HONOLULU — Fitch Ratings has affirmed the Hawaii Harbor System’s revenue bond rating at an “A+” grade, citing a stable future outlook.
The ratings affirmation was based on Fitch’s positive analysis of the harbor system’s scheduled tariff increases for cruise, cargo and pipelines; the progress of its capital improvements plan; and the strength of its overall financial profile.
“This rating is a vote of confidence in our harbor system and our state’s economic stability,” Gov. Neil Abercrombie said. “Hawaii heavily relies on its harbors, importing approximately 80 percent of consumable goods – and 98 percent of that through the Harbors System. Our modernization plans will continue to increase efficiency into the future.”
Under the state Department of Transportation, the Harbors System operates 10 commercial harbors on six islands.
In issuing the upgrade, Fitch identified the following as positives of the harbors system:
- Strong Financial Profile: Stable operating margins with a sizable liquidity cushion with unrestricted liquidity.
- Natural Monopoly: The port system provides essential maritime services and serves a state without an efficient alternative means of transporting goods to and throughout it.
- Approved Tariff Increases: The harbor system has adopted scheduled tariff increases for cruise, cargo, and pipelines, with escalations underway since 2010 and scheduled to continue through 2015.
- Considerable Capital Plan: Sizable and evolving capital improvements, currently at $618 million, are progressing on schedule.
- Conservative Debt Structure: Relatively low leverage consisting of all fixed rate bonds with rapid amortization schedule on existing debt.
“Our Harbors Division has done a great deal of planning and collaboration with harbor users to ensure that our modernization plan provides a stable future outlook,” said state Transportation Director Glenn Okimoto. “Much of the credit for this successful bond rating goes to our strong Harbors Division management overseeing our financial plans.”
For more information or for a copy of the ratings report, visit the Fitch Ratings website at www.fitchratings.com.