Virginia Port Authority receives stable bond rating

Mood’s Investors Service and Standard & Poor’s, two international bond-rating agencies, this week rated the Virginia Port Authority facilities revenue bonds “stable.”

Moody’s on Wednesday gave the authority an Aa3 bond rating while Standard & Poor’s gave it an A+ rating.

In a news release from the authority, Moody’s cited the authority’s 55 feet shipping lines, coast location, proximity to inland markets and distribution centers and contracts with shipping lines as the reason for the rating.

Authority spokesman Joe Harris said the bond ratings are reflective of the authority’s increased focus on shipping efficiency.

“They look at your ability to grow and make money, how you plan to pay these bonds off, how you plan to grow your business and that all goes to the health of the organization,” Harris said. “Our efficiency is a huge part of that.”

The bond ratings for the authority indicate performance that is measured a little differently than that of a municipality, Harris said.

“We are different than a local government in that their bonds are dependent on tax revenue and economic development,” Harris said. “Ours is dependent on a revenue stream based on how many containers we can process on an annual basis and our ability to grow that.”

Harris added, “Given the economy, the world market and the fact that as a nation, we import most of what we consume, this is a pretty healthy industry and we’d like to take a part of that.”

The bond rating is also an indicator that the authority is finally seeing the effects of the recession weather away, Harris said.

“For awhile there when the economy was sucking wind, our rating was brought down to stable with concerns, so it’s good to see it back up where it should be, and I think that’s an indicator of things to come,” Harris said.

The Virginia Port Authority operates four general cargo facilities at the Norfolk International Terminals, Portsmouth Marine Terminal, Newport News Marine Terminal and the Virginia Inland Port in Warren County.

Contact staff writer Henry Culvyhouse at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or hculvyhouse@nvdaily.com