Organization has $193.4 million of rated debt
New York, December 02, 2012 -- Moody's Investors Service has affirmed Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center's (FHCRC's or the center's) (WA) A2 rating on issuer rating and Revenue Bonds, Series 2009A and 2011A issued through the Washington Health Care Facilities Authority. The rating outlook is revised to stable from negative.
SUMMARY RATING RATIONALE
The A2 rating and the revision to the stable outlook reflects the center's national position as a leading cancer research institute with a large and growing research enterprise and operational oversight and expense flexibility producing adequate cash flow and debt service coverage. Credit challenges are high balance sheet leverage, revenue reliance on federal research funding that is facing possible reduction due to federal budget pressures, moderate liquidity within the investments and a debt structure that, although improved, is comprised of 47% variable rate demand debt, with its debt requiring covenant compliance. The stable outlook reflects the debt restructuring that relieves liquidity demands, as well as operational flexibility to address possible reductions in federal research funding and expectations of continued positive operating cash flow generation for adequate debt service.
*Nationally prominent research institute as one of the original seven National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated comprehensive cancer centers, with research conducted through its own facilities and through strategic alliances with University of Washington (rated Aaa, stable), Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (rated A2, stable) and Seattle Children's Hospital (Aa3, positive) and continued success in recruiting researchers.
*Restructuring of variable rate debt to bonds with optional tender features, eliminating the need for bank letter of credit facilities and reducing the possibility of immediate demands on unrestricted liquidity due to failed debt remarketing.
*Flexible expense base and contingency plans in place to address possible reductions in federal research funding due to sequestration or other budget shortfalls
*Consistent generation of positive operating cash flow, with a 8.1% operating cash flow margin in FY 2012 providing 1.89 times annual debt service coverage for the year, as calculated by Moody's. Further, the center has operational flexibility with approved contingency plans to address possible reductions in federal research funding and low fixed expense structure.
*Most of the center's funding for federal research activities occurs under a federal letter of credit providing full, quick reimbursement of direct and indirect research costs, including debt service.
*Consistently favorable fundraising, with three-year average gift revenues of $26.9 million for FY 2010-FY 2012, including permanently restricted gifts to build endowment. This should continue as the center has hired a new director of development and launched its "Be Breakthrough" campaign.
*Very high balance sheet and operating leverage with $370 million of total debt, and debt-to-revenues of 0.86 times and expendable resources cushioning debt only 0.21 times, representing thin coverage.
*Modest liquidity relative to other research institutions and not-for-profit organizations with $104.6 million of monthly liquidity or 93 monthly days cash, as measured by Moody's,. This is partially mitigated with FHCRC's ability to draw on a federal letter of credit reimbursement for all direct costs and related indirect costs, including debt service, for federally sponsored research.
*High revenue reliance on federal research funding (U.S. government rating of Aaa, negative outlook), with 81% of the research funding is derived from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), exposing FHCRC to funding volatility if federal funding is reduced by sequestration or from other budget reductions.
*Substantial exposure to variable rate debt at 48% of total debt, with required covenants and swaps with collateral posting requirements, and monthly liquidity to demand debt of only 61%, although all of the debt is long-mode with optional tenders.
The stable outlook reflects the expectations of continued operating cash flow generation sufficient to provide adequate debt service coverage, stable balance sheet resource and liquidity levels and successful expense management in response to any reductions in federal funding that may arise from sequestration or other budget cuts.
WHAT COULD MAKE THE RATING GO UP
Substantial growth in balance sheet resources and liquidity and an increase in the cushion relative to debt and operations; significant increase in fundraising success and resulting balance sheet strengthening.
WHAT COULD MAKE THE RATING GO DOWN
Downgrade of the U.S. government rating; sustained lower grant awards coupled with failure to adjust expenses for the revenue loss; decline in financial resources or liquidity; additional debt issuance.
The rating was assigned by evaluating factors believed to be relevant to the credit profile of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, such as i) the business risk and competitive position of the issuer versus others within its industry or sector, ii) the capital structure and financial risk of the issuer, iii) the projected performance of the issuer over the near to intermediate term, iv) the issuer's history of achieving consistent operating performance and meeting budget or financial plan goals, v) the nature of the dedicated revenue stream pledged to the bonds, vi) the debt service coverage provided by such revenue stream, vii) the legal structure that documents the revenue stream and the source of payment, and viii) and the issuer's management and governance structure related to payment. These attributes were compared against other issuers both within and outside of the Center's core peer group and the rating is believed to be comparable to ratings assigned to other issuers of similar credit risk.
The Global Scale Credit Ratings on this press release that are issued by one of Moody's affiliates outside the EU are endorsed by Moody's Investors Service Ltd., One Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E 14 5FA, UK, in accordance with Art.4 paragraph 3 of the Regulation (EC) No 1060/2009 on Credit Rating Agencies. Further information on the EU endorsement status and on the Moody's office that has issued a particular Credit Rating is available on www.moodys.com.
For ratings issued on a program, series or category/class of debt, this announcement provides relevant 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 relevant 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 relevant 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.
Information sources used to prepare the rating are the following: parties involved in the ratings, parties not involved in the ratings, public information, and confidential and proprietary Moody's Investors Service information.
Moody's considers the quality of information available on the rated entity, obligation or credit satisfactory for the purposes of issuing a rating.
Moody's adopts all necessary measures so that the information it uses in assigning a 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.
Please see Moody's Rating Symbols and Definitions on the Rating Process page on www.moodys.com for further information on the meaning of each rating category and the definition of default and recovery.
