NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Fitch Ratings has affirmed its 'F1+' rating on the following debt issued by the Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia (UVA):
--$78.6 million of outstanding series 2003A multi-modal general revenue pledge bonds;
--$300 million taxable and tax-exempt commercial paper (CP) program.
The revenue bonds and CP are unsecured general obligations of UVA, payable from all legally available funds.
KEY RATING DRIVERS
FINANCIAL STRENGTH OF UVA: The university maintains a strong financial profile fueled by a diverse revenue base; substantial balance sheet resources; robust fundraising; and manageable debt burden. Fitch maintains a long-term 'AAA' rating on UVA's general revenue pledge bonds.
SUFFICIENT LIQUID RESOURCES: UVA has the ability to cover the maximum potential liquidity demands presented by its variable rate debt programs by over 3x from internal resources. Such resources include cash; highly liquid, highly rated investments; and dedicated liquidity facilities.
FINANCIAL DETERIORATION: Erosion to UVA's internal liquid resource base or to its general credit profile to the point where the university could no longer sufficiently cover its variable-rate obligations, while highly unlikely, would put downward pressure on the rating.
Chartered in 1819, UVA is a highly selective, comprehensive public university located in Charlottesville, Virginia. The university's fall 2014 undergraduate acceptance rate was 29%, with a solid 41% of accepted students choosing to enroll. UVA's prestigious graduate programs, including the Darden School of Business and the School of Law maintain equal or higher admissions selectivity. Fall 2014 full-time equivalent enrollment totaled 21,762 students, up just less than 2% from the prior year.
UVA's strong financial profile is characterized by consistently positive operations that are funded by a diverse operating budget; substantial balance sheet resources, with exceptional management of the long-term investment pool provided by University of Virginia Investment Management Company; impressive philanthropic activities, including a recently concluded $3 billion fundraising campaign; and a manageable debt burden. UVA also benefits from the strong competitive and financial position of the University of Virginia Medical Center, a fully integrated division of the university which provides nearly half of total operating revenues.
LIQUID RESOURCES SUPPORT SHORT-TERM DEBT
The 'F1+' rating is based on the availability of highly liquid, highly rated securities to cover potential maximum liquidity demands presented by UVA's outstanding multi-modal general revenue pledge bonds and CP notes. To supplement internal liquidity sources, UVA maintains the ability to draw on three dedicated lines of credit in the aggregate amount of $200 million. Of the university's substantial cash and investments, approximately $1.24 billion, including cash and cash equivalents, and U.S. government and agencies securities (after discounts based on maturity per Fitch's short-term rating criteria) was available on Dec. 31, 2014.
On a combined basis, UVA's liquid assets totaled $1.44 billion and covered its liquidity needs of $378.6 million by a healthy 3.8x. This includes $78.6 million of outstanding multi-modal revenue bonds and its maximum CP authorization of $300 million ($250 million currently outstanding). For an 'F1+' rating, Fitch typically expects coverage of at least 1.25x. To limit potential demands on its liquidity, UVA limits the amount of CP notes that can come due on a given day to $40 million. The university's detailed procedures for handling a failed remarketing of multi-modal bonds and/or rollover of CP are regularly reviewed, reflecting favorably on management.
UVA plans to propose a $330 million financing to its board of visitors for authorization in mid-February to refinance various series of general revenue pledge bonds and outstanding CP notes. Fitch will perform a full credit review of the university closer to the proposed sale date.
Additional information is available at 'www.fitchratings.com'.
Applicable Criteria and Related Research:
--'Rating U.S. Public Finance Short-Term Debt' (Jan. 7, 2015);
--'Fitch Affirms University of Virginia's Short-Term Rating at F1+' (Feb. 20, 2014);
--'Fitch Rates University of Virginia's Series 2013 Rev Bonds 'AAA'; Outlook Stable' (March 5, 2013).
Applicable Criteria and Related Research:
Rating U.S. Public Finance Short-Term Debt