“Bankruptcy” is a dirty word in boardrooms, on trading floors and in employee break rooms. There’s good reason: Insolvency tarnishes reputations, wipes out stockholders and kills jobs. Thankfully, corporate failures are rarely surprising to those who know what to look for. Close observers fully expected the recent bankruptcies of coworking giant WeWork Inc. and pharmacy chain Rite Aid Corp. Almost 200 companies with debts of at least $50 million declared bankruptcy this year—the most since the global financial crisis, except for 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic. The wave shows no signs of ebbing as high interest rates weigh down corporate balance sheets. So how do you know if a company is about to go under? Read on.
Stock, bond and loan prices are the quickest way to spot a troubled company. When brokers offer floating-rate loans for less than 80¢ on the dollar, there’s little doubt the borrower is struggling. That price means lenders don’t expect the debt to be repaid in full. Almost a year before Rite Aid