Fitch Ratings, Inc., the leading American credit agency in the nonprofit senior living sector, has assigned a ‘BBB+’ rating to fixed-rate obligation bonds issued on behalf of Westminster-Canterbury of the Blue Ridge, certifying a strong and stable financial condition.
“Our community is now rated as an investment grade credit. This is an important third-party affirmation of our strength,” said Anna D. Buchanan, CFO and treasurer of WCBR.
This is the first time WCBR has sought a rating from Fitch.
WCBR has no immediate plans to take on additional debt. The new rating, however, supports WCBR’s plan to refund bonds from several years ago through the 2022 issue. And if further borrowing occurs going forward, the new rating enables WCBR to do so at a lower cost.
Fitch Ratings Inc. is one of the “Big Three” American credit rating agencies, the other two being Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s. They are the largest nationally recognized statistical rating organizations (NRSROs) designated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Among the three, Fitch dominates ratings coverage of senior living communities.
In an announcement in January, Fitch explained its analysis of WCBR this way:
“The ‘BBB+’ IDR rating reflects WCBR’s strong demand in a sound service area that has supported consistent operating performance and a good financial profile. As a result of its competitive position as the only type-A community in its market, WCBR has maintained consistently strong independent living occupancy and stable operations despite some disruption from the coronavirus pandemic.”
“Given its recently improved liquidity profile and the significant maximum annual debt service (MADS) savings from the issuance of the series 2022 bonds, Fitch believes that WCBR has debt capacity to fund its future capital plans at the current rating level.”
Fitch also attributed to WCBR the following:
Anna Buchanan said the rating “positions us well in fulfilling our commitments to WCBR residents as well as supporting our strategy for the future.”