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Fitch Rates GenCorp's New Convertibles; Rtg Outlook Positive.



Business Editors

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--April 1, 2002

Fitch Ratings Fitch Ratings

An international rating agency for financial institutions, insurance companies, and corporate, sovereign, and municipal debt. Fitch Ratings has headquarters in New York and London and is wholly owned by FIMALAC of Paris.
 has assigned a 'B+' rating to GenCorp's new subordinated convertible notes, which the company intends to issue under Rule 144A Rule 144A

A Securities & Exchange Commission rule modifying a two-year holding period requirement on privately placed securities to permit qualified institutional buyers to trade these positions among themselves.
, and has affirmed its 'BB' rating on GenCorp Inc.'s (GY) senior debt. The Rating Outlook is changed to Positive from Stable. The ratings and outlook reflect GenCorp's position in the favorable fa·vor·a·ble  
adj.
1. Advantageous; helpful: favorable winds.

2. Encouraging; propitious: a favorable diagnosis.

3.
 defense market, particularly in missile defense Missile defence is an air defence system, weapon program, or technology involved in the detection, tracking, interception and destruction of attacking missiles. Originally conceived as a defence against nuclear-armed ICBMs, its application has broadened to include shorter-ranged ; the decrease in debt levels since the Draftex acquisition; progress in monetizing substantial real estate holdings; and indications of successful restructurings at GDX GDX Magadan, Russia - Magadan (Airport Code)
GDX Gamma Delta Chi (fraternity)
GDX Generic Digital Crosspoint
 and AFC (1) (Application Foundation Classes) A class library from Microsoft that provides an application framework and graphics, graphical user interface (GUI) and multimedia routines for Java programmers. . Concerns center on the ongoing integration of the Draftex acquisition; a competitive automotive market; environmental liabilities; and potential acquisitions.

As of February 28, 2002, GenCorp's financial flexibility included cash of $54 million and availability of $22 million under its credit facility, offset by $26 million in current maturities and short-term debt Short-term debt

Debt obligations, recorded as current liabilities, requiring payment within the year.
. Total debt reached high levels earlier in fiscal year 2001 ($481 million at 8/31/01 after the Draftex acquisition), but since then GenCorp has reduced debt nearly by half with proceeds from the sale of its EIS (1) (Executive Information System) An information system that consolidates and summarizes ongoing transactions within the organization. It provides top management with all the information it requires at all times from internal and external sources.  division for $315 million. Debt at 2/28/02 was $246 million and total debt to capital was 44%. For fiscal year 2001 leverage, as defined by Debt-to-EBITDA, was 2.1x, and interest coverage was 3.1x. Paying down the debt in late 2001 will lead to materially lower interest expense in 2002, as well as a marked improvement in credit statistics even if operations remain stable. The company recently announced its intention to issue $100 million of convertible subordinated notes due in 2007. This offering should lower GY's interest payments as well as supporting potential acquisition activity. The company will use the proceeds to pay down the balance of Term Loan C and to reduce the amount outstanding under the revolver revolver: see small arms.
revolver

Pistol with a revolving cylinder that provides multishot action. Some early versions, known as pepperboxes, had several barrels, but as early as the 17th century pistols were being made with a revolving chamber to
. Total maturities are $17 million in FY2002 and $22 million in FY2003, assuming Term Loan C is paid down with the proceeds from the subordinated convertible offering.

In October 2001, GenCorp closed the sale of its Aerojet Electronic & Information Systems (EIS) business to Northrop Grumman Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) is an aerospace and defense conglomerate that is the result of the 1994 purchase of Grumman by Northrop. The company is the third largest defense contractor for the U.S.  for $315 million, generating a pretax pre·tax  
adj.
Existing before tax deductions: pretax income.

pretax adj [profit] → vor (Abzug der) Steuern 
 gain of $206 million. The transaction significantly improved GenCorp's capital structure as the gain increased equity and cash proceeds reduced debt. Fitch considers the transaction a prudent strategic move since it allows Aerojet to focus on its propulsion Propulsion

