Twenty large U.S. companies filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the first half of 2022 — less than half the number in the first half of 2021 — but an uptick of smaller commercial bankruptcy filings in August could be a prelude to a wave of reorganizations in the fall.
Higher interest rates, inflation, a global recession, and a likely growing inability to pass higher costs on to customers is eating away at companies’ margins and cash flows, according to CFO.com, a platform that caters to finance executives.
The first six months of 2022 saw the lowest midyear total of Chapter 11 filings since 2014 among companies with $100 million+ in assets, according to data released by Cornerstone Research. It was a quarter of the 89 filings made in the first half of 2020 at the onset of the covid-19 pandemic.
But bankruptcies by private companies for H1 2022 were up significantly, representing 60 percent of all filings compared to the yearly average of 40 percent from 2005 to 2021. “Mega” Chapter 11s ($1 billion+ in assets) were also scarce in the first half. Four were filed — less than the 2005-2021 half-year average of 11.
Cineworld Group PLC, the London-based owner of Regal Cinemas and the world’s No. 2 movie theater chain after rival AMC, recently filed for bankruptcy after failing to recover theater ticket sales sufficiently since the covid-19 lockdowns.
Cineworld bought Regal in 2018 for $3.6 billion. Traded on the London Stock Exchange, Cineworld is more than $5 billion in debt and faces a $1 billion legal judgment.
Movie theater ticket sales are lower than pre-pandemic levels. Other than a few superhero films including“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” scheduled for fall release, theaters are struggling to compete for content as some Hollywood studios limit production, delay release or go direct to streaming, Wall Street Journal reported.
“The Chapter 11 filing spotlights how Cineworld’s fate diverged during the pandemic from that of AMC, which became a darling of retail investors who drove its stock to dizzying heights,” Alexander Gladstone wrote for WSJ.
Cineworld benefited from $800 million in rescue financing to try to survive covid-19, premised on an eventual revenue bounceback that never materialized, according to its bankruptcy filing.
Deputy CEO Israel Greidinger said Cineworld would have welcomed the liquidity that comes with being a meme stock like AMC, but was “never so lucky.”
Studio executives predict U.S. box office ticket sales will generate around $7 billion in 2021, about two-thirds of recent pre-pandemic annual totals.
Two real estate-related companies dealing in finance and insurance — First Guaranty Mortgage and GWG Holdings — were among the top 10 largest Chapter 11 filings in H1 2022.
Pharmapacks, a reseller of health, personal care, and beauty products that has topped the Amazon sellers list for nearly 10 years, filed for bankruptcy in late August. The company’s annual sales exceeded $500 million, but its Achilles heel was its profitability, according to Marketplace Pulse.
Forecasting for the third quarter of 2022, Fitch Ratings said airlines, homebuilders, and building products companies were the ones most exposed due to risks such as lower demand, inflation of raw materials or commodity prices, and the inability to pass price increases on to consumers.