Standard & Poor's Corp. raised more municipal ratings than it lowered in the third quarter of 1993, but the dollar volume downgraded exceeded the amount upgraded, the rating agency said yesterday.
Standard & Poor's downgraded $3.1 billion of municipal debt during the quarter and upgraded $2.2 billion. Thirty-six issuers were downgraded, while 45 were upgraded.
The utilities sector was the largest contributor to the dollar volume of downgrades during the period. Three utilities were downgraded and four were upgraded.
Two issues for the New York State Power Authority were downgraded during the quarter, making up the bulk of the $2.3 billion of utility debt the agency downgraded.
On Aug. 23, Standard & Poor's downgraded the authority's $2.2 billion of outstanding debt as well as its planned $1.1 billion refunding. Standard & Poor's said it downgraded the authority to AA-minus from AA because of shrinking revenues and increased price competition.
The rating change came as the authority's administration was being criticized by New York Gov. Mario M. Cuomo for its overall management and syndicate selection process for the refunding sale.
At the same time, the rating agency downgraded the authority's $115 million of adjustable-rate tender notes to A-plus/A-1 from AA-minus/A-1 -plus.
The housing sector had the largest number of rating changes during the third quarter; 15 issuers were downgraded, while 1I were upgraded.
During the period, Standard & Poor's raised the ratings on three issuers of special tax obligation bonds totaling $921 million of outstanding debt. The agency did not lower any special tax issuers.
Ratings for $77 million of housing debt were lowered, while ratings for $108 million were raised.
In the health-care and hospital industry, nine issuers with a total of $256 million of outstanding municipal debt were downgraded, and 16 issuers with $350 million in debt were upgraded.
One issuer with $316 million of education-related debt was downgraded by the rating agency during the quarter and three issuers with $56 million of debt were upgraded.
Transportation issuers had the quietest quarter, with no rating changes.
Standard & Poor's made 13 rating changes for general obligation bonds during the quarter. The rating agency upgraded six issuers with $488 million of outstanding debt, and it downgraded seven issuers with $62 million of outstanding debt.
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