NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Five-year credit default swaps (CDS) on Rite Aid Corporation (Rite Aid) are trading at all-time tight levels, according to Fitch Solutions. The sharp drop follows last week's announcement by Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. that it will acquire all outstanding shares of Rite Aid.
Rite Aid CDS tightened 65% or 218 basis points over the course of last week and are now trading at 112 basis points. The current spread levels are the tightest observed over the span of Fitch Solutions' CDS pricing time series for Rite Aid since 2006. The steep drop in cost to protect Rite Aid five-year senior bonds indicates that investors suspect a lower risk of default. We note that volatility across the board in CDS trading is common.
Fitch Ratings Oct. 28 placed its ratings on Rite Aid on Rating Watch Positive. The acquisition is expected to close in second half 2016, subject to approval by Rite Aid shareholders and antitrust regulators.
After pricing consistently at 'BB-' levels over the past year, CDS on Rite Aid are now trading in line with 'BBB-' levels, in investment-grade territory. Fitch currently rates Rite Aid's long-term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) 'B'.
Fitch would expect to upgrade Rite Aid's existing debt to the low 'BBB' category assuming the merger closes as contemplated and there are no material changes to Fitch's expectations. If the merger is terminated, Rite Aid sustaining positive comparable store sales and EBITDA in the $1.5 billion range or better -- which would enable to company to further reduce debt and reducing adjusted debt/EBITDAR to between 5.3x and 5.7x -- may lead to a positive rating action.
Additional information is available on www.fitchratings.com.
The above article originally appeared as a post on the Fitch Wire credit market commentary page. The original article, which may include hyperlinks to companies and current ratings, can be accessed at www.fitchratings.com. All opinions expressed are those of Fitch Ratings.