The process of causing a body to move by exerting a force against it. Propulsion is based on the reaction principle, stated qualitatively in Newton's third law, that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
 business, which has a better competitive position than the EIS business, and to focus its operation geographically in the Sacramento area. However, the transaction materially lowered GenCorp's footprint in the aerospace & defense industry since EIS accounted for the bulk of GenCorp's A&D revenues. Excluding the $398 million in revenues EIS contributed in 2001, GenCorp's A&D sales were only $207 million, excluding real estate sales. Fitch expects GenCorp to explore acquisition opportunities to increase its size in the A&D industry. Excluding the effects of the EIS transaction, Fitch believes sales will increase approximately 30% in 2002 on the back of strong contract wins in 2001. Fitch expects margins on a reported basis to decline due to lower pension income, but excluding this non-cash item, margins should be steady. The company should do well in the favorable defense spending environment, particularly as a result of its involvement in missile defense. Two contingencies remain with GenCorp following the EIS sale: environmental liabilities related to the EIS facilities and a purchase price dispute with Northrop. Northrop has proposed a purchase price reduction of $42 million, which GenCorp disputes. An arbitrator arbitrator n. one who conducts an arbitration, and serves as a judge who conducts a "mini-trial," somewhat less formally than a court trial. In most cases the arbitraror is an attorney, either alone or as part of a panel.  will most likely decide the issue.

The GDX Automotive segment faced a challenging year in 2001 due to competitive auto market conditions and integration efforts related to the acquisition on Draftex, which GenCorp purchased in December 2000 for $205 million. The acquisition gave GDX a broader customer and geographic base. In 2001 GenCorp initiated restructuring programs at both GDX and Draftex. The restructuring has included closing three manufacturing facilities; consolidating some facilities; and reducing headcount by 1500. The aggressive restructuring lowered the segment's cost structure by approximately $60 million, which Fitch expects should allow GDX to achieve 5% margin levels for 2002, with the improvement weighted toward the second half. However, 2002 operating margins Operating Margin

A ratio used to measure a company's pricing strategy and operating efficiency.

Calculated by:
 will remain lower than the segment's potential. First quarter results illustrated the initial benefits of the restructuring. Operating income Operating Income

The profit realized from a business' own operations.

Notes:
This would not include income from things such as investments in other firms. Also referred to as operating profit or recurring profit.
 improved $13 million versus 1Q01, generating a 3.2% operating margin. GDX's first quarter performance was encouraging and it is a key consideration in changing the Rating Outlook to Positive.

AFC has a much-improved outlook for 2002. In December AFC became a wholly owned subsidiary Wholly Owned Subsidiary

A subsidiary whose parent company owns 100% of its common stock.

Notes:
In other words, the parent company owns the company outright and there are no minority owners.
 of GenCorp when the parent repurchased NextPharma's 40% stake in AFC. As a result of the repurchase, AFC is now a separate reporting segment of GenCorp. AFC also embarked on a restructuring program in 2001, reducing headcount by more than 40%. With these cost reductions and several new products in the market, AFC appears to be on sounder footing in 2002. Fitch expects AFC's sales to increase to the $45-$50 million range in 2001. Fitch believes AFC should achieve positive operating income in 2002 because of the cost savings from the workforce reductions, marketing cost savings from the termination of the NextPharma relationship, lower start-up costs, and higher volumes. Sales and operating income will be weighted toward the second half.

GenCorp has extensive real estate holdings, although environmental obligations slow the realization of the value associated with these holdings. During 2001 GenCorp took several steps toward monetizing some of its real estate assets. First, in September it reached an agreement with the EPA EPA eicosapentaenoic acid.

EPA
abbr.
eicosapentaenoic acid


EPA,
n.pr See acid, eicosapentaenoic.

EPA,
n.
 to remove 2600 acres in Sacramento from Superfund site designation. The EPA subsequently filed the agreement in court, and final approval is expected in April. Second, GenCorp sold 1100 acres in November for $28 million generating a pre-tax gain of $23 million. This acreage is outside the Superfund site, and is unrelated to the 2600 acres under the EPA agreement. Real estate sales during 2001 totaled $36 million and pre-tax profits were $26 million, significant increases from the $6 million in sales and $3 million in profit in 2000. The company announced that it has hired an executive to head its real estate operations.

On January 22, GenCorp announced it would investigate the accounting practices at two GDX plants, and the company delayed the release of earnings and the 10-K by several weeks. The results of the investigation indicated that accounting errors occurred primarily at one plant and consisted of erroneous erroneous adj. 1) in error, wrong. 2) not according to established law, particularly in a legal decision or court ruling.  accounting for customer-owned tooling, inventory, and liability recognition. As a result of the investigation, GenCorp restated financial results for 1999, 2000, and the first nine months of 2001. Fitch believes the accounting review was comprehensive and the results have not materially affected the company's credit quality.

Headquartered in Sacramento, GenCorp is a technology-based manufacturing company that operates in three business segments: GDX Automotive (54% of 2001 sales), Aerospace and Defense (43%) and Fine Chemicals (3%). Aerospace & Defense (Aerojet) contract and funded backlogs at year-end were approximately $603 million and $366 million, respectively.
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Date:Apr 1, 2002
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