Norfolk – Moody's Investors Service and Standard & Poor's, two leading international bond rating agencies, have affirmed the strength of $274 million in outstanding port facilities revenue bonds sold by the Virginia Port Authority and gave a "stable" outlook in their rating of the bonds.
Following its review of VPA's overall financial plans, Moody's this week issued its report and in doing so revised its position of the bonds to "stable" from negative, which was issued in 2012. The agency assigned the bonds an Aa3 rating, which is the fourth highest rating out of 21.
"The stable outlook on VPA's port facilities revenue bonds is based on Moody's assumption that VPA will be able to maintain its competitive position among East Coast container ports with low-to-mid single-digit container volume growth and no revenue bond debt issuance in the near-term to fund capital improvements," the Moody's report said. "The outlook also incorporates Moody's view that VPA management will prudently handle the VIT governance transition and the port's operations going forward."
Last week S&P, affirmed its A+ rating on the VPA bonds; the "A" rating category is its third-best among 10.
"The rating reflects our view of the authority's historically good financial performance, despite recent fluctuating container volumes due to the recession," the S&P report summary said. "The rating further reflects our view of the port's strong historical debt service coverage by pledged net revenue; and good competitive position as a deep-channel port with a central location on the East Coast, improved rail connections to the Midwest and a history of performance."
"To reestablish our stable outlook with Moody's and to continue to carry the A+ rating from S&P says a lot about the job being done here and the rating agencies expectations for the future of The Port of Virginia," said VPA Interim Executive Director Rodney W. Oliver. "This also sends out a larger, very positive message to our customers and stakeholders about the fiscal health and well-being of the port."