Market Commentary: 57 Varieties

An ambitious young Canadian immigrated to the United States at the age of 29 and began a business in Chicago by selling cheese from the back of a wagon. Six years later, James L. Kraft was joined by three brothers and they soon moved their headquarters to New York. By 1915 they had patented a processed cheese product that did not require refrigeration and sold six million pounds of it to the U.S. Army for military rations. They rebranded as Kraft Cheese Company and captured 40% of the U.S. cheese market before they sold themselves to National Dairy in 1930. Four decades later, the Kraft name was resurrected and the firm began a long series of dizzying mergers and sales until it was acquired by Philip Morris then spun off again. In 2008, Kraft replaced AIG in the Dow Jones Industrial Average and pursued ventures with Group Danone and Cadbury. In 2012, Kraft divided its business into two companies, one focused on grocery product sales in North America, the other on snack product sales worldwide.

Henry J. Heinz, the driven young son of German immigrants was 25 years old when he formed a horseradish packaging company in Sharpsburg, Pennsylvania. In 1876 he started another firm with his cousin and brother. Within 20 years he bought them both out and expanded his business line from tomato ketchup and sweet pickles to include more than the “57 Varieties” in his catchy slogan. By 1908, the Pittsburgh-based firm had become the world’s largest tomato manufacturer and, over time, developed marketing innovations ranging from octagon shaped glass bottles to single-container pouches of mustard and relish to commercials set to the hit song “Anticipation.” The company was managed by members of the Heinz family until 1969. Henry was the great-grandfather of U.S. Senator H. John Heinz III and a second cousin twice removed of President Donald J. Trump.

In 2015, Kraft’s parent company merged with H.J. Heinz Holding Corporation in a $23 billion transaction arranged by Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital, two firms that hold a 47% ownership stake. Kraft Foods in Northfield, Illinois became a division and brand within Kraft Heinz Company (NASDAQ: KHC), now the fifth largest food company in the world with 80 factories and $24 billion of annual revenue. The Heinz brand and division in Pittsburgh includes many of the world’s most popular condiment including relish, sauces, gravy, vinegar and baked beans. Kraft’s most popular products include Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Planters Nuts, Jell-O Desserts, Kool Aid, Maxwell House, Oscar Meyer, Nabisco cookies, Cadbury and Toblerone chocolates and, of course, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese which sells one million boxes a day.

The debt-financed merger of the two American success stories has made it rather tough going for shareholders. Market share, revenue and net income have declined along with consumer preferences for fewer packaged foods and the company is reliant on Wal-Mart Stores for more than 20% of its sales. Kraft Heinz has slashed expenses, cut dividends, sold assets, and taken writedowns in an effort to remain competitive. The brand names nevertheless retain huge popularity: during the pandemic lockdowns, pantries around the world have been stocked with Kraft and Heinz staples that are trusted and viewed by consumers as having value. The company is in a defensive sector, one that is likely to remain strong under stay-at-home, eat-at-home scenarios throughout the recession. It has scale and a solid supply chain. In addition, as of March 31, the company had $5.4 billion of cash and a $300 million credit facility still untapped.

Kraft Heinz came to the high yield corporate bond market earlier this month with a $1.5 billion deal funding a tender offer but found enough investor demand to upsize the bond issue to $3.5 billion. This was its first debt raise in the high yield market as the company was downgraded to BB+ by S&P and Fitch who cited a two-year decline in profits, high dividend payouts, and failure to bring its $32 billion debt level down after splurging on acquisitions. Among its outstanding debt, the 4.375% bonds due 6/1/2046 are priced at $92.97 to yield 4.854% at this writing. We compare the yield to that offered by 20-year Treasuries at 1.19%, 30-year Treasuries at 1.43%, 30-year Fannie Maes at 1.55%, and 30-year Baa rated taxable municipal bonds at 3.95%. On the tax-exempt side, Baa3 rated State of Illinois general obligation bonds due in 2045 currently yield 5.17%. For current offerings from our municipal and corporate bond trading desks, please contact your HJ Sims Advisor.

