U.S. markets close in 4 hours 24 minutes
  • S&P 500

    3,867.60
    -2.69 (-0.07%)
     
  • Dow 30

    31,536.15
    +144.63 (+0.46%)
     
  • Nasdaq

    13,276.75
    -82.03 (-0.61%)
     
  • Russell 2000

    2,246.14
    +14.63 (+0.66%)
     
  • Crude Oil

    61.33
    +1.58 (+2.64%)
     
  • Gold

    1,723.60
    -10.00 (-0.58%)
     
  • Silver

    26.50
    -0.38 (-1.43%)
     
  • EUR/USD

    1.2083
    -0.0004 (-0.04%)
     
  • 10-Yr Bond

    1.4830
    +0.0680 (+4.81%)
     
  • GBP/USD

    1.3989
    +0.0032 (+0.23%)
     
  • USD/JPY

    106.8710
    +0.1610 (+0.15%)
     
  • BTC-USD

    51,370.45
    +2,672.26 (+5.49%)
     
  • CMC Crypto 200

    1,027.29
    +39.20 (+3.97%)
     
  • FTSE 100

    6,661.10
    +47.35 (+0.72%)
     
  • Nikkei 225

    29,559.10
    +150.93 (+0.51%)
     

Massachusetts Development Finance Agency -- Moody's assigns Baa1 to Wheaton College, MA's Series I (2021) bonds; outlook negative

·12 min read

Rating Action: Moody's assigns Baa1 to Wheaton College, MA's Series I (2021) bonds; outlook negative

Global Credit Research - 20 Jan 2021

New York, January 20, 2021 -- Moody's Investors Service has assigned a Baa1 rating to Wheaton College, MA's proposed up to $42 million of Revenue Bonds, Wheaton College Issue, Series I (2021) (Federally Taxable). The bonds will be issued through the Massachusetts Development Finance Agency and have an expected final maturity of 2051. We also maintain Baa1 ratings on approximately $52 million of outstanding Series H (2017) bonds. The outlook is negative.

RATINGS RATIONALE

The assignment of Baa1 rating is based on college's healthy flexible reserves and liquidity, good donor support, and manageable debt burden. The college's total cash and investments of $231 million at fiscal yearend 2020 provides it with some ability to address near term market and financial challenges. Liquidity remains favorable with over 290 monthly days cash on hand in fiscal 2020. Offsetting challenges include high reliance on student charges in a highly competitive market with many competitors offering similar programs, including lower cost public institutions. The college's student demand and pricing power were challenged before the pandemic, reflected in pressured net tuition and net tuition per FTE revenue, leading to weakening operating performance. Student market pressures have been heightened by the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic and operating margins will weaken in fiscal 2021, driven by a 6% decline in fall 2020 enrollment combined with an increasing aggregate tuition discount rate. The college plans to reduce expenses in fiscal 2021 to compensate for the revenue decline but will likely use some of its reserves to balance the budget, which will reduce its financial flexibility.

We regard the coronavirus outbreak as a social risk under our ESG framework given the substantial implications for public health and safety. In fiscal 2020, Wheaton College experienced a decline in auxiliary revenues from housing and dining operations as the pandemic compounds demographic challenges. Revenue losses were only partially offset by expense reductions. Classes are being held on campus for the 2020-2021 academic year, with some recovery of auxiliary revenue.

RATING OUTLOOK

The negative outlook reflects the potential for credit deterioration if weaker financial performance and enrollment pressure extend beyond fiscal 2021, reflecting more fundamental student demand and financial challenges outside of the pandemic.

FACTORS THAT COULD LEAD TO AN UPGRADE OF THE RATING

-Sustained increase in enrollment with corresponding material growth in net tuition and auxiliary revenue

-Significant improvement in operating margins with debt service coverage consistently over 2x

FACTORS THAT COULD LEAD TO A DOWNGRADE OF THE RATING

-Weakened operating performance beyond fiscal 2021

-Significant decline in unrestricted reserves and liquidity

-Sustained declines in net tuition and auxiliary revenue

LEGAL SECURITY

Bonds are unsecured general obligations of the college. The Series I and Series H bonds do not have any financial covenants.

