As of January, there were 88 other companies with the identical Moody's Speculative-Grade Liquidity rating as Realogy ["15 Companies That Might Not Survive 2009," usnews.com]. In short, your highly speculative blog post used a set of data to analyze Realogy without any further consideration of the broader context or our company's strengths and proactive measures in this economy. Thus Realogy was unfairly lumped into a category in which we do not belong. During the past several years Realogy has moved aggressively to mitigate the impact of the economy on our company. We have successfully reduced our overhead by more than $350 million and continue to focus on maximizing the effectiveness of our cost structure. As we have focused on costs we have been equally focused on growth. In spite of the woes of the housing market we have made great progress in advancing our company. From new franchise sales to the retention of the top-tier brokers and sales associates to signing new clients at Cartus and Title Resource Group, we continue to be forward thinking and highly focused on the future of our company and the industry. In 2009, we expect to benefit from considerably lower interest rates since a significant portion of our bank debt is tied to LIBOR; none of our corporate debt is due until at least 2013; and unlike many companies in today's economy, we have the support and commitment of one of the best financed private equity firms in the country, Apollo Management. Private equity funds managed by Apollo Management and co-investors originally invested $2 billion in Realogy so clearly Apollo has a substantial ongoing interest in the success of Realogy. If there is any question as to Apollo's overall financial strength, one need only look to Apollo's success in raising approximately $15 billion in capital last month for its newest investment fund. Your readers who do their own due diligence should recognize that Realogy is one company that will survive 2009.
Mark Panus, SVP Corporate Communications, Realogy Corporation, Parsippany, N .J.
In regard to your recent article, we view your comments about Claire's Stores as highly speculative and irresponsible. Had we had an opportunity to comment prior to publication we would have noted that Claire's has an extremely flexible capital structure with no near-term debt maturities and no financial covenants. Furthermore, as of the company's last report it had $194 million of cash. While the retail business has been difficult lately, Claire's is a value provider well suited for today's times and is comfortable with its financial condition.
Steven Anreder, Spokesman, Claire's Stores, Inc.