A year of raising furiously 疯狂融资的一年
Corporate balance-sheets 公司资产负债表
Companies have issued more debt and equity in 2020 than ever before. What now?
IN MARCH THE corporate world found itself staring into the abyss, recalls Susie Scher. From her perch overseeing global capital markets at Goldman Sachs, a bank, she witnessed firms scrambling for money to keep going as the wheels of commerce ground to a halt amid the pandemic. Many investors panicked. Surely, the thinking went, public markets would freeze in the frigid fog of covid-19 uncertainty—and then stay frozen.
Instead, within weeks they began to thaw, then simmer, kindled by trillions of dollars in monetary and fiscal stimulus from governments desperate to avert an economic nuclear winter. In the past few months they have turned boiling hot.
According to Refinitiv, a data provider, this year the world’s non-financial firms have raised an eye-popping $3.6trn in capital from public investors (see chart 1). Issuance of both investment-grade and riskier junk bonds set records, of $2.4trn and $426bn, respectively. So did the $538bn in secondary stock sales by listed stalwarts, which leapt by 70% from last year, reversing a recent trend to buy back shares rather than issue new ones.
Initial public offerings (IPOs), too, are flirting with all-time highs, as startups hope to cash in on rich valuations lest stockmarkets lose their frothiness, and venture capitalists (VCs) patience with loss-making business models. VCs still plough three times as much into American startup stars as public investors do. But proceeds from listings are now growing faster than private funding rounds (see chart 2). And the boom is global in nature (see chart 3). On December 2nd JD Health, a Chinese online pharmacy, raked in $3.5bn in Hong Kong. A week later DoorDash, an American food-delivery darling, and Airbnb, a home-rental platform, both more or less matched it in New York.
In a world of near-zero interest rates, it appears, investors will bankroll just about anyone with a shot at outliving covid-19. Some of that money will go up in smoke, with or without the corona-crisis. What does not get torched will bolster corporate haves, sharpening the contrast between them and the have-nots.
The original spark that lit capital markets on fire was the $6.25bn in debt and equity that Carnival Cruise Lines secured in April, remembers Carlos Hernandez of JPMorgan Chase, a bank. Investors reasoned that cruises will one day set sail again—by which time some of Carnival’s flimsier rivals will have sunk. Other dominant firms have benefited from this logic. Boeing, part of a planemaking duopoly, sold $25bn in bonds this spring, even as its bestselling 737 MAX jetliner remained on the ground and the near-term future of travel up in the air. Many Chinese companies have taken to issuing perpetual bonds, which are never redeemed but pay interest for ever, to repair their balance-sheets.
摩根大通的卡洛斯·埃尔南德斯（Carlos Hernandez）回忆说，最初点燃资本市场火花的是嘉年华邮轮公司（Carnival Cruise Lines）在4月通过发行新债券和股票融资62.5亿美元。投资者的想法是，邮轮总有一天会再次起航，而到那时，嘉年华的一些弱小对手应该已被疫情击沉。其他行业霸主也受益于这一逻辑。飞机制造业双寡头之一的波音公司今年春天还是售出了250亿美元的债券，尽管它畅销的737 MAX喷气客机仍然停飞，航空旅行的短期前景也悬而未决。许多中国公司已开始通过发行永续债券（即永不赎回，一直支付利息）来修复资产负债表。
By the summer, notes Ms Scher, “rescue capital-raising” had given way to something less defensive. Investors’ ultraloose purse-strings allowed opportunistic firms to lock in historically low coupons. S&P Global, a rating agency, calculates that the average investment-grade bond issued this year paid interest of 2.6% amid the covid recession, down from 2.8% in 2019. Thanks to a boom in online shopping and cloud computing, Amazon, which is a leader in both areas, can now borrow at 1.5% for ten years, more cheaply than any American firm since at least 1980—and than some governments. Indebted giants like AT&T, a telecoms-and-entertainment group, are lengthening debt maturities. In November Saudi Aramco, an oil colossus, sold $2.3bn-worth of 50-year bonds, in spite of looming climate policies that may cripple its business of selling crude long before 2070.
Even cheap debt, of course, must be rolled over and, perpetuities aside, eventually paid back. With stockmarket valuations propped up by loose monetary policy, and only a slim prospect of tightening, many firms opted to shore up their balance-sheets with new share issues. Danaher, a high-rolling industrial conglomerate, raised over $1.5bn by selling new stock just after its share price returned to its pre-pandemic highs in May; it has risen by 39% since. On December 8th Tesla, an electric-car maker whose market value has grown seven-fold this year, to $573bn, said it plans to issue $5bn-worth of shares.
With shareholder payouts trimmed or suspended until the covid fog lifts, the cash held by the world’s 3,000 most valuable listed non-financial firms has exploded to $7.6trn, from $5.7trn last year (see chart 4). Even if you exclude America’s abnormally cash-rich technology giants—Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Alphabet and Facebook—corporate balance-sheets are brimming with liquidity.
