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TMCNet:  Fitch Affirms Computer Science's IDR at 'BBB'; Outlook Revised to Positive

[March 07, 2014]

Fitch Affirms Computer Science's IDR at 'BBB'; Outlook Revised to Positive

NEW YORK --(Business Wire)--

Fitch Ratings has affirmed Computer Sciences Corp.'s (NYSE: CSC (News - Alert)) Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at 'BBB' and revised the Rating Outlook to Positive from Stable. Furthermore, Fitch has withdrawn the short-term IDR and commercial paper rating of 'F3'. A full list of ratings follows at the end of this release.

KEY RATING DRIVERS

The revision in the Rating Outlook to Positive reflects CSC's:

--Strengthened free cash flow (FCF) and materially improved cash flow metrics. FCF has primarily benefitted from operating margin expansion as a result of the company's significant 2012-2014 cost reduction program and declining capital intensity, albeit at a cost to revenue growth in the Global Infrastructure Services segment.

Fitch estimates FCF-to-total adjusted debt increased to nearly 15% in the latest 12 months (LTM) ended Dec. 27, 2013, compared with 3.7% in fiscal 2013 (March 31), excluding a $500 million discretionary pension contribution in the current period and a one-time cash receipt of $126 million from the U.K.'s National Health Service in the year-ago period.

--Stabilizing total contract backlog, which is a key determinant of future revenues. CSC's total contract backlog stabilized at $30.7 billion for two consecutive quarters, with funded and unfunded backlog relatively flat as well, despite declining average contract durations in both commercial and public sectors. Fitch estimates 80.5% of total revenue in fiscal 2014 will be derived from backlog reported at the end of fiscal 2013.

--Improved new contract due diligence and services delivery execution reflected in greater overall profitability, including net favorable adjustments to percentage of completion models. CSC made considerable investments in people and processes to improve the company's ability to bid accurately on new contracts and then successfully execute against the contract bid model through better services delivery.

Rating strengths include:

--A significant percentage of CSC's total revenue is recurring from long-term services contracts.

--CSC's strong total liquidity, consisting of cash and available borrowing capacity under its committed revolving credit facility (RCF). CSC upsized its RCF to $2.5 billion, increasing total liquidity by 29% year-over-year to nearly $4.7 billion, net of letters of credit, as of Dec. 27, 2013. CSC's one-year liquidity coverage ratio has improved to the mid-4x range, reflecting stronger profitability, lower capital intensity and manageable debt maturities.

--CSC has a diverse revenue mix with respect to service offerings and end-markets served, with commercial and government representing 68% and 32%, respectively, of total fiscal 2013 revenue. Furthermore, CSC addresses a broad range of industries within the commercial sector.

Rating concerns include:

--Weak organic revenue growth. Fitch estimates CSC's organic revenue growth declined 1.3% in fiscal 2013 (March 31) and 7.6% and the first nine months of fiscal 2014 ended Dec. 27, 2013, excluding the effects of the federal government shutdown, acquisitions, divestitures (including Paxus, an Australian IT staffing company accounted for as continuing operations) and currency fluctuations.

EBITDA prssures from the revenue declines have been more than offset to date through CSC's substantial cost reduction program from fiscal 2012-2014. However, Fitch believes the most significant of the cost savings opportunities at CSC will largely be captured by the end of fiscal 2014 (March 31), potentially resulting in profitability pressures in the absence of improved revenue performance. CSC's revenue growth is likely contingent on the commercial sector, given continued spending pressures in the U.S. federal market, particularly Department of Defense (DoD).

--Unresolved SEC (News - Alert) investigations. Despite concluding an internal investigation, CSC remains subject to an ongoing investigation by the SEC's Division of Enforcement and its Division of Corporation Finance. CSC's discussions to date with the SEC Enforcement Staff have yet to yield a resolution to the investigation.

On Dec. 11, 2013, CSC received a Wells notice from the SEC Enforcement Staff, which could lead to the SEC filing a civil enforcement action or administrative proceeding against the company. On Jan. 14, 2014, CSC made a Wells submission to convince the SEC such an action is not warranted. Fitch believes an SEC settlement, if any, will be manageable in the context of the company's solid liquidity position.

