Big difference: the companies that really need money, can get it.
If you remember, back in the old days a dozen years ago, there was very little money for the companies that needed it most, especially the banks. The banks went on missions to find deep-pocketed sheiks and wealthy Koreans and sovereign wealth funds. Lehman scoured the world looking for a partner before the government mistakenly shut it down to punish their recklessness, something many still deny but is true. Morgan Stanley (MS) got Mitsubishi UFJ Financial (MUFG) as a partner. Goldman Sachs (GS) and Bank of America (BAC) drew to attention of Warren Buffett. But GM (GM) ? Washington Mutual? Wachovia? Bear Stearns? They didn't make it.
It's different this time. Carnival (CCL) , despite ships in the water, unable to dock, because of Covid-19, despite a budding Australian criminal investigation of the Ruby Princess because of the 11 deaths and 662 infections from the cruise, sold 71.8 million shares for $8 and attracted a 8.2% stake from a Saudi wealth fund in that very successful fund raise. They sold about $4 billion in straight debt with an 11.5% coupon due 2023. And it got almost $2 billion in a 5.75% senior convert. That's quite a haul given that they can't do business.
Then this morning I listened to the CEO of Slack (WORK) who came out and said he got tons of money from the public markets, an upsized $750 million in .5% convertible notes. Slack! A company that Microsoft (MSFT) is gunning for. I can't believe how easy that happened. They only asked for $600 million.
I can see now that a lot of companies feel the debt markets are open that didn't think they were just last week. I see the oil companies getting relief. I guess they think that public offerings are in the offing. I wonder if the hotel and restaurant industry thinks it has an opportunity, I mean if Carnival can get money, who can't get money?
Remember I am not talking about the Payroll Protection Program which helps small business. I am talking about huge companies with definitive cash crunches like Carnival being showered with money.
Prologis (PLD) , which is on Mad Money tonight, talks in its conference calls about how much smarter businesses are than last time around. They managed their maturities better. They kept their cash, husbanding it for a rainy day. They learned and that's why things are better this time.
Plus, we now have companies like FAANG, where having money on hand is just a fact of life. Apple (AAPL) , Alphabet (GOOGL) , and Facebook (FB) have so much money they can do whatever they want EXCEPT go on a buying spree because the government is watching. How much different is that than the shotgun wedding that the FDIC and Treasury and the Fed arranged for a JP Morgan (JPM) or a Bank of America, however ill-fated they were.
Now maybe we are simply at the beginning of the queue and when Royal Caribbean (RCL) or Norwegian (NCLH) comes to the market the money might not be there. Maybe they can hold out until people forget what happened here. Maybe the whole thing was just a big Covid-19 mistake and once it's behind them they will be generating huge returns.
Maybe the Slack deal is the best opportunity for hedge funds to get a tiny bit of yield and some upside.
To me what stands out is that given the burst of buying in the stock market there's an appetite for risky debt, something that wasn't the case 12 years ago. It could make the difference if the debt and equity markets remained thawed after a brief period of freezing.
(Microsoft, Goldman Sachs, Apple, Alphabet, Facebook and JP Morgan are holdings in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS member club. Want to be alerted before Jim Cramer buys or sells these stocks? Learn more now.)