Prices on asbestos-related credits such as Owens Corning, USG Corp. and W.R. Grace have popped up in recent weeks and could jump higher, as tort reform appears to be gaining steam. While reform prospects have long seemed like whistling in the wind for some, this week's announcement from Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) the legislation is "very close" to a deal as well as endorsement from the Auto Workers Union has market participants optimistic.
"The credits have gone up and down like yo-yos but this time it looks like it's serious and you can see an end in sight," said Gary Hindes, managing director at distressed shop Deltec Asset Management in New York. Mid-week, Owens' 7 1/2s of '18 were bid at 77 1/4 and its 7s of '09 were bid as high as 78, up from the mid-60s in recent weeks. "A week ago it looked like there was maybe a 10% chance and now it's more like 20-40%," noted one distressed analyst.