 
further expect funds from operation (FFO)-to-debt to be in the 12% to 20%, 
which is consistent with an aggressive financial risk profile.

We expect 2013 revenue and EBITDA to grow 5% to 15% despite weak industry 
conditions. Phoenix Services continues to win new contracts, including recent 
agreements with new customer Nucor Corp. (A/Stable/A-1) and existing customer 
ArcelorMittal (BB+/Negative/B). We expect this external growth to offset a 
loss of cash flow related to the 2012 bankruptcy filing by former customer RG 
Steel LLC (not rated). 

That said, we expect global steel production to be weak in 2013. Domestic 
capacity utilization is currently below 70% (according to the American Iron 
and Steel Institute) and we expect utilization to remain below the industry's 
80% historical average next year. We also expect overseas production to remain 
weak given stagnant European economies and less-robust demand in emerging 
markets. We expect these conditions to particularly weigh on Phoenix Services' 
recently acquired French operations.

Phoenix Services was founded in 2006 to provide steel mill services including 
the handling and processing of slag, a byproduct of steel production. We view 
this business to be highly fragmented and very competitive, with its major 
competitors including Tube City IMS Corp, (BB-/Stable/--) and Harsco Corp. 
(BBB/Negative/A-2). Phoenix Services' operations are geographically diverse: 
the company derives roughly half of pro forma revenues from the U.S. and the 
balance from France, Romania, South Africa and (beginning in 2013) Belgium. 
Its customer concentration is high, as ArcelorMittal accounts for a 
significant amount of revenues.
In our opinion, Phoenix Services has an "adequate" liquidity position pro 
forma for the proposed credit facilities and based on the following 
observations and estimates:

     -- We expect sources of liquidity, including $30 million of revolving 
borrowing capacity and $45 million of excess proceeds from the proposed bank 
loan, to cover estimated uses by more than 1.2x over the next 12 months; and
     -- We expect the leverage covenant under the proposed bank loans will 
initially be set with a 25% EBITDA cushion.

We expect Phoenix Services to retain $45 million of excess cash (pro forma for 
the proposed financing transaction). We also expect the company to have full 
availability under its new $30 million revolving credit facility due 2016. We 
expect related covenants to be set with a 25% EBITDA cushion. Other sources of 
liquidity include our estimate for between $40 million and $60 million of FFO 

Uses of liquidity are expected to include between $60 million and $70 million 
of maintenance and expansion capital expenditures, up to $10 million in 
working capital needs, and about $3 million in mandatory principal 
amortization. Phoenix Services will have no bullet maturities until the 
proposed term loan matures in 2017.

Recovery analysis
The 'B' issue-level ratings and '3' recovery ratings on subsidiary Metal 
Services LLC's proposed $275 million first-lien loan due 2017 and proposed $30 
million first-lien revolving credit facility due 2016 indicate our expectation 
for meaningful (50%-70%) recovery in the event of default. This recovery 
estimate reflects our distressed gross valuation of $200 million that applies 
a 5x multiple to $40 million of distressed EBITDA. Our simulated default 
scenario assumes a global economic downturn in 2015 that severely constrains 
demand for steel and causes Phoenix Services' customers to shut mills and 
renegotiate contracts on terms that are less favorable to Phoenix Services.

The stable outlook reflects our baseline view that leverage is unlikely to 
continue to rise above 4.5x and is more likely to recede gradually, near to 4x 
by the end of 2013. This is driven by new contracts with steel producers 
including Nucor Corp. and cash flow from other operations that ramped up in 
2012 that we expect to support modest improvement in 2013 EBITDA.

An upgrade is unlikely in the next 12 months because we don't expect leverage 
to return to recent lower levels given the company's higher absolute debt 
levels (following the proposed debt transactions) and our expectation for only 
moderate EBITDA growth next year. We would raise our ratings over the longer 
term if the company uses its free cash flow to pay down term debt over time, 
such that leverage falls and is maintained more comfortably in the 3x to 4x 

We would lower our rating if leverage increased above 5x, which we would view 
to be indicative of a highly leveraged financial profile. This could occur if 
the company raised additional debt to fund new capital projects or pay 
distributions to its private equity owner or if another large tenant filed for 
bankruptcy protection. We view the latter scenario to be less likely given 
that the company's largest tenants (including ArcelorMittal and Nucor) are 
rated in the 'BB' category or higher.

Temporary phone numbers: James Fielding (917-734-3477); Megan Johnston 

Related Criteria And Research
     -- Industry Report Card: U.S. Natural Resources Split As Housing Boosts 
Building Products Companies While A Tough Market Puts Coal Miners Deeper In 
The Hole, Oct. 8, 2012 
     -- Issuer Ranking: U.S. Metals And Mining Companies, Strongest To 
Weakest, Oct. 2, 2012 
     -- Methodology And Assumptions: Liquidity Descriptors For Global 
Corporate Issuers, Sept. 28, 2011 
     -- 2008 Corporate Criteria: Analytical Methodology, April 15, 2008
     -- Credit FAQ: Knowing The Investors In A Company's Debt And Equity, 
April 4, 2006

Ratings List

Downgraded; Outlook Action
                                        To                 From
Phoenix Services International LLC
 Corporate Credit Rating                B/Stable/--        B+/Negative/--

                                        To                 From
Phoenix Services International LLC
 Senior Secured                         B                  BB- 
   Recovery Rating                      3                  2

New Rating

Metal Services LLC
 Senior Secured
  US$275 mil bank ln due 06/30/2017     B                  
   Recovery Rating                      3                  
  US$30 mil revolving credit fac bank   B                  
  ln due 12/31/2016                     
   Recovery Rating                      3                  

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

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