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Rating Action:

Moody's affirms Baa1 rating on Miami-Dade (County of) FL Port Facility's revenue bonds; outlook is stable

18 Oct 2016

New York, October 18, 2016 -- Summary Rating Rationale

Moody's Investors Service has affirmed the Baa1 rating on Miami-Dade (County of) FL Port Facility's seaport revenue bonds. The rating outlook is stable. The port has outstanding rated seaport revenue bonds of approximately $570 million.The port's Baa1 revenue bond rating benefits from the port's strong competitive position as the largest cruise port in the world, measured by annual passenger volumes, and among the largest cargo ports in the State of Florida. Close to 80% of future expected operating revenue over the next few years is covered by minimum annual guarantee revenue contracts which provides substantial revenue and cash flow visibility and allows for a higher leverage relative to peers with a lower amount of contracted revenues. However, the port's leverage, measured by direct debt to operating revenue (4.9x in fiscal year 2015), is high for its rating category and makes the port more reliant on continued revenue growth to produce adequate debt service coverage ratios. We expect that Moody's direct debt service coverage (DSCR) (1.57x in 2015) and total direct and indirect DSCR (1.06x in 2015) will show modest improvements in 2017. However, the rating is also constrained by the potential for additional debt financing over the next few years in order to partially finance a proposed $302 million five year capital plan for the period 2017-2021. Another $150 million in previously funded capital projects are also scheduled for completion between 2017-2021. Additional debt financing could erode some of the expected improvements in DSCR.We also consider the port's weak, albeit improved, liquidity profile in particular relative to its outstanding debt and required debt service. As of September 30, 2015 the port had 266 days cash on hand, an improvement to prior years. However, actual total debt service represents nearly 50% of its operating revenue, which is substantial.

Rating Outlook

The stable outlook reflects our expectation of modest improvements in direct senior DSCR starting in 2017 and total direct and indirect DSCR to be maintained at least above 1.0x based on actual debt service paid. It also reflects our expectation that the port will maintain its well-established competitive position and will maintain an adequate liquidity profile.

Factors that Could Lead to an Upgrade

Improved financial performance supporting a return to senior DSCR (Moody's net revenue calculation) of around 2.0x and total DSCR (direct and indirect debt) of around 1.2x

Sustained improvements in the port's liquidity profile

Visibility that leverage will not increase further

Factors that Could Lead to a Downgrade

Direct senior DSCR below 1.25x

Total direct and indirect DSCR (including debt issued and backed by the county) below 1.0x

Weakening competitive position resulting in lower than expected operating revenue or loss of minimum annual revenue guarantee contracts

Weakening liquidity profile

Legal Security

Direct DebtThe revenue bonds are payable solely from the revenue of the seaport and are not general obligations of the county. The general obligation (GO) bonds are payable primarily from the revenue of the seaport, and, to the extent that the revenue of the seaport is insufficient, are payable from ad valorem taxes levied on property in Miami-Dade County without limit as to rate or amount. Operating income, defined as revenue less operating expenses before depreciation must be at least 125 percent of the maximum principal and interest requirements on all revenue bonds (198% in fiscal year 2015) for any future fiscal year plus 110 percent of the maximum principal and interest requirements on general obligation bonds (632% in fiscal year 2015) for any future fiscal year. The port must have debt service reserves at least equal to 100 percent of the amount required to pay maturing principal and interest semiannually.An amendment to the master ordinance was made in FY2014, which included the addition of the State Comprehensive Enhanced Transportation System (SCETS) Tax to Seaport Revenue. The revenue stream is $8 million commencing in 2017 and $17 million in years 2018 through 2042. These revenues are to be used to pay the obligations of the Miami Tunnel Project. Moody's notes that SCETS revenues are subject to annual state appropriation.Indirect DebtSunshine state loans and capital asset special obligation acquisition bonds are not legal debt of the port, but the port has historically reimbursed the county for debt service paid from available seaport revenues. Both sunshine state loans and capital asset special obligation acquisition bonds are subordinated to the seaport revenue bonds and the seaport GO bonds.

Use of Proceeds

Not applicable.

Obligor Profile

Miami is a landlord port located in Biscayne Bay, on an island a half-mile from the City of Miami (Aa3 positive). The port is the largest multi-day homeport for cruise vessels in the world, currently with service from 18 cruise lines. In fiscal year 2015 (ending Sep 30, 2015), the port handled approx. 4.9 million passengers (-0.5% yoy). In addition the port has processed approximately 8.6 million tons of cargo (+12% yoy) and 1 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent units). The port is operated as an enterprise of Miami-Dade County, and has benefited from the county's implicit and direct support.The port's facilities total approximately 520 acres, connected to the mainland by bridges for vehicular and rail traffic. The cargo area is roughly half of the total acreage, split between three terminal operators (Seaboard Marine, POMTOC, and South Florida Container Terminal). The port owns all cranes used in cargo operations and controls their use. The port has six terminals for the full-size cruise vessels and one terminal for the smaller, cruise lines.

Methodology

The principal methodology used in this rating was Public Port Revenue Bonds published in December 2013. Please see the Rating Methodologies page on www.moodys.com for a copy of this methodology.

Regulatory Disclosures

For ratings issued on a program, series or category/class of debt, this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to each rating of a subsequently issued bond or note of the same series or category/class of debt or pursuant to a program for which the ratings are derived exclusively from existing ratings in accordance with Moody's rating practices. For ratings issued on a support provider, this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to the credit rating action on the support provider and in relation to each particular credit rating action for securities that derive their credit ratings from the support provider's credit rating. For provisional ratings, this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to the provisional rating assigned, and in relation to a definitive rating that may be assigned subsequent to the final issuance of the debt, in each case where the transaction structure and terms have not changed prior to the assignment of the definitive rating in a manner that would have affected the rating. For further information please see the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page for the respective issuer on www.moodys.com.

Regulatory disclosures contained in this press release apply to the credit rating and, if applicable, the related rating outlook or rating review.

Please see www.moodys.com for any updates on changes to the lead rating analyst and to the Moody's legal entity that has issued the rating.

Please see the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page on www.moodys.com for additional regulatory disclosures for each credit rating.

Kathrin Heitmann
Lead Analyst
Project Finance
Moody's Investors Service, Inc.
7 World Trade Center
250 Greenwich Street
New York 10007
DE
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

Kurt Krummenacker
Additional Contact
Project Finance
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

Releasing Office:
Moody's Investors Service, Inc.
250 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10007
U.S.A
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

No Related Data.
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