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Finance: Long Beach, Tampa

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Long Beach Port Receives Favorable Bond Ratings from Standard & Poor’s and Fitch 

Standard & Poor’s Rating Services and Fitch Ratings recently assigned "AA" ratings to the City of Long Beach Harbor Department’s upcoming bond issuance and outstanding debt.

The agencies said the AA rating was warranted by the port’s strong market position, guaranteed minimum payments by port tenants and the port’s robust debt service coverage. Their reports concluded that the port’s efforts to repay debt from the ongoing capital improvement projects should remain stable due to its strong financial metrics and "considerable liquidity."

The agencies assigned the AA rating to $194 million in bonds to be issued this year and affirmed the AA rating to $860 million in senior lien harbor revenue bonds. They also affirmed their "AA-" long-term ratings on the $325 million Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan.

The ratings are good news for the Port of Long Beach as it continues to undergo a $4 billion capital improvement program this decade. The improvements include the Middle Harbor Terminal Redevelopment Program and the Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement Project.

Port Tampa Bay Again Receives Credit Affirmation and Upgraded "Positive" Outlook by Fitch Ratings
Fitch Ratings has reaffirmed the Port Tampa Bay’s credit rating of A and given it a "positive" outlook. That represents an upgrade from the port authority’s "stable" rating in recent years. Similar conclusions have been other ratings agencies such as Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s (Advisory, April 15, 2014).

Fitch cites the port’s achievements in revenue generation, relatively low debt service levels, strong liquidity position, and the economic conditions in Hillsborough County as key factors in its analyses. It also notes the port’s long-term lease revenues, diverse business mix, and the state of Florida’s significant population growth.

Historically, the port relied on high-volume, low-value bulk cargoes such as phosphate and petroleum for the majority of its business. For the past decade, it has pursued a policy of diversification, as reflected by strong cruise activity and increased container operations, creating a more varied revenue base. Additional strengths are the port’s increasing intermodal connectivity—including the recently-completed I-4 connector—and the TPA’s taxing authority. In recent years, the port authority has focused on expansion of container facilities, augmentation of bulk cargo berthing capacity and rehabilitation of petroleum docks.  

"We are very pleased to once again receive affirmation of our credit rating and very excited and proud of the upgrade in our outlook from "Stable" to "Positive" from Fitch Ratings this year," said Port President Paul Anderson. "Such recognition of our financial strength and long-term performance enables the port to continue to build upon its capital infrastructure and strategic plan in all areas and is a confirmation of the direction Port Tampa Bay is headed. We will continue to engage in wise investments and develop a world-class port." 

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