USA: Future Looks Bright for Tampa Port
The Tampa Port Authority has announced that the ratings firm of Standard & Poor’s (S&P) Ratings Services has reaffirmed the authority’s credit rating of A- and has provided the authority with a “Stable” outlook. The S&P rating marks the third credit affirmation and “Stable” outlook rating received by the authority in the last 12 months. In December 2011, Moody’s Investor Service and, in March 2011, Fitch Ratings, also affirmed the authority’s credit rating and also provided “Stable” outlooks. .
This type of positive rating and outlook has been increasingly difficult for ports to achieve in the economic climate of recent years. However, S&P cited the authority’s achievements in revenue, relatively low debt service levels and the economic conditions in Hillsborough County as key factors in its rating. The port authority realized record operating revenues for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2011. S&P also referred to the authority’s long-term lease revenues, its diversity in its business lines and the state of Florida’s significant population growth as strengths, similar to the positive attributes mentioned by Moody’s and Fitch.
Historically, the port relied on high-volume, low-value bulk cargoes such as phosphate and petroleum for the majority of its business. The port’s subsequent diversification throughout the last decade, including strong cruise activity and increased container operations, has enabled the port to expand its revenue mix. Additional strengths are the port’s increasing intermodal connectivity—including the under-construction I-4 connector the TPA’s taxing authority.
In recent years, the port authority has been working toward a strategic, aggressive capital campaign that has focused on expansion of container facilities, augmentation of bulk cargo berthing capacity and rehabilitation of petroleum docks, which are critical for the west and central Florida market. Wise financial decisions, guided by a business-model approach and an eye on diversification, have enabled the port authority to experience financial success.
“We are very pleased to receive recognition and a positive affirmation by Standard and Poor’s Ratings Services. We have fully committed to fiduciary responsibility and to making smart short- and long-term investments in developing the Port of Tampa,” Richard Wainio, port director and chief executive, said.
The largest port in Florida and one of the nation’s largest and most cargo-diverse seaports, major cruise home port, and shipbuilding/ship repair center, the Port of Tampa is the largest economic engine in west-central Florida, generating nearly 100,000 jobs and $8 billion in annual economic impact.
Dredging Today Staff, January 16, 2012;