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.