August 1, 2012
From: Laura Woodard Clark
Director of Media Relations
Moody's Investors Service affirms ULM's strong credit rating
Despite facing unprecedented financial challenges, the University of Louisiana at Monroe maintains a strong credit standing, according to Moody’s Investors Service.
Bill Graves, Ph.D., Chief Business Officer at ULM, led a standard review of ULM’s financial standing with Moody’s Investors Service last week.
The last review was conducted in 2009. Today, Moody’s released the report, which indicates ULM’s outlook is “stable.”
Graves said, “This report is a positive sign for the university. Despite the state budget cuts we have received lately, Moody’s affirms we are financially stable. The A2 rating indicates a low credit risk regarding the ability of the entity to meet financial obligations. The report highlights ULM’s improved operating performance in FY 2011 and its healthy overall financial position.”
ULM President Dr. Nick J. Bruno said, "Moody's positive review speaks volumes about our efficient operations at ULM. I applaud the efforts of our university staff in making this possible."
According to the report, ULM’s rating reflects various strengths:
- The university had better operating performance in FY 2011 than in prior years, with Moody's adjusted operating margin of 1.3 percent (compared to a prior three year average operating margin of negative 8.5 percent) and operating cash flow margin of 14.5 percent.
- Improved, although still limited, financial resources with expendable financial resources of $19.3 million (not adjusting for Other Post Employment Benefit, OPEB liability of $38.8 million) cushioning direct debt of $70.3 million, 0.27 times in FY 2011 up from 0.17 times in FY 2010.
- No additional near term borrowing plans and management intends to convert to fixed rate debt the entire portion of variable rate debt at the university ($65.4 million) in conjunction with the expiration of the university's swap agreement with Regions Bank in November 2012.
Also according to the report, ULM’s rating acknowledges various challenges:
- The university faced a mid-year reduction in state appropriations of almost $3 million in FY 2012 and expects higher reductions (possibly in excess of $5 million) in FY 2013.
- Following two successive years of enrollment declines, fall 2011 headcount enrollment of 8,595 students fell short of the budgeted headcount of 8,801, although preliminary fall 2012 (FY 2013) numbers indicate healthier student demand.
- The university has a high age of plant of 14.9 years (as calculated by Moody's) indicating likelihood of future capital needs and limited ability to compete on the basis of facilities for students considering multiple universities.
- Substantial exposure to bank demand debt offset by plans to convert the debt to fixed rate later in calendar year 2012.