The markets fell sharply on Friday, due to reports of stock market regulation in China.
We headed into the second week of the first quarter earnings season this week. The highlight of earnings has been the big banks, who released results this week. Other big names included Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), Intel (INTC), General Electric (GE) and Honeywell (HON).
In economic news, there was worse-than-expected employment data and disappointing housing starts data.
- Tuckahoe UFSD NY: Moody’s has upgraded to Aa3 from A1 the rating on Tuckahoe Union Free School District’s (NY) $18.6 million of outstanding general obligation debt. Concurrently, Moody’s assigns Aa3 rating to $9.5 million School District Refunding Serial Bonds, 2015. The Aa3 rating reflects the moderately sized tax base characterized by above average wealth, an improved financial position that is expected to continue its positive trend, and average debt profile with above average principal payout.
- Houston Housing Finance Corp: Moody’s has upgraded Houston Housing Finance Corp., TX from Aa1 to Aa2. The upgrade to Aa1 from Aa2 is based on substantially improved financial strength of the bond program as well as improved cash flow projections. New program information as of 12/31/2014 increases the program’s asset-to-debt ratio to 1.12×.
- Iowa County, WI: Moody’s has upgraded to Aa3 from A1 the rating on Iowa County, WI’s $3.9 million in general obligation (GO) debt outstanding. The upgrade reflects the county’s increased reserve levels driven by conservative budgetary management. The Aa3 rating also incorporates the county’s modestly-sized tax base, average resident wealth levels, and modest debt and pension burdens.
- Anderson Union High School District: Moody’s has upgraded Anderson Union High School District to Aa3. The upgrade to Aa3 reflects growth in the modestly sized tax base and incorporates the district’s below average socio-economic indicators. The upgrade is supported by the district’s very healthy financial position, evidenced by ample reserve levels, despite state funding cuts, and a strong cash position. The Aa3 rating also reflects the district’s low debt and average pension burdens.
- Humble Independent School District: Moody’s has upgraded Humble Independent School District to Aa1 from Aa2. The Aa1 rating reflects the district’s well-managed financial operations, evidenced by a trend of operating surpluses, which resulted in healthy reserves and ample liquidity. The rating is also based on the continuing trend of growth in the district’s sizeable and diverse tax base that we expect to continue in the near-term, above average socioeconomic indices, and sustained enrollment growth. In addition, the rating incorporates elevated debt burden and moderate near-term additional borrowing plans.
- Eastern Lebanon County School District, PA: Moody’s has upgraded the underlying rating of Eastern Lebanon County School District, PA to A2 from A3. The upgrade of the district’s underlying rating to A2 incorporates the district’s improved fund balance and liquidity over the past several years, driven by revenue growth and conservative budgeting practices. The A2 rating also factors the moderately sized tax base with average wealth indices and manageable debt burden.
- New Jersey County College Enhancement Bond Program: Moody’s has downgraded New Jersey County College Enhancement Bond Program (Chapter 12) financing level ratings of five counties to A3 from A2. The program’s rating and outlook are directly linked to the state’s general obligation bond rating (A2 negative – see report dated April 16, 2015), but notched below because state payment of debt service on the Chapter 12 (New Jersey County College Bond Act, P.L. 1971 c. 12) debt is subject to annual appropriation by the state.
- New Jersey: Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded New Jersey’s general obligation bonds to A2 from A1. The downgrade to A2 was driven by the lack of improvement in the state’s weak financial position and large structural imbalance, primarily related to continued pension contribution shortfalls. We expect liquidity and structural balance to remain very weak through fiscal 2016 – a longer period than contemplated in the A1 rating – despite some stabilization in budget performance, economy, and liquidity. Beyond fiscal 2016, the state’s plan to restore long-term structural balance relies on economic growth and further pension reforms, which have uncertain timing and impact. The A2 rating also incorporates New Jersey’s diverse economy and high wealth levels, as well as the governor’s broad powers to reduce expenditures.
- Trinity Area SD, PA: Moody’s has downgraded the Trinity Area School District’s (PA) general obligation rating to Baa1 from A2. The downgrade to Baa1 from A2 reflects the district’s narrow financial position following several consecutive years of reserve draws and the use of one-time measures to alleviate near-term budgetary pressures. The rating also incorporates the district’s moderately sized tax base with average wealth levels and manageable long-term liabilities for debt service and pensions.
- Texas Southern University: Moody’s downgrades Texas Southern University’s (TSU) Revenue Financing System bonds to Baa3 from Baa2. The downgrade to Baa3 reflects our expectations that operations will continue to be imbalanced despite cost reduction strategies implemented by the university. Liquidity remains very thin, providing an increasingly narrow cushion to operations and debt, which will be further pressured with additional debt expected in the next year.
- Bound Brook, NJ: Moody’s has downgraded to A2 from A1 the rating on the borough of Bound Brook, NJ’s outstanding general obligation unlimited tax (GOULT) debt. The downgrade to A2 reflects the borough’s small and weakening tax base as well as its below average and deteriorating wealth levels. The rating also takes into account the borough’s narrow but satisfactory finances.