By Dow Jones Business News, February 28, 2013, 06:05:00 PM EDT
By Patrick McGee
Five highly rated companies sold a combined $12.5 billion of bonds in the third-busiest session of the year on
The spate of deals was led by international mining company Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. ( FCX ), which priced a $
6.5 billion deal to fund the acquisition of Plains Exploration & Production Co. ( PXP ), a purchase announced late last
Coca-Cola Co. ( KO ) placed a $2.5 billion deal, priced in three parts including five- and 10-year bonds yielding 1.194%
and 2.546%, respectively. Demand was so strong that its two-year floating-rate tranche will pay investors 0.02
percentage point less than the three-month London interbank offered rate, or Libor, which is currently 0.29%. It is just
the second company, after Walt Disney Co. (DIS) on Feb. 12, to sell bonds below the Libor rate this year.
Floating-rate bonds feature interest payments that reset every quarter. If interest rates rise this year--as many are
expecting--so do floating-rate bond payments. By contrast, the interest on fixed-rate bonds is locked in, so if rates
rise, the value of these bonds declines. Bond values move inversely to yields.
"The fear is that, at some point, when interest rates begin to rise, investors will feel price depreciation in their
portfolio. If you purchase floating-rate notes, you can alleviate that concern," said Jim Barnes, senior fixed-income
manager at National Penn Investors Trust Co.
Dutch lender ING Bank NV sold $1 billion of three-year notes including floating-rate notes paying 0.95 percentage
point over Libor and fixed-rate bonds yielding 1.445%.
New issuance had dried up in the prior two sessions after Italy's uncertain election outcome prompted a run to safe-
haven Treasurys. That helped send corporate-bond yields, which closely follow Treasury yields, falling. They have lost
0.09 percentage point over the past week, to 2.75%, according to Barclays PLC (BCS, BARC.LN). The drop in yield, plus a
return in risk appetite, made Thursday an appealing day to sell bonds.
Phoenix-based Freeport-McMoRan's four-part bond deal was the largest corporate-bond offering since November, when
pharmaceutical company AbbVie Inc. ( ABBV ) borrowed $14.7 billion. It is also the company's largest deal ever, surpassing
the $6 billion deal it priced in March 2007, according to Dealogic.
The deal featured $1.5 billion of five-year notes, $1 billion of seven-year notes, $2 billion of 10-year bonds and $2
billion of 30-year bonds. Yields ranged from 2.337% to 5.481%.
The bonds are expected to be rated Baa3 by Moody's Investors Service and BBB by Standard & Poor's Ratings Services and
Also, Canadian telecommunications company Rogers Communications Inc. (RCI, RCI.A.T, RCI.B.T) borrowed $1 billion in
its first U.S. deal since 2008. It sold $500 million of 10-year bonds yielding 3.018% and $500 million of 30-year bonds
And Ohio-based FirstEnergy Corp. ( FE ) was on track to borrow $1 billion due in five and 10 years.
Write to Patrick McGee at firstname.lastname@example.org
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