Financial Performance

Icahn Enterprises Facing Downgrade to Junk

Activist investor Carl Icahn's holding company has suffered significant losses on its energy investments, imperiling its credit rating.
Katie Kuehner-HebertFebruary 22, 2016

Standard & Poor’s has warned it may downgrade activist investor Carl Icahn’s holding company to junk status because of losses in Icahn Enterprises’ energy portfolio.

The credit rating agency placed Icahn Enterprises on watch with “negative implications,” saying it had lost “at least $1.4 billion in value” since the end of September. Another downgrade of the company, which is rated BBB-, would put it in junk territory.

“The CreditWatch listing indicates that we believe there is at least a one-in-two likelihood that we may lower the ratings within the next 90 days,” S&P said.

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Icahn Enterprises shares have tumbled about 50% in the past 12 months amid sharp declines in its commodity holdings, including oil and gas producer Chesapeake Energy, natural gas exporter Cheniere Energy, and copper miner Freeport-McMoRan.

The stock fell another 11% Friday on the S&P report, but rallied slightly on Monday, closing at $49.93, up 2.4%.

S&P’s warning of a possible downgrade “is bound to sting the 80-year old investor, who has delivered some of Wall Street’s best returns over the last decades and is as active as ever in pushing corporations into shaking up their business plans,” Reuters said.

Icahn Enterprises holds stakes in Icahn’s investments in industries including autos, energy, metals, rail cars, casinos, food packaging, real estate and home fashion. The billionaire owns about 89% of the company and is its chairman.

In its Jan. 25 review of its Ba3 credit rating for Icahn Enterprises, Moody’s Investors Service said negative trends had weighed on the company in the past year, including the decline in its “energy, rail and automotive segments that have contributed to declining asset value, rising market value based leverage, and reduced income.”

Icahn Enterprises has more than $12 billion in total debt. S&P said Icahn could improve the firm’s creditworthiness by selling shares and diluting his stake.

He could also sell the unfinished Fontainebleau casino on Las Vegas’ strip, which he bought out of bankruptcy in 2010, S&P said.