Anchorage port receives high S&P marks

Bond rating agency Standard & Poor's has awarded an `A' credit rating to the Port of Anchorage, citing the port's important role in the state, strong cash asset situation and an upcoming $700 million expansion project that will add 135 acres to port property.

While not a longterm debt rating, since the port has no longterm debt outstanding, the rating reflects the general creditworthiness of the port.

In issuing the rating, S&P's pointed to the port's position as the state's primary maritime facility. The ratings firm also noted the port's strong liquidity, with 2006 unrestricted cash equal to 832 days.

Describing the expansion plan as "manageable" for the port and a future source of additional capacity, S&P said: "The stable outlook reflects the port's continued market dominance, solid financial performance, and prudent implementation of the capital improvement plan."

The Port of Anchorage is the entry point for 90 percent of the goods consumed in the state, servicing nearly 80 percent of the state's population. The port also provides all of the jet fuel used at Elmendorf Air Force Base, more than 90 percent of the fuel used at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, and stages all refined petroleum product exports from refineries in the interior of Alaska. Designated a U.S. Defense Department strategic port, Anchorage plays an important role in supporting the deployment of U.S. Armed Forces, including units based at Fort Richardson and other military installations in Alaska.

Last year, the port handled 4.3 million short tons of cargo and more than 500,000 TEUs.

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