After a week full of earnings releases and economic reports, the markets opened higher on Friday,
Earnings season continued this week with releases from big-names including Apple (AAPL), Exxon (XOM), Chevron (CVX), Visa (V), Mastercard (MA), Pfizer (PFE) and Merck (MRK).
In addition to the various earnings reports this week, we also saw results from Wednesday’s FOMC meeting and the GDP report for the first quarter.
- Freeborn County, MN: Moody’s has upgraded to Aa2 from Aa3 the rating on Freeborn County, MN’s general obligation unlimited tax (GOULT) debt. The upgrade to Aa2 incorporates the county’s sizeable and growing tax base, healthy reserve and liquidity levels, and manageable debt burden.
- Taylor, MI: Moody’s has upgraded the City of Taylor’s (MI) general obligation limited tax (GOLT) rating to Baa3 from Ba1. The Baa3 GOLT rating reflects the city’s narrow though improved financial position; limited financial flexibility; moderately sized tax base with significant recent declines; and low income indices. Also reflected in the Baa3 rating is ongoing though moderating pressure tied to debt service expenses and the city’s above average pension burden. The rating also considers the constitutional and statutory limitations on the operating revenues available to pay debt service.
- Stafford County, VA: Moody’s has upgraded Stafford County, VA to Aa1 from Aa2. The Aa1 reflects the county’s large growing tax base with above average wealth levels, healthy financial position evidenced by strong reserve levels, above average debt and pension obligations.
- Canyon County School District: Moody’s has upgraded Canyon County School District No. 131 (Nampa), Idaho’s general obligation (G.O.) debt to Baa1 from Baa3. The upgrade of the rating reflects the rapid and significant improvement in the district’s financial operations, evidenced by sharply increased reserves and liquidity. The district acted swiftly to eliminate a negative fund balance, implement stronger internal controls and budget a contingency within expenditures to support continued restoration of reserves over the next several years. The rating also incorporates the district’s sizeable tax base that has resumed growth, below average wealth levels and a slightly elevated debt burden that is mitigated by rapid principal amortization and no plans to issue additional debt for the next three to five years.
- Lindenhurst Park District IL: Moody’s has downgraded Lindenhurst Park District, IL’s general obligation (GO) rating to B1 from A3. The downgrade to B1 reflects the rising risk of a default on near term debt service payments due to a weak liquidity position and reliance on operating revenues and property taxes that have yet to be collected. The rating action also incorporates the weak financial position as reflected by negative net ending fund balances in fiscal 2014; reliance on short-term bank notes to fund daily operations; and a trend of unwillingness to date to increase property tax rates or program fees to balance the operating budget. These weaknesses persist despite an only moderate debt burden and a relatively wealthy tax base, though there have been recent declines in taxable valuation.
- East Jefferson General Hospital (LA): Moody’s Investors Service downgrades East Jefferson General Hospital’s (EJGH) bond rating to Ba2 from Ba1. The rating downgrade to Ba2 is based on EJGH’s continued variable operating performance and operating losses over several years as well as failure to reach projected levels of performance for a third year in a row. The downgrade also reflects the decline in absolute unrestricted cash and investments. Furthermore, the termination of the negotiations with a potential partner leaves EJGH as one of the only remaining standalone hospitals in the metro area.
- Port of Beaumont Navigation District, TX: Moody’s downgraded to A3 from A2 the rating on the Port of Beaumont Navigation District, TX Revenue Bonds. The downgrade is based on a recent negative trend in operating revenues combined with reduced levels of unrestricted liquidity. The rating also incorporates the port’s strong and stable debt service coverage despite the undertaking of the major expansion projects, and relatively low debt levels. Moody’s notes the port’s unique niche position as the busiest military cargo port in the U.S. and the excellent interconnectivity through waterways, major highways and railroads. The diversity of cargo that passes through the port helps to stabilize operating revenues while volumes for each cargo type have fluctuated.