Bed Bath & Beyond is confident it can offload its names and stores after it declared bankruptcy, but shareholders are expected to be wiped out as its stock plummets.
The storied retailer, which declared bankruptcy Sunday after a series of failed Hail Mary efforts to keep operations running, detailed its descent to insolvency in a series of court filings. But the company noted it is still marketing the business to avoid outright liquidation.
“While the commencement of a full chain wind-down is necessitated by economic realities, Bed Bath & Beyond has and will continue to market their businesses as a going-concern, including the buybuy Baby business,” the company’s chief financial officer and chief restructuring officer Holly Etlin wrote in a Sunday declaration to New Jersey’s bankruptcy court.
“Bed Bath & Beyond has pulled off long shot transactions several times in the last six months, so nobody should think Bed Bath & Beyond will not be able to do so again. To the contrary, Bed Bath & Beyond and its professionals will make every effort to salvage all or a portion of operations for the benefit of all stakeholders,” she added.
Shares of the company tumbled about 35% on Monday, giving it a market value of around $90 million. The stock has fallen about 90% this year. Last April, it was trading around $20 a share but hovered around 20 cents on Monday.
Whatever money Bed Bath is able to generate in its liquidation and sale efforts will go to its secured creditors and bondholders, said Eric Snyder, chairman of the bankruptcy department at the law firm Wilk Auslander. He said its shareholders, including its many retail investors who took advantage of its short-lived meme stock craze, will be “wiped out.”
“There’s always some speculation that someone will come in and save the company and there’ll be something for equity but that was never really in the cards here,” said Snyder. “At the end of the day it’s just another story of another retailer whose bond holders and secured creditors are just going to take it on the chin.”
The company is hoping a buyer will be willing to purchase either Bed Bath & Beyond or Buy Buy Baby as standalone businesses, buy the brands’ intellectual property and perhaps take on a few of their better performing stores.
Bidders could purchase either of the brands and keep them open in a variety of ways, or just bid on their assets and inventory.
Buyers who would be willing to purchase the businesses could end up paying more for the company’s intangible value, its so-called goodwill, than what they would have spent on just its assets, said Snyder.
The likelihood of finding a buyer will come down to how much Bed Bath and Buy Buy Baby’s names are worth.
The valuation of the company and its intellectual property is unclear. In its most recent quarterly securities filing, the retailer noted the intangible value of trade names and trademarks was just $13.4 million.
As of late November, Bed Bath & Beyond had about $4.4 billion in assets and $5.2 billion in debts, court filings show.
The company is open to taking bids for all of its assets and will accept the strongest package it receives, even if it means the retailer will cease to exist altogether, it said in filings.
“The Debtors are seeking to sell all of their assets, or any portion thereof, either as a going concern or as a liquidation,” court records say.
“These assets include, but are not limited to, the Debtors’ going-concern business, unexpired leases, executory contracts, equipment, inventory, supplies, intellectual property, insurance proceeds, prepaid expenses and deposits, and books and records, in each case, free and clear of all liens, claims, interests, or other encumbrances,” according to the records.
Bed Bath is already in the process of starting liquidation sales at its stores but said it will “pivot away” from store closings if it secures a successful sale. The company expects store sales to be completed and properties vacated by June 30, with expected proceeds of about $718 million.
Still, the company has begun the liquidation process and is not running the stores as usual, which indicates Bed Bath has little faith it will find a buyer willing to keep it alive in some fashion, said Snyder.
“I actually think they were able to pull a genie out of a hat once or twice by staving off bankruptcy but at the end of the day, it’s a broken model and they had lost a lot of faith from not only investors but suppliers, which are arguably more important,” said Snyder, who has been a bankruptcy lawyer for 30 years.
“Secured creditors, they get creditor fatigue and they’re not going to let them sit around and fund losses while they find a buyer because they tried to do that outside the bankruptcy,” he said.
The company is asking the courts to approve a bid deadline of May 28 and an auction date for June 2.