Fitch Affirms Construtora Andrade Gutierrez's IDR at 'BBB-/AA(bra)'; Outlook Stable

  Fitch Affirms Construtora Andrade Gutierrez's IDR at 'BBB-/AA(bra)'; Outlook   Stable  Business Wire  SAO PAULO -- April 15, 2014  Fitch Ratings has affirmed the ratings of Construtora Andrade Gutierrez S.A. (CAG) and related issuances as follows:  CAG  --Foreign Currency Issued Default Rating (IDR) at 'BBB-';  --Local Currency IDR at 'BBB-';  --National Scale Rating at 'AA(bra)'.  Andrade Gutierrez International (AGI)  --USD500 million senior unsecured notes guaranteed by CAG due in 2018 at 'BBB-'.  The Outlook for the corporate ratings is Stable.  Key Rating Drivers  CAG's investment grade ratings reflect its conservative financial profile supported by its track record of strong liquidity, adequate capital structure, and satisfactory margins in the engineering and construction industry. The company benefits from a long sustainable increase of operations and favorable business position as the second largest construction company in Brazil. Fitch expects CAG to maintain reduced net leverage ratios, manageable debt amortization profile, and positive free cash flow.  The ratings also incorporate CAG's sizable backlog of projects which supports around four years of operations. The company is exposed to concentration risks, as 82% of its backlog is linked to the public sector and 62% comes from its 10 largest projects. Fitch also takes into account the inherent volatility of the heavy construction segment, and its moderate exposure to non-investment grade countries.  The ratings are constrained by CAG's high off-balance-sheet debt guarantees of BRL2 billion offered to affiliated companies of Andrade Gutierrez Group (AGG). Potential pressure in terms of cash disbursements related to the entire amount of those guarantees is mitigated by the mature stage and quality of the assets the group invests. These assets are in industries with predictable results and characterized by a track record of strong dividend distribution, which are expected to cover 70% of the guaranteed obligations by CAG and mitigate pressures over its liquidity and cash flow. CAG is the main operating company of AGG, one of the main conglomerates in Brazil, with operations in heavy construction and stakes in assets within telecommunications, power, water and sewage and toll road.  Historical Robust Liquidity  CAG has a conservative liquidity strategy. In December 2013, the company's cash and marketable securities totaled BRL2.2 billion, slightly higher than the BRL1.9 billion of 2012 and equivalent to a sound coverage of 260% of its short-term debt of BRL852 million. The company has total debt maturities of BRL1 billion in 2014 and 2015, which is only 46% its cash balance at the end of 2013. This liquidity is highly positive, given the volatility of the heavy construction sector. Fitch expects CAG to be successful in its strategy of preserving an extended debt maturity profile and keep a relevant cash balance to support growth of its activities going forward.  Adequate Capital Structure  CAG has been successful in maintaining its adequate leverage level. In December 2013, the company's total and net adjusted leverage were 5.7x and 2.0x, respectively and according to Fitch's methodology, which are broadly in line with the 5.4x and 2.1x attained in 2012.  CAG's net debt is manageable, despite the BRL2 billion of guarantees offered by the company. Fitch expects that the resources to support 70% of the guaranteed debt should come from the group's participation in assets with mature operations in sectors with reasonable results predictability and a strong track record for dividend distributions. The remaining portion of 30% (or BRL634 million) comes from an intercompany loan from AGI that CAG must repay. AGI issued USD500 million in April 2013 that has been fully guaranteed by CAG.  By the end of December 2013, CAG's total adjusted debt, on a pro forma basis, was BRL3.4 billion, including the off-balance-sheet. In December 2012, the company's total debt was BRL3 billion, of which BRL1.4 billion was off-balance. The slightly higher debt in 2013 basically reflected the increase of guarantees given by CAG to AGI's issuance made in April 2013 partially offset by the lower corporate debt.  FCF to Remain Positive  CAG has efficiently managed its activities and reported margins that are adequate for its business sector, despite cost pressures and increase of labor cost in the period. The company has also reported a consistent increase in revenues with a compound average growth rate (CAGR) of 23% since 2007. In December 2013, the company's net revenue totaled BRL8.4 billion, compared with BRL7.5 billion reported in 2012.  During 2013, EBITDA margins have returned to their historical levels, reaching 7%. Between 2009 and 2012, the company's average EBITDA margin of 12.5% benefited from contracts with Petrobras. Fitch expects the company to maintain margins between 6% and 8% going forward.  