Fitch: US Ports Pose Low Risk Despite Volume Swings

Stand-alone U.S. port ratings remain largely in the ‘A’ category despite volume fluctuations during economic downturns, according to a new Fitch Ratings report.

Emma Griffith, Director in Fitch’s Global Infrastructure Group, said that around 95% of port sector ratings were given Stable Outlooks, implying ”the relatively low credit risk and the resilience of port cash flows.” 

Fitch upgraded the rating on two ports during the past 12 months (Virginia Port Authority to ‘A+’ and Alabama State Port Authority to ‘A-‘) as well as revised the Rating Outlook on one port to Positive (Hillsborough County Port District).

Highest rated ports are typically those with a strong underlying market or franchise driving demand, overall stability of cash flows through contractual agreements, or tariff policy and healthy financial metrics, according to Fitch Ratings.

Conversely, weakest rated ports include those serving markets with competition for cargo, less contractual protection for revenues, or thinner financial metrics.

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