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Marriott International, the well-known hotelier, saw operating losses in its third quarter of 2009, as a result of its venture to move into financing time-shares during a slowing real estate market. In addition, the sluggish economy has not helped its primary business segment that caters to cash-based lodging for business and leisure travelers. As a result, Marriott’s credit profile shows a somber ‘BBB-‘ debt rating assigned to its long-term debt, which some describe as on the border between investment and junk bond status. In fact, some analysts are worried that Marriott may violate its key loan covenant: its leverage ratio.

QUESTIONS:

  1. What is a junk bond?
  2. Why is this borderline rating a bad thing for Marriott?
  3. Explain what a loan covenant ratio is. Assuming that Marriott’s covenant is tied to either the debt to equity ratio or the cash debt coverage ratio, describe how aggressively managing costs and accelerating debt reduction would help Marriott avoid a violation of its covenant.

SOURCE: Phillips, D. “Timeshare Business Unwelcome Guest at Marriott International,” BNET – Companies in the Buzz (Retrievable online at http://industry.bnet.com/travel/10003824/timeshare-business-unwelcome-guest-at-marriott-international/)

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