Buy Side

N.J. TTFA's $750M Sale Leads Shortened Week

Amid continued strong demand and recent firmness that saw some yields decline as much as 12 basis points in spots during new-issue pricing last week, a $750 million revenue offering from the New Jersey Transportation Trust Fund Authority will further test the strength of the market this week.

The deal from the Garden State is the largest on the calendar and will come to market in a somewhat attenuated trading week as a result of tomorrow's Veteran's Day observance and an early close today.

To help generate additional interest, state officials Friday unveiled a new Web site - www.BuyNJBonds.gov - to educate residents on New Jersey bond offerings and will begin radio and newspaper advertisements promoting the sale.

The deal is part of an estimated $4.84 billion of total combined new-issue volume expected this week - $4.56 billion in negotiated sales, and an estimated $286.4 million in competitive sales, according to Thomson Reuters. That is a slight increase from last week when the market saw a revised $3.83 billion in total negotiated sales and $222.6 million in total competitive sales.

The New Jersey deal is planned for pricing on Thursday following a retail order period on Wednesday by senior book-runner Merrill Lynch & Co. The deal will be comprised of $500 million of current interest bonds and $250 million of capital appreciation bonds, but the exact structure was still being decided at press time on Friday.

Moody's Investors Service rates the bonds A1, Standard & Poor's rates them AA-minus, and Fitch Ratings rates the bonds A-plus.

Also in the Northeast, the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York is planning to issue $659.9 million of state personal income tax bonds in a three-pronged deal being senior-managed by Morgan Stanley and priced on Thursday.

The deal is comprised of Series 2008B bonds for education purposes, Series 2008C tax-exempt bonds, also for education purposes, and a Series 2008C taxable component for economic development and housing projects.

The maturity structure of the deal was still being finalized at press time on Friday. The bonds will carry ratings of AAA from Standard & Poor's and AA-minus from Fitch.

Fred Yosca, managing director of trading and underwriting at BNY Capital Markets LLC in New York City, said the DASNY deal should be well sought after given the strong demand among investors for high-quality paper.

"That credit is in favor right now because the manta for the fourth quarter of 2008 is 'credit is king,' " Yosca said. "Stand-alone triple-A paper is very much in favor. Quality spreads have widened out, and the beneficiary of that is a credit like the personal income tax credit in New York."

Relative to other states, New York paper is "trading cheap," according to Yosca, who said there is strong retail appetite chasing bonds due between 11 and 20 years. "We are seeing good retail flows and we're not being buried by new issues by any means. New York is bringing issues, but they are being placed."

Last Monday, for instance, DASNY brought an $85 million offering of revenue bonds on behalf of the Rochester Institute of Technology that was rated A1 by Moody's and was priced with a 6% coupon due in 2033 to yield 6.25%, according to the final pricing wire published by senior manager RBC Capital Markets LLC.

At the time, the generic, triple-A general obligation scale in 2033 was yielding 5.24%, according to Municipal Market Data.

Elsewhere in the Empire State last week, a $672. 1 million New York Urban Development Corp. sale of service contract revenue refunding bonds was priced with a 5.62% coupon in 2028 to yield 5.75%. The bonds, which were rated AA-minus by Standard & Poor's and A-plus by Fitch, yielded 75 basis points more than the generic triple-A GO bond due in 2028 at the time of the pricing, according to MMD.

In other new-issue activity, three other sizable deals poised to take advantage of the strong demand - and potential additional price firmness this week - include education, pollution control, and health care deals in the Southeast and Southwest regions.

A $593 million sale of certificates of participation from the Arizona School Facilities Board is expected to be priced on Wednesday by RBC. The Series 2008 bonds, which are rated A1 by Moody's and AA-minus by Standard & Poor's, are structured to mature from 2010 to 2023.

Meanwhile, the Palm Beach County, Fla., Solid Waste Authority will bring $342 million of its pollution control revenue bonds to market when Citi prices its two-pronged deal on Thursday.

The deal is structured with $214 million of bonds subject to the alternative minimum tax maturing from 2009 to 2024, and $128 million of non-AMT bonds maturing from 2024 to 2028.

Elsewhere, a $328 million health care offering being sold by conduit issuers in two separate states will be priced on Thursday by Citi with a structure that includes bonds maturing from 2010 to 2038 and rated A1 by Moody's and AA-minus by Standard & Poor's.

The offering will be comprised of $238 million of health care revenue bonds being issued by Tarrant County, Tex., and an additional $44 million of health care revenue bonds being issued by Louisiana. The bonds are being sold on behalf of the Christus Health Obligated Group, a faith-based, nonprofit health system comprised of more than 40 hospitals, clinics, and health care facilities in 70 cities in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Utah, New Mexico, Missouri, and Georgia.

Looking ahead to next week, New York City announced last week that it plans to market $400 million of tax-exempt new-money general obligation bonds. The city expects to begin a two-day retail order period on next Monday with institutional pricing beginning that Wednesday.

Merrill Lynch & Co will serve as book-running senior manager and Citi, JPMorgan, and Morgan Stanley will be co-senior managers on the deal.

Sidley Austin LLP is bond counsel. Public Resources Advisory Group and A.C. Advisory Inc. are financial advisers. The bonds' structure has yet to be determined. The bond proceeds will be used to finance the city's ongoing capital program. Standard & Poor's rates the city's GO AA and Moody's rates it Aa3. Fitch Ratings assigns its AA-minus rating.


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