Residential sales plummeted alongside home buyer confidence. Home sales by value dropped 16.31% from last year in November, a fifth month of declines. New home prices fell 0.3% from the past month, the largest decline since February 2015, according to Reuters.
Fitch said in its report that in a harsh scenario where residential home sales drop by 30%, 12 or approximately a third of its 40 rated developers could go into negative cash flow. In Fitch’s base case — a less harsh scenario — a 15% fall in home sales could consequence in about 13% of its rated developers experiencing a cash deficit.
Chinese developers confront $19.8 billion in maturing offshore, U.S.-dollar denominated bonds in the first quarter and $18.5 billion in the second, Nomura analysts estimated in a recent observe. That first-quarter amount is nearly double the $10.2 billion in maturities of the fourth quarter, the analysts said.
In the next year, real estate developers are set to confront already an higher amount of bond maturities.
Developers rated “B” or lower, in particular, will confront rising pressure to repay offshore debt, with maturing or putable offshore bonds in 2022 having higher principal amounts due than in 2021, Fitch said. Putable bonds allows their holders to force the issuer to redeem the bond before maturity.
A “B” rating method there is material default risk, but a limited margin of safety remains.
Hidden debt worsens liquidity strain
As the debt crisis unfolded, doubt also arose over the without of transparency on the true extent of developer limitations.
“Some distressed credits over the past few months have also cast doubt over the transparency of companies’ disclosures and contingent limitations,” Fitch said.
One example was Fantasia, which had a private bond not disclosed in the firm’s financial reports that Fitch highlighted in October.
“The emergence of ‘hidden private debt’ compounds liquidity strains, particularly for lower-rated developers with large upcoming bond maturities,” Fitch said in the report last week.
Such hidden debt would include undisclosed debt and guarantees for borrowings of joint ventures, associates and other third parties that allow developers to skirt China’s “three red lines” debt limits, according to Fitch.
That policy places a limit on debt in relation to a firm’s cash flows, assets and capital levels, and is meant to rein in developers after years of growth fueled by excessive debt.
Troubles of developers may bottom soon
Looking ahead, analysts don’t expect the market conditions troubling developers to ease until sometime next year.
Guangzhou Evergrande Football Stadium under construction in Guangzhou, China’s Guangdong province on Sep. 17, 2021
STR | AFP | Getty Images
Monica Hsiao, founder and chief investment officer at Triada Capital, said she expects to see a “bottoming” for China high-provide bonds, essentially real estate bonds, in the first half of next year.
“Because the market is really waiting to see if the government’s pain threshold for more material policy easing hits, and a lot of the market believes that it’s going to be within the first quarter,” she told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” on Friday.
Early this month, investor sentiment in the character sector was buoyed as China’s monetary policy move toward easing. The central bank cut the save requirement ratio, or the amount of cash that edges must keep up as reserves, for the second time this year – freeing up 1.2 trillion yuan ($282 billion) to raise the economy.
Fitch additional that the operating ecosystem for Chinese developers will keep challenging and that a “meaningful recovery in funding and market-access conditions” won’t come until the second half of 2022.
— CNBC’s Evelyn Cheng contributed to this report.
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