Standard Pacific Homes' stock remained depressed on Monday after falling precipitously Friday, Jan. 11, following rumors the company has hired bankruptcy expert Millard Buckfire & Co.
As of midday Monday, Jan. 14, the stock was trading at $1.90, approximately 24% below the $2.50 range on Jan. 10, and a world lower than the $25 range it was selling for a year ago.
"The company's position is we don't comment on rumors," said Dan Hilley of Abernathy MacGregor Group, Standard Pacific's outside public relations firm. "The company does use outside advisors from time to time, but we don't comment on them publicly." Standard Pacific will be reporting earnings in a couple of weeks as well, further restraining its ability to comment now, Hilley said.
Like all big builders, especially those heavily invested in California and Florida, Standard Pacific has been struggling with the depressed market. But some market watchers have singled it out as being potentially more troubled because it has had to make recent payments to bail out some of its troubled, yet opaque, joint ventures in California. The company has said it has $500 million of recourse exposure to joint venture debt should it go bad. Like other builders, it has also had to renegotiate its debt terms with lenders several times.
A string of big bank loans that will start coming due this year has also made investors nervous about the state of the company's finances. In past conference calls, the company has projected that it will be able to make good on its debts next year and pay down its other credit lines as well.
Standard Pacific has been diligently gathering cash to pay off other debt by selling land in Texas and Arizona, reducing home prices to move inventory, suspending stockholder dividends, and even selling convertible bonds last fall–a move it had to facilitate by offering to loan stock to investors to be sold short in order to hedge their bets in case the company's fortunes should go down rather than up.