NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- We all knew times were tough for retail stalwarts Macy's ( M - Get Report) and Rite Aid ( RAD - Get Report). But are those companies, in fact, in danger of collapse? According to a recent study, they are. Audit Integrity, an independent financial research and risk modeling firm, identified those two as being among 20 publicly traded companies with the highest probability of filing for bankruptcy in the coming 12 months. Of note: While traditional models for analyzing bankruptcy risk usually look solely at fundamentals, the Audit Integrity study used a quantitative model to track liquidity, debt levels, profitability and stock volatility, as well as the potential for corporate fraud, at more than 2,500 publicly traded companies.
Using these metrics, Rite Aid garnered the highest probability of bankruptcy, at 10.5%. The drugstore has seen substantial losses over the last two years. In its first fiscal quarter, Rite Aid recorded a loss of $98.4 million, or 11 cents a share, and said it expected a greater deficit for the year. And things aren't looking much better for second-quarter results, which the drugstore plans to release on Thursday. In fact, Rite Aid was downgraded on Tuesday to market perform from outperform by an analyst at Raymond James, who said same-store sales fell during each month of the quarter.
Analysts on average expect the company to report a loss of 15 cents a share. Rite Aid's stock price has also been volatile, falling as low as 20 cents during the 52-week period, and it's being weighed down by substantial debt stemming from its acquisition of Brooks and Eckerd drugstores in 2007. A representative from Rite Aid could not be reached for comment. As for Macy's, it has a lower risk of filing for bankruptcy, according to the report, at 4.6%, but Audit's CEO Jack Zwingli said Macy's balance sheet is weak due to a $450 million goodwill write off last year. In its second quarter, Macy's posted a 90% plunge in profit to $7 million, or 2 cents a share, compared with $73 million, or 17 cents in the year-ago period. Macy's stock fell to $5.07 during the 52-week period and is currently trading around $19. But Jim Sluzewski, a Macy's spokesperson, told TheStreet that the company has "strong cash flow and a clearly defined strategy for growth." He also noted Macy's $2 billion bank credit agreement with no borrowings as of the end of the most recent quarter. And on Monday Citigroup upgraded the department store to buy from hold, citing increased conviction of top-line and margin potential.
Both Rite Aid and Macy's also have aggressive ratings from Audit because they are not representing their financial conditions in the most transparent way, Zwingli says. Zwingli notes that Audit "looked at patterns at companies that the SEC has taken enforcement action on" and identified other companies with those same patterns of behavior. Audit then back-tested the model by applying it retroactively to companies that recently filed bankruptcy. Other companies of note that appear on Audit's list include: AMR ( AMR - Get Report), Continental Airlines ( CAL - Get Report), Las Vegas Sands ( LVS - Get Report) and Sirius XM Radio ( SIRI - Get Report). The full list follows:
-- Reported by Jeanine Poggi in New York Follow TheStreet.com on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.