Ports & Terminals

S&P Global Lifts Port Of New Orleans Credit Rating To ‘A’

S&P Global Ratings recently raised the Port of New Orleans’ credit rating from “A-” to “A,” calling the port’s outlook “stable.”

In announcing the rating change, Port NOLA President and CEO Brandy Christian praised the efforts of the port’s commissioners, as well as the entire organization, to both manage debt and grow business opportunities.

“This favorable rating from S&P reflects an ongoing commitment to fiscal stewardship and building strength through diversity of our business lines,” Christian said. “We serve as one of the region’s most important economic engines. This performance rating improvement validates our certainty that we as a public agency are on the right course.”

In its report, S&P Global Ratings attributed the improved rating and positive outlook to “the port’s multimodal capabilities with access to six Class 1 railroads (two northbound, two eastbound, and two westbound), allowing direct and economical access to a wide variety of markets, and its importance to the regional economy.”

Sign up for Waterway Journal's weekly newsletter.Our weekly newsletter delivers the latest inland marine news straight to your inbox including breaking news, our exclusive columns and much more.

While acknowledging competition from other ports in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic region, S&P Global Ratings further praised Port NOLA’s diversity of operations and cargoes, the strong economy of the New Orleans area, the “low industry risk relative to that of other industries and sectors,” and the “very strong management and governance that we believe has established a track record of operating its major lines of business and managing risk.”

S&P noted the port’s capital improvement plan and its 2018 acquisition of the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad as avenues for continued growth.

According to the S&P Global Ratings report, the port handled about 2.7 million short tons of breakbulk cargo in 2018, down from 3 million in 2017. The agency attributed that drop to ongoing trade tariffs. Total general cargo declined 3.7 percent in 2018. For bulk cargo, though, the port handled 31.9 million tons in 2018, which was a 6.2 percent growth over 2017. The port also continued to see growth in cruise passengers in 2018, with 1.1 million passengers cruising from New Orleans.

S&P noted that the Port of New Orleans is No. 1 in the country for the import of iron, steel and natural rubber, and No. 2 for coffee imports.