Morningstar Goes Analytic, Unveils Its Muni Research

Morningstar entered the analyst research sector for public finance Monday as it unveiled its fundamental municipal research offering. The research will focus on 100 municipal issuers and reports for about one million muni bonds.

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Comments (1)
Investment firms need to step up their game in monitoring and watching municipalities as more cities are on the brink. This includes reviewing bond documents, operating budgets, capital plans, revenue forecasts, infrastructure asset management practices and CAFRs to determine the financial management and capabilities of an organization. Likewise, municipalities and water and wastewater districts need prepare accordingly. The adjustments of revenue to service levels and the maintenance of current assets have not been made. Many California cities are on the brink, general funds and enterprise funds. Many organizations have deferred hundreds of millions of dollars and cut back maintenance staff which will cause premature failure of aging assets in all activities -public works, streets, fleet, marinas, parks, facilities, water, sewer, storm drain. There is a surging tidal wave of failing infrastructure which will impact municipalities' future ability to fund growth projects. Infrastructure Asset Management technology and practices need to be applied in order to best allocate competing and limited funding matching the best infrastructure investment strategy to available funding.

As bonds are issued for 20-30-40 years, there exists the need to forecast infrastructure renewal and replacement project costs and new growth projects for the same planning periods in order to get a AAA. Best practices from Government Finance Officers Association(GFOA) propose long-term financial planning and the Water Finance Research Foundation (WFRF) proposes infrastructure asset management planning with condition assessments in order to maintain assets in the most cost effective manner while meeting approved service levels. This should be done in a collabortive effort with elected officials, city management, finance, planning, and the public. Technology and GIS plays a large part in developing the best low cost practices in infrastructure maintenance and asset management planning.

Audited financial statements is only one small part of the financial profile of an organization and does not capture the magnitude of issues they face into the future.
Posted by Gregory B | Wednesday, August 01 2012 at 11:08PM ET
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