Fitch expects CAG's FCF to remain positive in the next few years, benefited by growing operational cash flow. The company improved its cash flow from operations (CFFO) to BRL721 million in 2013, compared with BRL40 million in 2012, aided by a funds from operations (FFO) of BRL555 million (compared to BRL56 million in 2012). The evolution was explained mainly by a positive working capital given the rise in accounts payable in 2013. FCF was BRL255 million, recovering from a negative BRL261 million in 2012.  Robust Backlog  By the end of 2013, CAG's backlog was relevant, totaling BRL32.4 billion. This is equivalent to four years of operations and represents an annual growth of 6.5%. Over the past five years, the company's backlog has shown an annual average growth rate of 13%. The company's expertise in project execution and the buoyant demand in the heavy construction sector are expected to continue to support the growth in CAG's operations in the foreseeable future. This growth reflects the bottlenecks in infrastructure, transportation, and projects related to the electric power sector in the regions the company operates, such as Brazil, Latin America and Africa.  CAG's project portfolio is exposed to Venezuela. In December 2013, the company's two largest projects, amounting to BRL8.2 billion (or 25% of CAG's backlog) came from that country. In 2013, CAG cancelled the BRL3.7 billion contract of the Cumana project in Venezuela. This project cancellation has been influenced by the current social and political instability and additional write-offs may occur in the short and medium term. The company is also likely to reduce execution speed of projects in Venezuela.  CAG's backlog is also concentrated in government clients, as well as in relevant projects. In December 2013, 82% of its customers were in the government sector and the 10 largest projects represented 62% of its total backlog, excluding Cumana project. A mild portion of the backlog is exposed to investment grade countries (31% of the total portfolio), with 37% of the total backlog being funded by multilateral financing agents. In the same period, 87% of the company's backlog was located in Latin America, being 48% in Brazil and 39% in rest of the region.  AGG's Mature Assets Ownership  AGG has economic interests in a diversified portfolio of companies with strong financial profile. Indeed CAG is the most important cash generator of the group, but AGG, through AG Telecom S.A., is part of the controlling shareholders of the telecom incumbent Oi S.A. (FC/LC IDR 'BBB-' and 'AA+(bra)', Watch Negative) with 2.2% indirect interest and the call center Contax S.A ('AA(bra)') with 7.8% stake. AGG also participates, through AG Participacoes S.A. (AGPar), in concessions, through its 17% ownership in the toll road company CCR ('AA+(bra)', Outlook Stable); in the power utility sector, with 14.4% in Cemig ('AA(bra)', Outlook Negative) and 8.3% in the water/wastewater utility Sanepar.  RATING SENSITIVITIES  Factors that could lead to consideration of a Negative Outlook or Downgrade include a FFO adjusted net leverage ratio above 3.0x on a consistent basis, a weakening of the company's sound cash position, and lower dividends flowing from affiliated units to CAG's parent company Andrade Gutierrez S.A. A substantial growth in guarantees provided to affiliates and a net adjusted debt-to-EBITDA ratio above 3x can also pressure the ratings.  Fitch does not anticipate any upgrades in CAG's ratings in the short term. In the medium term a better financial profile coupled with improvements in CAG's backlog diversification could benefit the ratings.  Additional information is available at ''.  Applicable Criteria and Related Research:  --'Corporate Rating Methodology' (Aug. 5, 2013);  --'National Scale Ratings Criteria' (Oct. 31, 2013).  Applicable Criteria and Related Research:  Corporate Rating Methodology: Including Short-Term Ratings and Parent and Subsidiary Linkage  National Scale Ratings Criteria  Additional Disclosure  Solicitation Status  ALL FITCH CREDIT RATINGS ARE SUBJECT TO CERTAIN LIMITATIONS AND DISCLAIMERS. PLEASE READ THESE LIMITATIONS AND DISCLAIMERS BY FOLLOWING THIS LINK: HTTP://FITCHRATINGS.COM/UNDERSTANDINGCREDITRATINGS. IN ADDITION, RATING DEFINITIONS AND THE TERMS OF USE OF SUCH RATINGS ARE AVAILABLE ON THE AGENCY'S PUBLIC WEBSITE 'WWW.FITCHRATINGS.COM'. PUBLISHED RATINGS, CRITERIA AND METHODOLOGIES ARE AVAILABLE FROM THIS SITE AT ALL TIMES. FITCH'S CODE OF CONDUCT, CONFIDENTIALITY, CONFLICTS OF INTEREST, AFFILIATE FIREWALL, COMPLIANCE AND OTHER RELEVANT POLICIES AND PROCEDURES ARE ALSO AVAILABLE FROM THE 'CODE OF CONDUCT' SECTION OF THIS SITE. FITCH MAY HAVE PROVIDED ANOTHER PERMISSIBLE SERVICE TO THE RATED ENTITY OR ITS RELATED THIRD PARTIES. DETAILS OF THIS SERVICE FOR RATINGS FOR WHICH THE LEAD ANALYST IS BASED IN AN EU-REGISTERED ENTITY CAN BE FOUND ON THE ENTITY SUMMARY PAGE FOR THIS ISSUER ON THE FITCH WEBSITE.  Contact:  Fitch Ratings Primary Analyst: Alexandre Garcia, +55-11-4504-2616 Associate Director Fitch Ratings Brasil Ltda Alameda Santos, 700 - 7th andar - Sao Paulo - SP - CEP: 01418-100 or Secondary Analyst: Gustavo Mueller, +55-21-4503-2632 Associate Director or Committee Chairperson: Mauro Storino, +55-21-4503-2625 Senior Director or Media Relations: Peter Fitzpatrick, London, +44 20 3530 1103  
Press spacebar to pause and continue. Press esc to stop.