Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

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.

Joseph N. DiStefano
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PhillyDeals posts raw drafts and updates of Joseph N. DiStefano's columns and stories about Philly-area finance, investment, commercial real estate, tech, hiring and public spending, which he's been writing since 1989, mostly for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

DiStefano studied economics, history and a little engineering at Penn, taught writing at St. Joe's, and has written the book Comcasted, more than a thousand columns, and thousands of articles, and raised six children with his wife, who is a saint.

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

Joseph N. DiStefano
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