USE OF PROCEEDS

Proceeds will be used to finance the renovation of an academic building, refinance a portion of Series H Bonds, and pay the cost of issuance.

PROFILE

Wheaton College is a four-year, private liberal arts college in Norton, Massachusetts, between Boston, Massachusetts, and Providence, Rhode Island. The college enrolls about 1,700 FTE students and generated $74 million in operating revenue in fiscal 2020..

METHODOLOGY

The principal methodology used in this rating was Higher Education published in May 2019 and available at https://www.moodys.com/researchdocumentcontentpage.aspx?docid=PBM_1175020. Alternatively, please see the Rating Methodologies page on www.moodys.com for a copy of this methodology.

REGULATORY DISCLOSURES

For further specification of Moody's key rating assumptions and sensitivity analysis, see the sections Methodology Assumptions and Sensitivity to Assumptions in the disclosure form. Moody's Rating Symbols and Definitions can be found at: https://www.moodys.com/researchdocumentcontentpage.aspx?docid=PBC_79004.

For ratings issued on a program, series, category/class of debt or security this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to each rating of a subsequently issued bond or note of the same series, category/class of debt, security 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.

Moody's general principles for assessing environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks in our credit analysis can be found at https://www.moodys.com/researchdocumentcontentpage.aspx?docid=PBC_1243406.

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.

Pranav Sharma Lead Analyst Higher Education Moody's Investors Service, Inc. 7 World Trade Center 250 Greenwich Street New York 10007 US JOURNALISTS: 1 212 553 0376 Client Service: 1 212 553 1653 Dennis Gephardt Additional Contact Higher Education JOURNALISTS: 1 212 553 0376 Client Service: 1 212 553 1653 Releasing Office: Moody's Investors Service, Inc. 250 Greenwich Street New York, NY 10007 U.S.A JOURNALISTS: 1 212 553 0376 Client Service: 1 212 553 1653

© 2021 Moody’s Corporation, Moody’s Investors Service, Inc., Moody’s Analytics, Inc. and/or their licensors and affiliates (collectively, “MOODY’S”). All rights reserved.

CREDIT RATINGS ISSUED BY MOODY'S CREDIT RATINGS AFFILIATES ARE THEIR CURRENT OPINIONS OF THE RELATIVE FUTURE CREDIT RISK OF ENTITIES, CREDIT COMMITMENTS, OR DEBT OR DEBT-LIKE SECURITIES, AND MATERIALS, PRODUCTS, SERVICES AND INFORMATION PUBLISHED BY MOODY’S (COLLECTIVELY, “PUBLICATIONS”) MAY INCLUDE SUCH CURRENT OPINIONS. MOODY’S DEFINES CREDIT RISK AS THE RISK THAT AN ENTITY MAY NOT MEET ITS CONTRACTUAL FINANCIAL OBLIGATIONS AS THEY COME DUE AND ANY ESTIMATED FINANCIAL LOSS IN THE EVENT OF DEFAULT OR IMPAIRMENT. SEE APPLICABLE MOODY’S RATING SYMBOLS AND DEFINITIONS PUBLICATION FOR INFORMATION ON THE TYPES OF CONTRACTUAL FINANCIAL OBLIGATIONS ADDRESSED BY MOODY’S CREDIT RATINGS. CREDIT RATINGS DO NOT ADDRESS ANY OTHER RISK, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO: LIQUIDITY RISK, MARKET VALUE RISK, OR PRICE VOLATILITY. CREDIT RATINGS, NON-CREDIT ASSESSMENTS (“ASSESSMENTS”), AND OTHER OPINIONS INCLUDED IN MOODY’S PUBLICATIONS ARE NOT STATEMENTS OF CURRENT OR HISTORICAL FACT. MOODY’S PUBLICATIONS MAY ALSO INCLUDE QUANTITATIVE MODEL-BASED ESTIMATES OF CREDIT RISK AND RELATED OPINIONS OR COMMENTARY PUBLISHED BY MOODY’S ANALYTICS, INC. AND/OR ITS AFFILIATES. MOODY’S CREDIT RATINGS, ASSESSMENTS, OTHER OPINIONS AND PUBLICATIONS DO NOT CONSTITUTE OR PROVIDE INVESTMENT OR FINANCIAL ADVICE, AND MOODY’S CREDIT RATINGS, ASSESSMENTS, OTHER OPINIONS AND PUBLICATIONS ARE NOT AND DO NOT PROVIDE RECOMMENDATIONS TO PURCHASE, SELL, OR HOLD PARTICULAR SECURITIES. MOODY’S CREDIT RATINGS, ASSESSMENTS, OTHER OPINIONS AND PUBLICATIONS DO NOT COMMENT ON THE SUITABILITY OF AN INVESTMENT FOR ANY PARTICULAR INVESTOR. MOODY’S ISSUES ITS CREDIT RATINGS, ASSESSMENTS AND OTHER OPINIONS AND PUBLISHES ITS PUBLICATIONS WITH THE EXPECTATION AND UNDERSTANDING THAT EACH INVESTOR WILL, WITH DUE CARE, MAKE ITS OWN STUDY AND EVALUATION OF EACH SECURITY THAT IS UNDER CONSIDERATION FOR PURCHASE, HOLDING, OR SALE.