--Spending pressures in the U.S. federal market, particularly DoD, due to the significant federal budget deficit. CSC's North American Public Sector (NPS) accounted for 32% of total revenue in the LTM ended Dec. 27, 2013. CSC's NPS derives the majority of its revenue from the DoD (61%), which faces greater budget spending cuts than do civil agencies.

RATING SENSITIVITIES

Positive:

--Increase in new business signings, particularly next generation IT, and solid renewals strengthens backlog, ultimately converting to improving revenue trends and profitable revenue growth.

Negative:

--Revenue declines accelerate, well in excess of the overall market, indicating a lack of competitiveness with new product offerings and/or greater than expected erosion of traditional infrastructure outsourcing demand.

--Significant debt-financed acquisitions and/or share repurchases that result in a material deterioration in credit protection measures.

As of Dec. 27, 2013, total liquidity was nearly $4.7 billion, consisting of an undrawn $2.5 billion (RCF) due January 2019 and approximately $2.3 billion of cash. About $1.1 billion of CSC's cash is held offshore, a portion of which is accessible in a tax-efficient manner through settlement of inter-company loans or return of capital distributions. CSC has substantial cushion under its financial covenants, which consist of minimum interest coverage and maximum leverage of 3x.

Total debt was approximately $2.8 billion as of Dec. 27, 2013, primarily consisting of:

--$422 million note payable (Libor + 17 bps) due Dec. 2014;

--$350 million of 2.50% term notes due September 2015;

--$938 million of 6.50% term notes due March 2018;

--$409 million of 4.45% term notes due September 2022.

Fitch has affirmed the following ratings:

--Long-term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at 'BBB';

--Senior unsecured debt at 'BBB';

--Unsecured RCF at 'BBB'.

Additional information is available at 'www.fitchratings.com'.

Applicable Criteria and Related Research:

--'Corporate Rating Methodology, Including Short-Term Ratings and Parent and Subsidiary Linkage' (Aug. 5, 2013).

Applicable Criteria and Related Research:

Corporate Rating Methodology: Including Short-Term Ratings and Parent and Subsidiary Linkage

http://www.fitchratings.com/creditdesk/reports/report_frame.cfm?rpt_id=715139

Additional Disclosure

Solicitation Status

http://www.fitchratings.com/gws/en/disclosure/solicitation?pr_id=822988

ALL FITCH CREDIT RATINGS ARE SUBJECT TO CERTAIN LIMITATIONS AND DISCLAIMERS. PLEASE READ THESE LIMITATIONS AND DISCLAIMERS BY FOLLOWING THIS LINK: HTTP://FITCHRATINGS.COM/UNDERSTANDINGCREDITRATINGS. IN ADDITION, RATING DEFINITIONS AND THE TERMS OF USE OF SUCH RATINGS ARE AVAILABLE ON (News - Alert) THE AGENCY'S PUBLIC WEBSITE 'WWW.FITCHRATINGS.COM'. PUBLISHED RATINGS, CRITERIA AND METHODOLOGIES ARE AVAILABLE FROM THIS SITE AT ALL TIMES. FITCH'S CODE OF CONDUCT, CONFIDENTIALITY, CONFLICTS OF INTEREST, AFFILIATE FIREWALL, COMPLIANCE AND OTHER RELEVANT POLICIES AND PROCEDURES ARE ALSO AVAILABLE FROM THE 'CODE OF CONDUCT' SECTION OF THIS SITE. FITCH MAY HAVE PROVIDED ANOTHER PERMISSIBLE SERVICE TO THE RATED ENTITY OR ITS RELATED THIRD PARTIES. DETAILS OF THIS SERVICE FOR RATINGS FOR WHICH THE LEAD ANALYST IS BASED IN AN EU-REGISTERED ENTITY CAN BE FOUND ON THE ENTITY SUMMARY PAGE FOR THIS ISSUER ON THE FITCH WEBSITE.


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