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Rating Action:

Moody's affirms Hill School's (PA) A1; outlook stable

23 Oct 2013

$20.9M rated debt

New York, October 23, 2013 -- Moody's Investors Service has affirmed its A1 rating on the Hill School's Series 2005 Revenue Bonds. The bonds were issued through the Montgomery County Industrial Development Authority. The outlook is stable. The school's A1 rating and stable outlook are supported by its stable market position, strong student demand, growing philanthropic support, and flexible resources.

SUMMARY RATING RATIONALE

The A1 rating reflects Hill School's stable market position as a small coeducational boarding and day high school with a broad geographic draw, ample financial resource coverage of debt, and growing donor support. These credit strengths are offset by the school's modest balance sheet growth relative to peers, moderately high operating leverage at the current rating, and small enrollment that leaves it vulnerable to even modest volatility in enrollment or expenses.

STRENGTHS

*The Hill's stable market position as a coeducational boarding and day school is supported by its broad geographic draw of students, including 18% of students from abroad, and healthy growth of net tuition per student, which increased 12% over the last 5 years.

*The school's expendable financial resources of $93.9 million provided healthy coverage of debt and operations at 2.85 and 3.40 times, respectively, as of FY 2013.

*The Hill's donor support has strengthened in recent years through expanded advancement staff and renewed focus on philanthropic culture among students and alumni. Average gifts per student of $17,283 in FY 2013 are nearly double the FY 2012 median for A rated peers of $9,427.

*Monthly liquidity of $46.1 million in FY 2013 provided ample coverage of operations, with 1.8 years of cash on hand.

CHALLENGES

*The school's balance sheet growth since the recession is slightly below A rated peers with total cash and investments of $138.3 million in FY 2013 was still below pre-recession levels.

*Moderately high operating leverage, as measured by debt to operating revenues of 1.17 times in FY 2013. We expect operating leverage to remain at current levels given the school's modest revenue growth projections and no anticipated borrowing needs for the next five years.

*The school's enrollment of 504 students has limited growth given current capacity constraints and leaves it vulnerable to modest volatility in enrollment or expenses.

OUTLOOK

The stable outlook reflects the Hill's strong student demand and our expectation that the school will continue to grow net tuition revenue and benefit from ongoing donor support. The outlook is also predicated on the school's plan to maintain debt at current levels.

WHAT COULD MAKE THE RATING GO UP

An upgrade could result from substantial growth in operating revenue through strengthened fundraising and healthy growth of net tuition revenue, resulting in a reduction of operating leverage, strengthened market position, as well as sizeable growth of financial resources.

WHAT COULD MAKE THE RATING GO DOWN

A downgrade could result from deterioration in operating performance, student demand combined with a material decline in financial resource coverage of debt and operations.

The principal methodology used in this rating was US Independent Schools Methodology published in February 2013. Please see the Credit Policy 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 rating action on the support provider and in relation to each particular 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.

Michael Gusta
Associate Analyst
Public Finance Group
Moody's Investors Service, Inc.
250 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10007
U.S.A.
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

Karen L Kedem
Vice President - Senior Analyst
Public Finance Group
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

Moody's affirms Hill School's (PA) A1; outlook stable
No Related Data.
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