MOODY’S CREDIT RATINGS, ASSESSMENTS, OTHER OPINIONS, AND PUBLICATIONS ARE NOT INTENDED FOR USE BY RETAIL INVESTORS AND IT WOULD BE RECKLESS AND INAPPROPRIATE FOR RETAIL INVESTORS TO USE MOODY’S CREDIT RATINGS, ASSESSMENTS, OTHER OPINIONS OR PUBLICATIONS WHEN MAKING AN INVESTMENT DECISION. IF IN DOUBT YOU SHOULD CONTACT YOUR FINANCIAL OR OTHER PROFESSIONAL ADVISER.

ALL INFORMATION CONTAINED HEREIN IS PROTECTED BY LAW, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO, COPYRIGHT LAW, AND NONE OF SUCH INFORMATION MAY BE COPIED OR OTHERWISE REPRODUCED, REPACKAGED, FURTHER TRANSMITTED, TRANSFERRED, DISSEMINATED, REDISTRIBUTED OR RESOLD, OR STORED FOR SUBSEQUENT USE FOR ANY SUCH PURPOSE, IN WHOLE OR IN PART, IN ANY FORM OR MANNER OR BY ANY MEANS WHATSOEVER, BY ANY PERSON WITHOUT MOODY’S PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT.

MOODY’S CREDIT RATINGS, ASSESSMENTS, OTHER OPINIONS AND PUBLICATIONS ARE NOT INTENDED FOR USE BY ANY PERSON AS A BENCHMARK AS THAT TERM IS DEFINED FOR REGULATORY PURPOSES AND MUST NOT BE USED IN ANY WAY THAT COULD RESULT IN THEM BEING CONSIDERED A BENCHMARK.

All information contained herein is obtained by MOODY’S from sources believed by it to be accurate and reliable. Because of the possibility of human or mechanical error as well as other factors, however, all information contained herein is provided “AS IS” without warranty of any kind. MOODY'S adopts all necessary measures so that the information it uses in assigning a credit rating is of sufficient quality and from sources MOODY'S considers to be reliable including, when appropriate, independent third-party sources. However, MOODY’S is not an auditor and cannot in every instance independently verify or validate information received in the rating process or in preparing its Publications.

To the extent permitted by law, MOODY’S and its directors, officers, employees, agents, representatives, licensors and suppliers disclaim liability to any person or entity for any indirect, special, consequential, or incidental losses or damages whatsoever arising from or in connection with the information contained herein or the use of or inability to use any such information, even if MOODY’S or any of its directors, officers, employees, agents, representatives, licensors or suppliers is advised in advance of the possibility of such losses or damages, including but not limited to: (a) any loss of present or prospective profits or (b) any loss or damage arising where the relevant financial instrument is not the subject of a particular credit rating assigned by MOODY’S.

