The Tampa Port Authority (TPA) has announced that Moody’s Investor Service has affirmed an “A2” rating of the port authority’s outstanding revenue bonds and has also provided the port authority with a Ratings Outlook of “Stable”.  The Moody’s rating comes on the heels of Fitch Ratings’ equivalent credit affirmation and “stable” outlook received by the TPA in March 2011.

This type of positive rating has been increasingly difficult for ports to achieve in the economic climate of recent years, according to a statement from TPA. However, Moody’s emphasized the port’s healthy, diversified business mix, including long-term leases and an expanding revenue base as well as prudent cost control, relatively low debt levels, and Florida’s significant population growth as key contributors to the favorable rating.  Moreover, the port authority realized record operating revenues for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2011.

Historically, the port has 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. In addition, the port’s increasing intermodal connectivity—including the under-construction I-4 connector and the TPA’s taxing authority are further strengths cited by Moody’s.

In recent years, the port authority said it 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. The TPA has also been building up its cruise business.

“We have remained committed to fiduciary responsibility and to making investments that make the most sense for the Port of Tampa, both in the short term and the long term. We are extremely pleased to again be recognized with an ‘A2’ rating and a ‘stable’ outlook by Moody’s,” Richard Wainio, port director and chief executive, said.

The TPA said it is the largest economic engine in west-central Florida, responsible for nearly 100,000 jobs and $8 billion in annual economic impact