November 9, 2012 / 10:26 PM / 5 years ago

TEXT-S&P cuts Gymboree Corp.'s rating to 'B-'

     -- U.S. children apparel retailer Gymboree's profitability gains will be 
limited despite easing cotton prices, and we expect debt leverage to remain 
above  7x in the next 12 months.  
     -- We are lowering the company's ratings, including the corporate credit 
rating to 'B-' from 'B'.
     -- The ratings outlook is stable based on adequate liquidity and modest 
improvement in operating margins.

Rating Action
On Nov. 9, 2012, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services lowered its corporate 
credit rating on San Francisco-based children's apparel retailer The Gymboree 
Corp. To 'B-' from 'B'. The outlook is stable.

At the same time, we lowered our issue-level rating on the company's $820 
million senior secured term loan to 'B-' from 'B' and left the existing '3' 
recovery rating unchanged. We also lowered the issue-level rating on 
Gymboree's $400 million senior unsecured notes to 'CCC' from 'CCC+' and left 
the '6' recovery rating unchanged. 

The rating on Gymboree continues to reflect our view of the company's "weak" 
business risk profile and "highly leveraged" financial risk profile. We do not 
expect these assessments to change over the next 12 months. 

The weak business risk profile reflects Gymboree's participation in the very 
competitive and fragmented children apparel industry, its vulnerability to 
cotton price inflation, and susceptibility to fashion missteps. Over the past 
six quarters, Gymboree's EBITDA margin fell almost 800 basis points to about 
16.4% on July 28, 2012, as a result of high markdowns related to divergence 
from its product styling, and high cotton prices that hurt gross margin over 
the past four quarters. Although cotton prices have declined significantly 
from peak levels in 2011, we believe the company's margins will likely only 
modestly improve over the next 12 months. Sluggish economic recovery will 
continue to strain consumers discretionary spending in our view, and Gymboree 
will likely remain highly promotional to propel traffic to its stores. 

In addition, recent management changes following the departure of the CEO and 
unsuccessful efforts to fill the CFO position could result in a lack of 
direction for the company and cause another deviation from known product 
styling. Our specific assumptions for the company's performance over the next 
12 months include the following assumptions:
     -- Mid-single-digit percent revenue growth because of flat to modestly 
positive same-store sales growth and incremental sales from new stores.
     -- EBITDA margin improving to slightly over 17% from the current 16.4% 
because of benefits of lower cotton prices, offset by promotional activities 
and growth of the lower-margin Crazy 8 concept.
     -- Capital spending of about $45 million and positive free operating cash 
flows (FOCF) of more than $30 million in 2012.

We view Gymboree's financial risk profile as "highly leveraged." Although we 
anticipate modest margins improvement and small EBITDA gains over the next 
couple of quarters, we believe the company will remain highly leveraged, with 
total debt to EBITDA exceeding 7x in the next 12 months. EBITDA coverage of 
interest will also remain weak at below 2x and funds from operations to total 
debt will be thin at only about 9%.

Liquidity is "adequate" for the company. We believe that cash on hand of 
$54.6million, funds from operations, and about $177 million available under 
the company's $225 million ABL revolver are sufficient to cover cash needs for 
the next 12 to 18 months. We anticipate Gymboree will generate positive FOCF 
during 2012, despite higher capital spending to support aggressive store 

Relevant aspects of the company's liquidity, in our view, are as follows: 
     -- We expect the company's sources of liquidity (including cash and 
unused revolving credit facility capacity) to exceed its uses by 1.2x or more 
over the next 12 months.
     -- We also expect net sources to be positive, even if EBITDA drops 15% 
over the next 12 months.
     -- We expect the company to remain compliant with its financial 
fixed-charge coverage covenant, which applies if excess availability under the 
revolver is less than 12.5% of the borrowing base or $20 million.
     -- The company appears to have a sound relationship with its banks.
     -- Gymboree has minimal debt maturities over the next 12 months. 

Recovery analysis
Standard & Poor's rates Gymboree's $820 million senior secured term loan 'B-' 
with a recovery rating of '3'. This indicates our expectation of meaningful 
(50% to 70%) recovery in the event of a payment default. The rating on the 
company's $400 million senior unsecured notes is 'CCC'. The '6' recovery 
rating on this debt indicates negligible (0% to 10%) recovery in the event of 
a payment default.

Our outlook on Gymboree is stable. Despite our anticipation for modestly 
improving margins, we believe that the sluggish economic recovery and 
increasing competition will continue to strain profitability over the next 12 
months, hindering meaningful improvement of the company's credit measures. 
Still, we expect the company to maintain adequate liquidity.

We could downgrade the company if operating challenges pressure Gymboree's 
free operating cash flow generation, eroding its liquidity. 

An upgrade is unlikely in the next 12 months, given our expectation that 
credit metrics will not improve sufficiently in the face of operational 
challenges. However, we could raise the rating if total debt to EBITDA 
improves toward 6x and coverage of interest increases to more than 2x.

Related Criteria And Research
     -- Business Risk/Financial Risk Matrix Expanded, Sept. 18, 2012
     -- Liquidity Descriptors For Global Corporate Issuers, Sept. 28, 2011
     -- 2008 Corporate Criteria: Analytical Methodology, April 15, 2008

Ratings List
Ratings Lowered
                                To               From
The Gymboree Corp.
 Corporate Credit Rating        B-/Stable/--     B/Stable/--
 Senior Secured                 B-               B
   Recovery Rating              3                3
 Senior Unsecured               CCC              CCC+
   Recovery Rating              6                6

Temporary telephone contact numbers: Mariola Borysiak (973-518-0389); Jayne 
Ross (973-735-3761).
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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