Cliffs Natural Resources (CLF) Stock Downgraded Today at Deutsche Bank

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Cliffs Natural Resources (CLF) was downgraded today at Deutsche Bank to "hold" from "buy" with its price target lowered to $10 from $17.

The international mining and natural resources company is expected to post "reduced volumes (-15%) and lower EBITDA (-5%)," analysts said.

"Cliffs determined that the potential to reach an agreement with prospective equity partners will not be possible by YE14 for its BL operations. Estimated closure costs to be $650-700m (including take-or-pay contracts) over five years, but is considered to be 'worst case scenario,'" analysts said.

"Closure costs could be lowered and potential offsets could emerge (lower SG&A, reduced capex). Cliffs [will] rely primarily on U.S. iron ore segment, while it continues to entertain potential sale of Asia Pacific iron ore and NA Coal segments," analysts added.

Shares of Cliff Natural Resources are down 2.08% to $8 in pre-market trading.

Separately, TheStreet Ratings team rates CLIFFS NATURAL RESOURCES INC as a Sell with a ratings score of D-. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate CLIFFS NATURAL RESOURCES INC (CLF) a SELL. This is driven by multiple weaknesses, which we believe should have a greater impact than any strengths, and could make it more difficult for investors to achieve positive results compared to most of the stocks we cover. The company's weaknesses can be seen in multiple areas, such as its deteriorating net income, generally high debt management risk, disappointing return on equity, weak operating cash flow and generally disappointing historical performance in the stock itself."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • The company, on the basis of change in net income from the same quarter one year ago, has significantly underperformed when compared to that of the S&P 500 and the Metals & Mining industry. The net income has significantly decreased by 5116.7% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, falling from $117.20 million to -$5,879.60 million.
  • The debt-to-equity ratio is very high at 105.77 and currently higher than the industry average, implying increased risk associated with the management of debt levels within the company. Along with this, the company manages to maintain a quick ratio of 0.39, which clearly demonstrates the inability to cover short-term cash needs.
  • Return on equity has greatly decreased when compared to its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a signal of major weakness within the corporation. Compared to other companies in the Metals & Mining industry and the overall market, CLIFFS NATURAL RESOURCES INC's return on equity significantly trails that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • Net operating cash flow has decreased to $227.90 million or 23.26% when compared to the same quarter last year. Despite a decrease in cash flow CLIFFS NATURAL RESOURCES INC is still fairing well by exceeding its industry average cash flow growth rate of -55.48%.
  • Despite any intermediate fluctuations, we have only bad news to report on this stock's performance over the last year: it has tumbled by 62.14%, worse than the S&P 500's performance. Consistent with the plunge in the stock price, the company's earnings per share are down 6021.53% compared to the year-earlier quarter. Naturally, the overall market trend is bound to be a significant factor. However, in one sense, the stock's sharp decline last year is a positive for future investors, making it cheaper (in proportion to its earnings over the past year) than most other stocks in its industry. But due to other concerns, we feel the stock is still not a good buy right now.

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