The number of shale drillers that have interest expenses of over 10% of their revenue rose from 12 last year to 27, according to a Bloomberg Intelligence index of 62 companies. While drillers' revenues dropped, their total debt at the end of the first quarter also rose 16% from the previous year to $235 billion, according to the index. The companies also saw a higher expenses-to-income ratio in the first quarter amid a record high output, spending $4.15 per dollar of earnings, compared with $2.25 in the previous year.
The cost of buying out retirees' pensions rose to 108.8% of the plan's accounting cost in August, a modest increase from July's 108.7%, according to the Mercer US Pension Buyout Index. Keeping the same retirees on the plan's books would cost 108.1% of the accounting liability, Mercer said.
Fifty percent more food recalls were conducted in the fourth quarter compared with the third quarter, according to the ExpertRECALL Index. Undeclared allergens accounted for most of the product withdrawals, followed by contamination with listeria and other food-borne pathogens.
Contractors are feeling the effects of owner financing problems, according to FMI's Nonresidential Construction Index for the third quarter. The management consulting firm's index indicated that 65% of construction industry executives who participated in a survey are experiencing project delays and cancellations. FMI also predicted that the weak economy will create more competition in the market, which could contribute to lower profit margins.
Construction costs are increasing faster than the Consumer Price Index, according to Turner Construction Co.'s Building Cost Index. Commercial building costs increased 1.77% in the third quarter from the second quarter, according to the cost index. Commercial building costs rose 6.5% from the third quarter of last year.