The equity markets ended in the red for the first four days of the week. On Friday, the markets fell, but recovered in the afternoon.
There were only a few notable earnings releases including McCormick & Company (MKC), Paychex (PAYX), Accenture (ACN), and Finish Line (FINL). In economic news, there were mixed results. There was an increase in both existing home sales and new home sales for February. On the flipside, durable goods orders plunged in February.
The big story this week was the announcement of the mega-merger between Kraft Foods (KRFT) and H.J Heinz.
U.S. treasuries began the week on a strong note, but ended the week in red.
- Weslaco, TX: Moody’s has upgraded the City of Weslaco, TX’s general obligation rating to A2 from A3. The A2 rating reflects the city’s expanding tax base and the dramatically improved cash and fund balance position. The rating further reflects the city’s below average socioeconomic indicators, above average unemployment rate, and reliance on economically sensitive sales tax revenues.
- Wheatfield, NY: Moody’s has upgraded the town of Wheatfield’s (NY) $10.4 million of outstanding general obligation limited tax debt to Aa3 from A2. The upgrade to Aa3 reflects the town’s strong operating performance and healthy reserve position despite planned reserve draws. The rating also incorporates the town’s moderately- sized tax base, above average socioeconomic indicators, and manageable debt and pension burden.
- Alexandria Independent School District 206, MN: Moody’s has upgraded the underlying rating on Alexandria Independent School District 206, MN’s outstanding general obligation (GO) debt to A1 from A2. The A1 underlying rating reflects the district’s sizable and diverse tax base serving as a retail, commercial and tourism hub for the region; implementation of financial policies and more conservative budgeting practices; significant improvement in General Fund balance and liquidity to sound levels following several years of deficits; heavy reliance on state aid revenues; elevated debt burden; and exposure to unfunded pension liabilities.
- Exeter NH: Moody’s has upgraded Exeter NH’s General Obligation bonds to A1 from A2. The A1 rating upgrade reflects the town’s medium-sized tax base with above average wealth levels, manageable debt burden, and a multiple year trend of improving financial operations and satisfactory reserves.
- Lafayette, IN: Moody’s has downgraded City of Lafayette’s (IN) pre-circuit breaker lease revenue debt to A1 from Aa2. Debt service on the rated lease revenue debt of the city and the park district is ultimately secured by an ad valorem property tax pledge on all taxable property within the city and the district, the boundaries of which are coterminous.The A1 rating on the city’s pre-circuit breaker lease revenue debt reflects Lafayette’s moderately-sized tax base with significant taxpayer concentration; weak socio-economic profile; some economic stability provided by the city’s proximity to Purdue University (Aaa stable) in nearby West Lafayette; weakened financial operations, as evidenced by a deficit General Fund balance; alternate liquidity outside of the General Fund; and manageable debt and pension obligations.The A2 rating on the post-circuit breaker lease revenue debt of the city and the park district reflect the credit fundamentals inherent in the A1 rating on the pre-circuit breaker lease revenue debt and the more limited taxing authority provided by the post-circuit breaker pledge.
- Cook County School District 87 (Berkeley), IL: Moody’s has downgraded Cook County School District 87 (Berkeley), IL’s general obligation rating to A1 from Aa2. The downgrade to A1 reflects the district’s deteriorating financial reserves that are expected to further decline in the near future as the district utilizes existing funds for capital and one-time purchases. The rating is indicative of a declining, mature tax base within the Chicago (Baa2 negative) metropolitan area with low socioeconomic indicators. The rating further reflects the district’s modest debt burden. The district’s GOLT bonds are rated on parity with its GOULT rating and are secured by the district’s pledge to levy a tax that is unlimited by rate but limited by the amount of the district’s debt service extension base (DSEB).
- Grant County’s, NM: Moody’s has downgraded to A2 from A1 the general obligation debt rating of Grant County, NM. The downgrade to A2 from A1 reflects the county’s weakened, but still satisfactory financial reserve position after a large deficit in fiscal 2014. The A2 rating also incorporates the county’s plan to return to balanced operations through expenditure cuts and a recently implemented revenue enhancing gross receipts tax. The rating also considers the county’s moderately-sized tax base with economic concentration in copper production, below average socioeconomic profile, and modest direct debt burden.
- Detroit Public Schools, MI: Moody’s has downgraded Detroit Public Schools, MI to Caa1 from B3. The Caa1 issuer rating incorporates continued fiscal stress as indicated by significant growth in the district’s accumulated operating fund balance deficit in fiscal 2014 and ongoing declines in enrollment that pressure operating revenue and the district’s capacity to reverse the negative operating trend. The rating also considers the weak economic profile of the City of Detroit (B3 stable), the district’s substantial debt burden, and an operating budget constrained by high fixed costs. Absent enrollment and revenue growth, fixed costs will comprise a growing share of the district’s annual financial resources and potentially stress the sufficiency of year-round cash flow.