Fitch Ratings affirmed the Nelson Gallery Foundation’s AA rating but revised its outlook to stable from positive ahead of a $35 million refunding.
The bonds are being sold through the Missouri Development Finance Board to refund debt sold in 2001. The foundation has $183 million of outstanding debt rated by Fitch.
“The outlook revision reflects a weaker than expected financial position than when the positive outlook was assigned in Aug. 2007,” analysts said.
At the time, it was expected that investment returns, contributions, and attendance growth would offset the foundation’s increased costs related to its construction of the new Bloch Building at the Nelson-Atkins Museum, but those improved results failed to materialize following the fiscal crisis that began in September 2008,
“The stable outlook is supported by NGF’s experienced management team, improved facilities, and regional reputation, which Fitch expects will enable it to maintain museum attendance at current levels,” analysts wrote.
The credit benefits from strong, though weakened, balance sheet liquidity; demonstrated fundraising capabilities; and strong community support through corporations, foundations, and individuals. It is hurt by a high debt burden and reliance on investment income and philanthropy to support operations.