3 Turbocharged Corporate Bonds

07/20/2011 11:30 am EST

Focus: BONDS

Marilyn Cohen

President & CEO, Envision Capital Management, Inc.

When you need a little more octane in your bond tank, here's Marilyn Cohen of Bond Smart Investor with her top higher-yield plays.

Here are three opportunities to grab some good yields in well-performing companies.

DISH Network
We have recommended DirecTV bonds twice before—a callable issue that was finally called, and then a newer issue.

DirecTV has a great balance sheet and is the best of breed in its space. If you need more yield than DirecTV offers, a runner-up is DISH Network.

DISH is a direct-broadcast satellite subscription television provider with a more leveraged balance sheet and slower growth than Directv. This means more risk…and a higher yield.

DISH has stopped bleeding subscribers. It resolved litigation with Tivo. Recently it raised its customer rates.

The company’s M&A has been heavier than we’d wish. It purchased Blockbuster, and then spent $1.38 billion to acquire TerreStar.

Management has not squandered its free cash flow on excess dividends and share repurchases. DISH has about $3.4 billion in cash and securities available. This amount can easily extinguish the $1.5 billion of bonds maturing through 2013.

The satellite TV/broadcasting business is cutthroat. However, DISH has been a visible and viable participant with strong EBITDA and wide profit margins.

Dish Network 7.125% notes due February 1, 2016 (CUSIP: 27876GBE7) are priced at 106.25 for a 5.55% yield to maturity.

Polypore International
Have you ever heard of Polypore International? If so, it was probably related to replacement batteries or health care dialysis.

This company manufactures and develops polymer-based membranes for filtration and separation processes used in a variety of industries. Energy storage is 67% of sales, while the separation media accounts for the other 33%.

Polypore does have a leveraged balance sheet. However, liquidity is fine. Cash flow will be used for their new production facilities. Sales and earnings are both increasing.

For investors needing yield without wild risk, this publicly traded company’s bonds are for you.

Polypore International 7.50% notes due November 15, 2017 are priced at 106.25 for a yield to maturity of 6.28%. The notes are callable beginning in 2013.

Level 3 Financing
My third recommendation is more turbocharged than most. It’s a survivor that is on positive watch by both Moody’s and S&P.

Level 3 Financing is an integrated communications company. Its fiber optics division sells long-haul services for data, Internet, voice, and content delivery.

Not content to remain just a domestic provider, Level 3 recently acquired Global Crossing (the same company made famous in the tech bubble) in an exchange of stock. It now serves the US and 23 countries.

We believe this mombo-combo couple will have cost synergies of over $325 million if properly integrated. Leverage is high, but the growth of the business after integrating Global Crossing’s markets presents an interesting high-yield proposition.

Level 3 8.75% notes due February 15, 2017 (CUSIP: 527298AL7) are priced at 103.25 for a 8% yield to maturity. The notes are callable beginning February 15, 2012 at 104.38.

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