ALAMEDA, Calif. — Buoyed by a one-notch upgrade from Standard & Poor’s, the Guam Power Authority is preparing to sell more than $200 million of power revenue bonds this month.
Standard & Poor’s last week upgraded the GPA’s senior revenue bonds to BBB from BBB-minus. The action affects about $381 million of outstanding revenue bonds, in addition to the planned new issue.
“We believe the authority’s financial performance is sustainable given the improvements to its operations and regulatory relationship and Guam’s economy,” Standard & Poor’s analyst Theodore Chapman said in a news release.
Standard & Poor’s brought the authority back to investment grade in December 2008.
The tone of the marketing for the new transaction may hang on the ratings from the other two main agencies, which have yet to announce if they will spring the power agency from speculative grade.
Fitch Ratings currently rates the Power Authority’s bonds BB-plus, and Moody’s Investors Service rates the debt Ba1. Both agencies have a positive outlook.
The Pacific island territory of about 180,000 residents has been battered over the past decade by a massive typhoon, and major fluctuations in tourism. Guam is heavily dependent on visitors from Japan and Korea, though a planned expansion of U.S. military facilities is expected to spur the economy.
“The territory will always face risks because of the vulnerability of the tourism industry due to factors such as macroeconomic cycles, especially in Asia, and severe weather events,” Chapman said. “But we believe the authority is better situated against such contingencies than at any time in its recent history.”
Preliminary plans call for the GPA to issue about $180 million of senior revenue bonds, plus about $55 million of subordinate-lien revenue bonds, according to Standard & Poor’s, which assigned its BBB-minus rating to the subordinate bonds.
Preliminary plans call for a tax-exempt series to be used to refund some outstanding debt, and the use of Build America Bonds for new-money debt.
As a U.S. territory, interest on any tax-exempt debt would be triple tax-exempt from all state, local, and federal income taxes.