To the extent permitted by law, MOODY’S and its directors, officers, employees, agents, representatives, licensors and suppliers disclaim liability for any direct or compensatory losses or damages caused to any person or entity, including but not limited to by any negligence (but excluding fraud, willful misconduct or any other type of liability that, for the avoidance of doubt, by law cannot be excluded) on the part of, or any contingency within or beyond the control of, MOODY’S or any of its directors, officers, employees, agents, representatives, licensors or suppliers, arising from or in connection with the information contained herein or the use of or inability to use any such information.

NO WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, AS TO THE ACCURACY, TIMELINESS, COMPLETENESS, MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR ANY PARTICULAR PURPOSE OF ANY CREDIT RATING, ASSESSMENT, OTHER OPINION OR INFORMATION IS GIVEN OR MADE BY MOODY’S IN ANY FORM OR MANNER WHATSOEVER.

Moody’s Investors Service, Inc., a wholly-owned credit rating agency subsidiary of Moody’s Corporation (“MCO”), hereby discloses that most issuers of debt securities (including corporate and municipal bonds, debentures, notes and commercial paper) and preferred stock rated by Moody’s Investors Service, Inc. have, prior to assignment of any credit rating, agreed to pay to Moody’s Investors Service, Inc. for credit ratings opinions and services rendered by it fees ranging from $1,000 to approximately $5,000,000. MCO and Moody’s Investors Service also maintain policies and procedures to address the independence of Moody’s Investors Service credit ratings and credit rating processes. Information regarding certain affiliations that may exist between directors of MCO and rated entities, and between entities who hold credit ratings from Moody’s Investors Service and have also publicly reported to the SEC an ownership interest in MCO of more than 5%, is posted annually at www.moodys.com under the heading “Investor Relations — Corporate Governance — Director and Shareholder Affiliation Policy.”

Additional terms for Australia only: Any publication into Australia of this document is pursuant to the Australian Financial Services License of MOODY’S affiliate, Moody’s Investors Service Pty Limited ABN 61 003 399 657AFSL 336969 and/or Moody’s Analytics Australia Pty Ltd ABN 94 105 136 972 AFSL 383569 (as applicable). This document is intended to be provided only to “wholesale clients” within the meaning of section 761G of the Corporations Act 2001. By continuing to access this document from within Australia, you represent to MOODY’S that you are, or are accessing the document as a representative of, a “wholesale client” and that neither you nor the entity you represent will directly or indirectly disseminate this document or its contents to “retail clients” within the meaning of section 761G of the Corporations Act 2001. MOODY’S credit rating is an opinion as to the creditworthiness of a debt obligation of the issuer, not on the equity securities of the issuer or any form of security that is available to retail investors.

Additional terms for Japan only: Moody's Japan K.K. (“MJKK”) is a wholly-owned credit rating agency subsidiary of Moody's Group Japan G.K., which is wholly-owned by Moody’s Overseas Holdings Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of MCO. Moody’s SF Japan K.K. (“MSFJ”) is a wholly-owned credit rating agency subsidiary of MJKK. MSFJ is not a Nationally Recognized Statistical Rating Organization (“NRSRO”). Therefore, credit ratings assigned by MSFJ are Non-NRSRO Credit Ratings. Non-NRSRO Credit Ratings are assigned by an entity that is not a NRSRO and, consequently, the rated obligation will not qualify for certain types of treatment under U.S. laws. MJKK and MSFJ are credit rating agencies registered with the Japan Financial Services Agency and their registration numbers are FSA Commissioner (Ratings) No. 2 and 3 respectively.

MJKK or MSFJ (as applicable) hereby disclose that most issuers of debt securities (including corporate and municipal bonds, debentures, notes and commercial paper) and preferred stock rated by MJKK or MSFJ (as applicable) have, prior to assignment of any credit rating, agreed to pay to MJKK or MSFJ (as applicable) for credit ratings opinions and services rendered by it fees ranging from JPY125,000 to approximately JPY550,000,000.

MJKK and MSFJ also maintain policies and procedures to address Japanese regulatory requirements.