Port Tampa Bay has announced that Fitch Ratings has reaffirmed the port’s credit rating of A- and has provided the authority with a “Stable” outlook. The announcement this week falls on the heels of both Standard & Poor’s (S&P) and Moody’s ratings agencies’ affirmations of the port’s credit ratings received in recent months.
Attainment of consistent credit ratings performance and outlooks has been increasingly difficult for ports to achieve in the economic climate of recent years, according to information from the port. However, Fitch and the other major ratings firms continue to cite Tampa’s achievements in revenue generation, relatively low debt service levels, strong liquidity position, and the economic conditions in Hillsborough County as key factors in their analyses. Other pertinent factors cited as strengths refer to 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. 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 recently-completed I-4 connector—and 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. Practical financial decisions, guided by a business-model approach and an eye on diversification, have enabled the port to experience financial success.
“It is very gratifying to receive affirmation of our credit rating and even more importantly, a Stable outlook from Fitch Ratings—and to know that each of the big three ratings firms continues to recognize our financial strength and long-term performance in this area. Port Tampa Bay is extremely fortunate to have an efficient board of commissioners and staff carrying out strategic decisions for the port, and it is our responsibility to engage in smart investments as we develop our enterprise into a truly world-class port. Consistent high ratings help guide our every step,” commented Paul Anderson, president and CEO.