It is still too early to tell what firms will do with all that cash. The merger market is showing signs of life, though mostly as deals put on ice during the pandemic are being revived. Many companies will content themselves with maintaining liquidity, at least until a covid-19 vaccine becomes more widely available.
Startups, for their part, will use IPO proceeds to blitzscale their way to profitability. The pandemic has made business models that might not have matured for years, such as digital health, suddenly viable. Many will fail. But for now giddy investors are pouring money into any firm whose IPO prospectus features the words “digital”, “cloud” or “health”. Headier still, “special purpose acquisition companies”, which go public with nothing but a promise to merge with a sexy startup later on, and which have raised $70bn in 2020, mostly on Wall Street, are shattering previous records.
Markets seem no more discerning in mainland China, where proceeds from listings hit $63bn, the most since 2010. Hong Kong added another $46bn. Shanghai’s STAR Market, a year-old technology board, welcomed its 200th member earlier this month, bringing its IPO haul to $44bn. In September demand for shares to be traded on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange by Nongfu Spring, a water-bottler, outstripped supply by 1,148 times. Even the authorities’ last-minute suspension of Ant Group’s record-breaking $40bn IPO in Hong Kong and Shanghai, after the fintech titan’s co-founder annoyed regulators, may not frighten other listers. And so long as geopolitical tensions between America and China persist, more Chinese firms with an American stock ticker may avail themselves of a Hong Kong one, observes Julien Begasse de Dhaem of Morgan Stanley, a bank.
中国大陆的市场也似乎同样来者不拒，上市融资额达到630亿美元，为2010年以来最高。香港市场也融资了460亿美元。上海证交所创立一年的科创板本月稍早时迎来了第200名成员，使其IPO总额达到440亿美元。瓶装水公司农夫山泉9月在香港证交所上市，获得了1148倍的超额认购。在蚂蚁集团的联合创始人惹恼监管机构之后，当局在最后一刻叫停了这家金融科技巨头在香港和上海创纪录的400亿美元IPO，但即便如此也未必会吓跑其他计划上市的公司。摩根士丹利的朱力安（Julien Begasse de Dhaem）认为，只要中美之间的地缘政治紧张持续，就可能有更多已在美国上市的中国公司选择在香港二次上市。
For now, capital is likely to keep flowing. Mr Hernandez says his bank’s pipeline of IPOs looks “the most robust in years”. The ten-year Treasury yield is below 1% and the spreads between American government and corporate bonds have narrowed to pre-pandemic levels. As a result, even riskier firms’ paper yields less than 5%, according to JPMorgan Chase. Investors expecting meaningful returns are therefore eyeing stocks. For the pandemic’s corporate winners, the choice between cheap debt and cheap equity is a win-win.
三、翻译园地-amount to, add up to, come to, bring to, reach, run into/to, run up to区别
(1) ①amount to意为“合计达到(某数量)；到……之多”。
The British National Debt amounts to many thousands of millions of pounds. 英国国债达数十亿英镑。
The business done this year amounts to $200,000 as against $150,000 last year. 今年的营业额达到200000 美元，而去年为 150000美元。
This conversation amounts to a difference of opinion between us.
In his works, he displayed an originality amounting almost to genius.
His words amount to a refusal/a threat. 他的话等于是拒绝/威胁。
The land and economic reforms amount to revolution.
③有时意为“取得……成就”，可与anything, little, much等连用。
Jim moves from job to job so often that I don't see how he can ever amount to much. 吉姆这么频繁地换了一个又一个工作，我不认为他怎么可能有大作为。
(2) add up to表示“总共有……；(加起来看)说明……；实际上是；意味着”，在此意义上可与amount to换用。
The separate numbers add up to 568. 各个数字加起来共计568。
Their actions added up to a deliberate flouting of the rules.
His long answer just adds up to a refusal. 他冗长的回答实际上是拒绝。
(3) come to可作“合计(达到)……；有……之多；实际上是……”解。
The bill comes to $25. 账单达25美元。
What his explanation comes to is that we can expect no further help from him. 他的解释实际上是说我们不能指望他再提供什么帮助。
(4) bring to意为“使达到(某数量)；使达到(某种情况或状态)”。
This last thing will bring the bill to over $50,000.
First bring the milk to the boil, and then add the powder.
The cost of the construction of the bridge reached $250,000.
The profit reached over a thousand dollars.
(6) run to/into有“达到(某个数量、长度等)；出(多少) 版”之意。
The national debt runs into/to twelve figures. 国债高达12位数。
Months ran into years and still the book was not finished.
His new novel has already run to three impressions.
(7) run up to可表示“高达”。
Prices ran up to $2,000 per ton. 每吨价格高达2000美元。
The bill for the repairs might run up to $1,000.
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