Please see ratings tab on the issuer/entity page on www.moodys.com for the last rating action and the rating history. The date on which some ratings were first released goes back to a time before Moody's ratings were fully digitized and accurate data may not be available. Consequently, Moody's provides a date that it believes is the most reliable and accurate based on the information that is available to it. Please see the ratings disclosure page on our website www.moodys.com for further information.
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.
Diane F. Viacava VP - Senior Credit Officer Public Finance Group Moody'sInvestors Service, Inc.250 Greenwich StreetNew York, NY 10007 U.S.A. JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376 SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653Mary CooneyAsst Vice President - Analyst Public Finance Group JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376 SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653 Releasing Office: Moody's Investors Service, Inc.250 Greenwich StreetNew York, NY 10007 U.S.A. JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376 SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653(C) 2012 Moody's Investors Service, Inc. and/or its licensors and affiliates (collectively, "MOODY'S"). All rights reserved.
CREDIT RATINGS ISSUED BY MOODY'S INVESTORS SERVICE, INC. ("MIS") AND ITS AFFILIATES ARE MOODY'S CURRENT OPINIONS OF THE RELATIVE FUTURE CREDIT RISK OF ENTITIES, CREDIT COMMITMENTS, OR DEBT OR DEBT-LIKE SECURITIES, AND CREDIT RATINGS AND RESEARCH PUBLICATIONS PUBLISHED BY MOODY'S ("MOODY'S PUBLICATIONS") MAY INCLUDE MOODY'S CURRENT OPINIONS OF THE RELATIVE FUTURE CREDIT RISK OF ENTITIES, CREDIT COMMITMENTS, OR DEBT OR DEBT-LIKE SECURITIES. 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. CREDIT RATINGS DO NOT ADDRESS ANY OTHER RISK, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO: LIQUIDITY RISK, MARKET VALUE RISK, OR PRICE VOLATILITY. CREDIT RATINGS AND MOODY'S OPINIONS INCLUDED IN MOODY'S PUBLICATIONS ARE NOT STATEMENTS OF CURRENT OR HISTORICAL FACT. CREDIT RATINGS AND MOODY'S PUBLICATIONS DO NOT CONSTITUTE OR PROVIDE INVESTMENT OR FINANCIAL ADVICE, AND CREDIT RATINGS AND MOODY'S PUBLICATIONS ARE NOT AND DO NOT PROVIDE RECOMMENDATIONS TO PURCHASE, SELL, OR HOLD PARTICULAR SECURITIES. NEITHER CREDIT RATINGS NOR MOODY'S PUBLICATIONS COMMENT ON THE SUITABILITY OF AN INVESTMENT FOR ANY PARTICULAR INVESTOR. MOODY'S ISSUES ITS CREDIT RATINGS AND PUBLISHES MOODY'S PUBLICATIONS WITH THE EXPECTATION AND UNDERSTANDING THAT EACH INVESTOR WILL MAKE ITS OWN STUDY AND EVALUATION OF EACH SECURITY THAT IS UNDER CONSIDERATION FOR PURCHASE, HOLDING, OR SALE.
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.
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. Under no circumstances shall MOODY'S have any liability to any person or entity for (a) any loss or damage in whole or in part caused by, resulting from, or relating to, any error negligent or otherwise or other circumstance or contingency within or outside the control of MOODY'S or any of its directors, officers, employees or agents in connection with the procurement, collection, compilation, analysis, interpretation, communication, publication or delivery of any such information, or (b) any direct, indirect, special, consequential, compensatory or incidental damages whatsoever (including without limitation, lost profits), even if MOODY'S is advised in advance of the possibility of such damages, resulting from the use of or inability to use, any such information. The ratings, financial reporting analysis, projections, and other observations, if any, constituting part of the information contained herein are, and must be construed solely as, statements of opinion and not statements of fact or recommendations to purchase, sell or hold any securities. Each user of the information contained herein must make its own study and evaluation of each security it may consider purchasing, holding or selling.
NO WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, AS TO THE ACCURACY, TIMELINESS, COMPLETENESS, MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR ANY PARTICULAR PURPOSE OF ANY SUCH RATING OR OTHER OPINION OR INFORMATION IS GIVEN OR MADE BY MOODY'S IN ANY FORM OR MANNER WHATSOEVER.
MIS, 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 MIS have, prior to assignment of any rating, agreed to pay to MIS for appraisal and rating services rendered by it fees ranging from $1,500 to approximately $2,500,000. MCO and MIS also maintain policies and procedures to address the independence of MIS's ratings and rating processes. Information regarding certain affiliations that may exist between directors of MCO and rated entities, and between entities who hold ratings from MIS 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 "Shareholder Relations -- Corporate Governance -- Director and Shareholder Affiliation Policy."
Any publication into Australia of this document is by MOODY'S affiliate, Moody's Investors Service Pty Limited ABN 61 003 399 657, which holds Australian Financial Services License no. 336969. 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.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, credit ratings assigned on and after October 1, 2010 by Moody's Japan K.K. ("MJKK") are MJKK's current opinions of the relative future credit risk of entities, credit commitments, or debt or debt-like securities. In such a case, "MIS" in the foregoing statements shall be deemed to be replaced with "MJKK". 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.
This credit rating is an opinion as to the creditworthiness or 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. It would be dangerous for retail investors to make any investment decision based on this credit rating. If in doubt you should contact your financial or other professional adviser.