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10 Once-Bankrupt Companies Primed for a Comeback (Update 1)

10. Aleris International

Rust-belt aluminum giant Aleris International filed for bankruptcy in February 2009 after it was unable to re-finance a crippling debt load of over $2.5 billion, the side effects of a $3.3 billion private equity buyout by Texas Pacific Group.

Suffering from falling aluminum prices, weakness in its auto and housing end markets and a credit freeze, the company entered bankruptcy, only to exit just over a year later after its ownership was assumed by private equity creditors Oaktree Capital Management, Apollo Management and Sankaty Advisors, who provided bankruptcy financing, called debtor-in-possession financing. The new owners agreed to provide $690 million in investment to Aleris, while wiping most of the company's pre-bankruptcy debt load.

Now those investors are set to sell shares of Aleris on public stock markets under the ticker ARS, after filing for a $100 million initial public offering in April 2011. However, the company has yet to price an offering, making it a rare company emerging from bankruptcy with a pending listing.

Aleris earned revenue of $4.8 billion and adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $332 million in 2011, a boost in earnings from 2010, when the company earned $4.1 billion in revenue and $264 million in EBITDA.

In October 2011, ratings agency Standard & Poor's maintained a "stable" outlook on its B+ rating after the company announced that it would pay a special $100 million dividend to investors using cash on the company's balance sheet. The firm notes strength in Aleris' European business and the potential for a recovery in its end markets.

S&P also points out that significant risks remain for Aleris, even after the company purged debt from its balance sheet, which now stands at roughly 2.5x EDBITDA. The company still operates in a "very competitive" and "highly cyclical" market, while it still maintains an aggressive financial risk profile.

"Still, in our view, the company benefits from improving industry fundamentals and, after giving effect to the proposed financial transaction, manageable debt levels and adequate liquidity to meet its near-term obligations," notes S&P. As of Dec. 31, 2011, the company had $500 million in newly issues notes and an additional $100 million in other debt, balanced by liquidity of a $390 million revolving credit facility and $231 million of cash.

Watch for the company's private equity owners to revisit an IPO filing after paying a $100 million special dividend, if commodity prices and industry fundamentals improve.

Dow Jones Industrial Average aluminum proxy Alcoa (AA) has seen its shares rise over 10% year-to-date after a 2011 swoon that nearly halved its shares and put them near post-crisis lows.

For more on Alcoa and cyclical investments, see 10 stocks JPMorgan says may rise up to 58% and 10 stocks in the red hot materials sector
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