Dollars and Scents

News reached us over the weekend of a new trend in baseball. Apparently several Chicago Cubs relievers are applying copious amounts of perfume as a good luck charm. Turns out players from last year’s Kansas City Royals did the same thing. And they won the World Series. The Cubs manager tweeted, “Aroma still matters.”

A different kind of fragrance is wafting through the leveraged loan market these days. A combination of factors is leading to a more aggressive stance by large cap arrangers. As noted by the WSJ this week, the broadly syndicated market is stretching the definition of cash flow to justify high purchase prices. And therefore more leverage.

The article zeroed in on the use of “liberal earnings adjustments” to bring leverage below six times ebitda. That’s the Leveraged Lending Guidance ceiling for banks, above which draws scrutiny, and a potential criticized classification, from regulators.

This column regularly highlights the nuances of ebitda adjustments related to leveraged buyouts – which ones meet the sniff test, and which ones carry a less agreeable odor. For example, adding back costs related to specifically identified  headcount reductions has long been a recognized feature of adjustment tradition.