Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Franklin Institute finances now 'stable': Moody's

State aid crucial as Parkway museum plots expansion

Franklin Institute finances now 'stable': Moody's


As the Franklin Institute prepares to expand, the Parkway science museum's financial outlook is now 'stable,' up from its previous 'negative,' says Moody's Investor Service analyst Heide Wilde in a report to clients. So its credit rating will remain at Baa1, above junk-bond levels, as it prepares to borrow more money.

The museum is already "challenged" by its "aggressive debt profile," with variable-rate debt hedged by interest-rate swaps, Moody's reported. But current management has boosted attendance, improved cash flow, and raised "expectations that Commonwealth of Pennsylvania funding" totalling $11 million, plus more from private-sector donors, and city-backed short-term borrowing, "will cover financing and reimbursement costs" for the museum's planned expansion.

Montly operating cash flow rose to $13.5 million in fiscal 2012, up from $11.5 million in fiscal 2009, the report added. Last year's "Inspire Science" capital campaign raised $65 million; gifts and trustee contributions now account for 21% of the Franklin Institute's yearly budget, a relatively high proportion; admissions (not counting merchandise and event sales) totalled 46%, up from 38% in 2009.

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PhillyDeals posts drafts, transcripts and updates of Joseph N. DiStefano's columns and stories about Philly-area business, which he's been writing since 1989.

DiStefano studied economics, history and a little engineering at Penn and taught writing at St. Joseph's. He has written thousands of columns and articles for the Inquirer, Bloomberg and other media, wrote the book Comcasted, and raised six children with his wife, who is a saint.

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Reach Joseph N. at JoeD@phillynews.com or 215 854 5194.

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