The Week Ahead

Northeast Leads a Big Week

Issuers from the Northeast will take the spotlight as the New York City Transitional Finance Authority and Pennsylvania each plan to sell at least $1 billion this week in the heaviest calendar of municipal bond deals in more than a month.

Those offerings and three other debt sales for transportation and utility projects will be in the forefront as the primary market prepares for an estimated $8.31 billion in new volume this week, according to Ipreo LLC and The Bond Buyer.

The TFA plans to sell $1.14 billion of future tax-secured bonds tomorrow after a retail order period today by senior book-runner Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Structured as seven series — including taxable Build America Bonds and tax-exempt subordinate debt — the deal is rated Aa1 by Moody’s Investors Service, AAA by Standard & Poor’s and AA-plus by Fitch Ratings.

The structure includes $400 million of refunding bonds — $20 million of which will be bid competitively tomorrow — $342 million of taxable BABs, $250 million of additional BABs that will be the authority’s first-ever qualified school construction bond debt, $70 million of traditional taxable municipal bonds that will also be bid competitively tomorrow, and $78 million of taxable BABs to be sold to the New York State Division of Lottery.

The competitive deals will range in maturity from 2011 to 2015, but the exact maturities for the other portions of the deal were still being finalized at press time Friday.

The week’s slate should attract a fair amount of attention from both retail and institutional investors looking for value and opportunity as the market approaches spring rollover season, according to Michael Pietronico, president of Miller Tabak Asset Management in New York.

In addition, muni mutual funds, where inflows had slowed from their torrid 2009 pace earlier in the year, continue to garner new money — more than $1.1 billion in the last four weeks.

“The recent volatility in the equity market perhaps adds a more positive backdrop for demand,” he said. “With European sovereign debt experiencing some downside pressure, large institutional investors may have a greater appetite for high-quality Build America issuers.”

“We expect the New York TFA deal to see the best retail response as the float of sizeable, quality New York paper in the secondary market has been thin,” Pietronico added.

Pennsylvania’s two-pronged, competitive sale of general obligation bonds is scheduled for Wednesday. The larger of the two series will consist of $548.9 million of taxable GOs structured to mature from 2022 to 2030, and the $451.1 million series consists of tax-exempt GOs maturing from 2011 to 2021.

The state’s GOs are rated Aa1 by Moody’s, AA by Standard & Poor’s AA-plus by Fitch.

Elsewhere in the region, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority are gearing up to issue sizable deals.

The $650 million MWAA Dulles Toll Road revenue bond sale, originally planned for last week remains on week-to-week status, according to authority officials. They postponed the deal’s pricing due to turbulence stemming from the European debt crisis.

Book-runners Morgan Stanley and Citi were planning to price the deal Wednesday, but MWAA chief financial officer Andrew T. Rountree last week said he was waiting for a “sense of normalcy” before issuing the bonds.

The Washington airport deal was one of the few that were affected by the aftermath of a May 6 monetary policy meeting by the European Central Bank, which triggered a two basis-point gain in municipals, and is considered one of the factors that led to a nearly 1,000-point decline, or 9.2% drop, in the Dow Jones industrial average.

“The benefit we have is we can be very flexible,” Rountree said in an interview last week. He added that the timing of the deal “is not absolutely critical to us. We have the luxury to wait a bit until markets settle.” Proceeds from the issue will finance an extension of the Metro rail system to Dulles and capital improvement projects.

The Massachusetts transportation deal will bring $893 million of Series 2010B metropolitan highway system senior revenue bonds to market structured as serial bonds maturing from 2011 to 2027. The issue also includes a term bond in 2032 that is subject to a mandatory sinking fund beginning in 2030, and a 2037 term that is subject to a mandatory sinking fund beginning in 2033.

The bonds, which are slated to be priced tomorrow by Citi after a retail order period today, are expected to be rated A3 by Moody’s, A by Standard & Poor’s and A-plus by Fitch.

The New York State Dormitory Authority will round out the region’s activity with its sale of $341 million of revenue debt slated to be priced by Roosevelt & Cross on Wednesday with a structure that includes four series of bonds ranging in maturity from 2011 to 2040. The precise details were still being hammered out at press time.

Elsewhere, a $680.4 million sale of taxable BABs and tax-exempt refunding bonds from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and a $318.4 million sale of revenue bonds from the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority will add to the new-issue activity.

The LADWP deal is expected to be priced by Morgan Stanley on Thursday, though details about the structure were unavailable late Friday.

The triple-tax-exempt Puerto Rico deal is planned for pricing on Wednesday by JPMorgan following a retail order period set for tomorrow. The bonds, which are structured to mature from 2021 to 2028, are expected to carry ratings of A3 from Moody’s and BBB-plus from Standard & Poor’s and Fitch.

Switching gears to the Southeast, the East Baton Rouge Sewerage Commission plans to sell a total of $375.3 million of debt in a two-pronged offering being senior-managed and priced by JPMorgan on Thursday.

The deal, which is secured by the net revenues of the system, consists of $359.8 million of taxable, direct-pay revenue BABs structured to mature serially from 2015 to 2025 with term bonds in 2030 and 2045, as well as $15.5 million of tax-exempt revenue debt structured as serials from 2011 to 2014. Both series are expected to be rated Aa2 by Moody’s, AA-minus by Standard & Poor’s and AA by Fitch.

Elsewhere in the region, the North Carolina Municipal Power Agency #1 will bring $145 million of Catawba nuclear project electric revenue refunding bonds to market in a two-pronged deal slated for pricing led by Morgan Stanley on ­Wednesday.

The bonds, which are rated A2 by Moody’s and A by Standard & Poor’s and Fitch, are structured as $74.6 million of Series 2010A bonds maturing from 2014 to 2021 and $70.4 million of Series 2010B bonds maturing in 2020 and 2021. Both will refund outstanding Catawba debt and are secured by a first lien on net revenues of the agency.

Among the other deals planned for this week is a $250 million sale of project revenue bonds from Ohio for a major new state infrastructure project. They are being priced by senior-manager Bank of America Merrill tomorrow.

The deal, rated Aa1 by Moody’s, AA by Standard & Poor’s, and AA-minus by Fitch, will consist of $97.7 million of tax-exempt bonds in Series 2010-1 maturing from 2011 to 2015 and $117.2 million of taxable debt in Series 2010-2 maturing from 2016 to 2021, according to the preliminary official statement. Individual investors will get first crack at the tax-exempt bonds today during a retail order period before tomorrow’s official pricing.

This week’s upcoming calendar is estimated to include $1 billion more bonds than last week, when a revised $7.15 billion in new volume was priced, according to Thomson Reuters. Although the market was still mulling the European debt mess, many deals came to market as planned.

Seattle, for instance, brought the largest deal of the week Thursday on behalf of Washington Municipal Light and Power. Its $791.7 million sale of improvement and refunding revenue bonds was priced by Citi with a multi-faceted structure that included $181.6 million of BABs, $596.9 million of tax-exempts, and $13.3 million of recovery zone economic development bonds .

The longest maturity in the BAB series was 2040 priced to yield 5.57% at a time when the generic triple-A GO scale in 2040 was 3.99% and the benchmark 30-year Treasury bond was 4.19%, according to Municipal Market Data. The bonds are rated Aa2 by Moody’s and AA-minus by Standard & Poor’s.


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