We divert from our usual weekly commentary focused on municipal bonds this week to pay tribute to one of our longtime corporate bond traders, Peter Polakoff, who passed away this week. Peter was a senior vice president in our Boca Raton office for 19 years until he retired after 45-year career in corporate and municipal bond trading. He relished the stories behind each bond and could always find hidden gems among the varieties in our $8 trillion corporate debt market. We at HJ Sims extend our sympathies to his family.

HJ Sims Closes Financings for Lenbrook, MRC Manalapan; Partners with Voralto for Acquisition

CONTACT: Tara Perkins, AVP Marketing Communications | 203-418-9049 |

HJ Sims Closes Financings for Lenbrook, MRC Manalapan; Partners with Voralto for Acquisition

FAIRFIELD, CT– HJ Sims (Sims), a privately held investment bank and wealth management firm founded in 1935, is pleased to announce the successful closing of three transactions.

Lenbrook, a life plan community in Atlanta, GA, pursued financing for its recent Kingsboro at Lenbrook expansion. After a successful 2016 refinancing and a 2018 pre-development financing, Lenbrook again retained Sims to manage the financing process for the $107 million project. A priority  of Lenbrook’s was to maximize the ability to deleverage the debt of the financing without penalty. The entrance fee debt was maximized and the long-term debt amortized while permitting early repayment from turnover entrance fees.

 Sims coordinated a request for proposals to gauge interest in both the entrance fee and long-term debt. Due to the COVID-19 impact on bond markets and conduit bond issuers, Sims coordinated with the board and management of Lenbrook to pivot the transaction from tax-exempt financing consisting of bank short-term debt and long-term fixed rate bonds to taxable all-bank financing while closing early and achieving Lenbrook’s goal of maximizing deleveraging while maintaining flexibility. Fitch assigned a BBB- rating with stable outlook.

In Monmouth County, New Jersey, MRC Manalapan (MRC) is developing an assisted living and memory care community. MRC principals (and LV Development) collaborated with Springpoint Senior Living (Springpoint) to arrange the project and contracted with Springpoint to operate the community (Springpoint at Manalapan) under a long-term lease. Sims was engaged to implement debt financing supplemented by equity provided by the MRC principals.

Following a Sims-led solicitation, Peoples United Bank was selected to provide $14.3 million of taxable senior debt financing, incorporating a construction/mini-perm structure with a five-year balloon maturity. The loan includes tiered-interest rate pricing with reductions in loan credit spread following progression from construction, opening and stabilization. Primary security includes a revenue pledge and property mortgage. Supplemental security includes dual guarantees provided by the MRC principals and succeeded at completion by a limited tenant guaranty. Sims, Peoples and the financing team worked diligently with the MRC principals to secure final approvals, successfully closing in mid-May 2020.   

Established in 1977 and headquartered in Houston and Dallas, TX, Voralto is a 42-year-old senior housing owner/operator with a combined 120+ years of experience in the senior housing industry. Committed to growing the company through strategic acquisitions and new developments, Voralto currently owns/operates 8 assets totaling 590 beds in TX and GA. Sims was approached by Voralto to provide equity for the acquisition of an assisted living and memory care community in northern TX. Voralto’s business plan included the implementation of operational changes.

Sims formed a joint venture with Voralto to acquire the community. Sims’ equity provided liquidity to overcome any short-term performance issues resulting from COVID-19 and time to implement the business plan.

Scheduled to close in March, Sims and Voralto overcame challenges from COVID-19. Drawing from expertise of its bankers and investors, Sims underwrote Voralto’s business plan and provided a customized solution.

Financed Right®:

Non-profit: Aaron Rulnick: | For-profit: Jeff Sands:

HJ SIMS: Founded in 1935, HJ Sims is a privately held investment bank and wealth management firm, headquartered in Fairfield, CT, with nationwide locations. Investments involve risk, including loss of principal. This is not an offer to sell or buy any investment. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Member FINRA, SIPC. HJ Sims is not affiliated with Lenbrook, MRC Manalapan, Voralto Funding I. Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram Twitter.


Lenbrook is an existing life plan community which consists of 350 independent living residences located in two adjoining towers, the Brookhaven Tower and the Lenox Tower, and is located in Atlanta, Georgia.

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