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Public Companies in Deep Debt

As the economic downturn has deepened, many companies among the Florida Trend 350 find themselves dealing with both pressure on their revenues and big carrying charges on their debt. Some have landed among 283 companies that Moody’s Investors — a credit ratings, research and risk analysis service — cites as debt-troubled. The companies on Moody’s “bottom rung” list haven’t defaulted and many won’t — the list just identifies those most likely to default.

Following is a rundown of Florida public companies on Moody’s list for the first quarter. Included is information from the companies’ own reports on some of the circumstances that have contributed to their difficulties.

AirTran Holdings (No. 24) Orlando
Air Tran
While lower costs from fleet and route adjustments allowed Orlando-based AirTran to post a record first-quarter profit, its revenue was down 9.1% from the year-earlier period. As of the end of March, the company’s long-term debt totaled nearly $1 billion, of which $798.1 million was related to aircraft. The company says it believes that its liquidity and cash flows will be sufficient to fund operations and financial obligations through the end of 2009.

Quality Distribution (No. 52) Tampa

truckingThe transporter of bulk chemical products and tank cleaning operation is a subsidiary of Quality Distribution Inc. (QDI), formed in 1994 as MTL Inc. QDI’s 2008 revenue was $815.3 million, up $63.7 million, or 8.5%, from 2007 primarily because of an acquisition. The total number of miles driven fell by 11.5%. QDI reported $362.6 million in long-term and current debt at the end of 2008.

Bluegreen Corp. (No. 55) Boca Raton

resortsAs of December, approximately 5.7% of Bluegreen’s vacation ownership receivables and 10.7% of residential land receivables were at least 30 days past due. The company, which develops vacation ownership resorts and residential communities, has about $100 million of debt due in 2009.


Rotech Healthcare (No. 59) Orlando

healthcareIn 2000, the provider of medical equipment filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization because it had jointly guaranteed $2.3 billion of debt of Integrated Health Services, its parent company at the time. Now, seven years after it became an independent company, Rotech has $500 million in long-term and current debt while the federal government has cut Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates for the company’s products.

Spanish Broadcasting System (No. 97) Coconut Grove

microphoneThis operator of more than 20 radio and TV stations has seen its revenue from TV ads increase, but radio advertising revenue has fallen — resulting in a net loss of $328.7 million, a figure more than double the company’s net revenue from radio and TV of $163.7 million in 2008. The company’s $327.8 million in senior secured debt comes due in 2012 or before, with $3.25 million due this year. Last fall, when the company tried to tap $25 million of its credit line with Merrill Lynch, Wachovia and Lehman Bros., it only received $15 million because of Lehman’s bankruptcy. The company says it is “exploring options” to replace the Lehman funding.

Trailer Bridge (No. 103) Jacksonville

trailer bridgeShipping containers from Jacksonville to Puerto Rico and then picking up freight from the Dominican Republic on the return trip uses a lot of fuel. That cost helped drive Trailer Bridge’s expenses up 23.7% in 2008. Revenue for the year didn’t match the growth in expenses, increasing 14.5%, and cash from operations fell to $4.4 million from $12 million in 2007. From those financials, the company must service long-term debt of $111.4 million. The company reported at the end of 2008 that it was not in compliance with deposits it must make into a reserve fund for these bonds. So the company must get permission from the U.S. Secretary of Transportation for certain activities, including buying fixed assets, entering into charters and leases and taking on additional debt.

Source Interlink (unranked) Bonita Springs
motor trend
The 14-year-old marketing, merchandising and fulfillment company for books, magazines, DVDs, CDs and other entertainment media recently settled a number of antitrust lawsuits that alleged certain publishers and distributors tried to squeeze Source Interlink out of the market. The company — which ranked No. 24 in 2007 and recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy — also has been hit by consumer spending cutbacks. Revenue in the third quarter of 2008 fell to $591.7 million with a net loss of $36.6 million, down from third quarter 2007 revenue of $639.1 million and a net loss of $4.5 million in 2007. Source Interlink’s debt totals $2.1 billion, with almost $700 million in current liabilities and $1.4 billion in long-term debt.