CIT says it'll lose $1.5 billion in second quarter

CIT Group (CIT) may have convinced its bondholders to rescue it from the brink of bankruptcy yesterday. But that doesn't mean it's out of danger yet.

The embattled commercial lender revealed in a regulatory filing today that it will post a $1.5 billion loss in the second quarter. And with $1 billion in debt coming due next month, it won't have the cash to stay in business unless it can convince investors holding the notes to take a big hit. If too few agree, bankruptcy could follow, it said.
That was unpleasant news for investors, who pushed CIT's stock down some 25 percent in midday trading. The broader markets dipped, too, when the company's stock started trading around 10 a.m. after a 30-minute halt connected to the news. (To be fair, Fed chairman Ben Bernanke was testifying before Congress at that time as well.)

The revelations come on the heels of a deal between CIT and its bondholders to provide the lender with $3 billion in financing to help it stave off a bankruptcy filing and less than a week after regulators denied it a government bailout.

The makeup of CIT's loss shows just how dire its situation is. The lender is setting aside $500 million to cover future credit losses. And it suffered $183 million in losses on a $1 billion bundle of business receivables that were sold for "liquidity purposes" -- in other words, to keep the lights on.

To cover next month's debt payment, CIT says it'll ask bondholders to accept 82.5 cents on the dollar.

Making CIT's situation all the worse has been its customers' reaction to its woes: Unsurprisingly, they've been rapidly drawing down their credit lines with the lender. These businesses may not need the money now, but they don't want to take the chance they won't be able to get it later if CIT goes under.

The filing should take most of the suspense out of the lender's official earnings announcement in a couple of weeks -- unless, that is, they can't deliver the results they've already implicitly promised investors. If that happens, it means things are even worse than they seem for CIT.
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