Alcoa’s balance sheet is a mess right now. The company held $10.6 billion in debt at the close of 2008, compared to just $762 million in cash. Alcoa should get about $1 billion once it exits its joint venture with Rio Tinto, but that’s probably still not enough to cover the dividend.
The earning’s picture is just as bad. As a measure of safety, Cramer looks for companies whose earnings are twice that of their dividends, which is why Alcoa makes him nervous. AA expects to lose 70 cents a share in 2009 – and that’s after losing 70% of its earnings power in 2008. Put simply, the company is losing more money than it expects to pay in dividends.
An RBC research note also pointed to trouble, saying that Alcoa will have to borrow another $1.5 billion to fund its 2009 spending plans. Cramer doubts the company can afford to keep its dividend at these levels – 68 cents a share annually – if that’s the case. Maybe Alcoa could capital expenditures to make the payout, but that in and of itself would be reason to sell the stock. Alcoa is either unprofitable and taking on debt to pay a big dividend or the dividend will be cut out of necessity. Regardless, investors don’t want to be anywhere near this stock.
Another culprit to watch is BB&T . Good news from Citigroup , Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase offers reason to be more positive about the sector than before, but there’s something specific here that should concern people: BB&T is the only bank to borrow TARP funds that hasn’t yet cut its dividend. As good a regional bank at BB&T is, Cramer said, he’s not sure this company will buck that trend.
Cramer’s charitable trust owns JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo.
Questions for Cramer? firstname.lastname@example.org
Questions, comments, suggestions for the Mad Money website? email@example.com