New Issue: EMA FixedReset 4.90%+254M490

Emera Incorporated has announced:

that it will issue 12,000,000 Cumulative Minimum Rate Reset First Preferred Shares, Series H (the “Series H Preferred Shares”) at a price of $25.00 per share and at an initial annual dividend rate of 4.90 per cent, for aggregate gross proceeds of $300 million on a bought deal basis to a syndicate of underwriters in Canada led by Scotiabank, CIBC Capital Markets, RBC Capital Markets and TD Securities Inc. Emera has granted to the underwriters an option, exercisable at any time up to 48 hours prior to the closing of the offering, to purchase up to an additional 2,000,000 Series H Preferred Shares at a price of $25.00 per share (the “Underwriters Option”). If the Underwriters Option is exercised in full, the aggregate gross proceeds to Emera will be $350 million.

The holders of the Series H Preferred Shares will be entitled to receive fixed cumulative preferential cash dividends at an annual rate of $1.225 per share, payable quarterly, as and when declared by the board of directors of Emera, yielding 4.90 per cent per annum, for the initial period ending on August 15, 2023. The first of such dividends, if declared, shall be payable on August 15, 2018, and shall be $0.25507 per Series H Preferred Share, based on the anticipated closing of the offering on May 31, 2018. The dividend rate will be reset on August 15, 2023 and every five years thereafter at a rate equal to the sum of the then five-year Government of Canada bond yield plus 2.54 per cent, provided that, in any event, such rate shall not be less than 4.90 per cent per annum. The Series H Preferred Shares are redeemable by Emera, at its option, on August 15, 2023 and on August 15 of every fifth year thereafter.

The holders of Series H Preferred Shares will have the right to convert their shares into Cumulative Floating Rate First Preferred Shares, Series I (the “Series I Preferred Shares”), subject to certain conditions, on August 15, 2023 and on August 15 of every fifth year thereafter. The holders of the Series I Preferred Shares will be entitled to receive quarterly floating rate cumulative preferential cash dividends, as and when declared by the board of directors of Emera, at a rate equal to the sum of the then 90-day Government of Canada treasury bill rate plus 2.54 per cent.

The offering is subject to the receipt of all necessary regulatory and stock exchange approvals. The net proceeds of the offering will be used for general corporate purposes.

This issue was announced almost simultaneously with a new issue from Intact Financial Corporation, a FixedReset 4.90%+255. Barry Critchley remarks:

While the two deals shared similar terms, investors treated them differently. By early afternoon only Intact’s order was completely filled. But sources indicated investors could still post expressions of interest for the Emera offering. On TD Investing’s website, the offering is indicated as open.

This seems quite rational, since the new issue is ridiculously expensive.

according to Implied Volatility Analysis:

Click for Big

According to the analysis above, the fair value is a bit under $24.00 … note, however, that complainers will triumphantly point out that this assigns a value of zero to the Floor Rate Guarantee. But as I stated in the February, 2018, edition of PrefLetter:

It is often asserted that a horrific fall of FixedReset prices is a completely logical expectation; that the 2014-16 bear market was completely justified; that similar experiences will happen again; and that floor rates are an excellent way to protect investors from the decline in income.

This assertion does not make a lot of sense to me. Suppose an investor holds a FixedReset with a coupon rate of 5% and that a decline in government yields makes a reduction to 4% seem both likely and imminent. If the bear market scenario is to play out, this investor and many like him will be selling to avoid experiencing the reset.

But where is this money to be deployed? Yields are already down in the government market and all other fixed income markets will be affected to some degree; corporate-government spreads increased during the recent episode (see Chart FR-63 ), but corporate yields did decline – they just didn’t decline as much. I see no reason for an expectation that FixedReset yields should magically remain constant if the face of global interest rate declines.

However, any increase in the price of the floor-rate issue is capped by the call price. In the simplest scenario, the non-floor issue will remain priced at par and reset to a 4% distribution, while the floored issue will be called; the investor will then have to reinvest his funds … and find that he is reinvesting at contemporary rates and experiencing transaction costs that are not borne by the investor in the non-floored issue. It’s not much of a win!

In order for the floor rate to have value, both issues must be trading at a discount to par; this will give the floored issue room to rise in price on the secondary market. Such a price rise will be determined by the excess yield to be gained over the next five years until the next reset plus, perhaps, an allowance for the possibility that current conditions will persist and give the holder another chance to reset. The benefit will be capped by the distribution rate difference multiplied by the Modified Duration of the issues (which will normally be in the range of 20 to 25), so a price difference of between 20% and 25% for a one percent decline in government yields. However, this potential gain is capped by the potential for a call, so the issues must already be trading at a 20%-25% discount to par for this maximum to be reached … and to work out the value of this scenario, we must then calculate the probability of such a decline in government yields.

Once we see floor-rate issues trading at large discounts in an environment in which a significant decline in government rates has a reasonable probability, I will revisit my opinion of the value of such guarantees. I’m not holding my breath.

However, even those unimpressed by all that “Implied Volatility” blather and tiresome pettifogging regarding Floor Guarantees should be, at the very least, tempted by EMA.PR.A in preference to the new issue. Sure, it only pays 2.555% at present … but it will reset on 2020-8-15 at GOC-5 + 184, or – given today’s GOC-5 yield of 2.33% – 4.17%. It was quoted today at 19.09-25, an Expected Future Current Yield of 5.46%, which ain’t bad for investment grade!

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