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Morgan Stanley Lowers El Paso Rating

Morgan Stanley downgraded its rating on shares of El Paso (EP) to underweight from equal-weight. On Nov. 26, Moody's downgraded its rating on El Paso's senior unsecured debt to Ba2 from Baa3.

Analyst Scott Soler says the downgrade is based on better information on the company's liquidity situation and pledged assets. Soler says El Paso's liquidity looks much tighter by mid-2004, $4-$5 billion of assets have or could be pledged by his estimation. He notes a cash collateral call arising from the Moody's debt rating downgrade will likely prompt the company to post $2.2 billion in cash collateral over next 30 days.He lowered his $1.60 2002 EPS estimate to $1.58 and his $1.25 forecast for 2003 to $1.10.

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