Merritt Adds 1,500+ Credits to Database

Merritt Research Services has been working diligently to increase the breadth of our credit coverage in key tax-backed sectors. We are pleased to announce an expanded version of our database - including information for over 1,500 additional standard tax-backed credits. Please look for this expanded dataset in your data update from the week of August 27, 2012. To verify that your system has been appropriately updated, you may check under the [Help] button on the main menu and select [About CreditScope]. Look for a "Credit data date" of 08/24/2012 or later.

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Category: CreditScope, Merritt Data

Wading Through the Debt Analysis of Tax-Backed Credits...

A Primer on Merritt's Approach to Tax-Backed Debt Statements Generating consistent, accurate, and comparable financial information is of the utmost importance to Merritt Research Services. In order to achieve this goal, it is paramount that we clearly define each of our fields. Nowhere is this more important than the debt analysis section of the tax-backed sectors. These fields are often difficult to standardize due to the variations of presentation and the abundance of long term debt vehicles available to municipal issuers. Regardless of the presentation, the guidelines below should help...

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Category: CreditScope, Merritt Data

Current Portion of Long-Term Debt versus Short-Term Debt Fields in CreditScope

The Current Portion of Long-Term Debt [CurPorLTD] field is populated with the scheduled principal payments for debt that is issued on a long-term basis - i.e., debt which is not due in its entirety within the next fiscal year. This field would also include any accelerated payments due to default or noncompliance. The Short-Term Debt field can be found in the database as [STD] for most revenue-backed sectors or [STDGov] for most tax-backed sectors. It is populated with short-term debt that is outstanding at fiscal year end. The field does not account for any short-term borrowings that were...

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Category: CreditScope, Merritt Data

Have You Updated Your CreditScope Demographic Data Lately?

Demographic trends can paint a vivid picture of a state or local economy, often contributing to changes in a Credit's finances. The CreditScope database includes demographic data compiled from three sources: the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), and the U.S. Census Bureau. Census Bureau information is comprised of the Decennial Census of Population and the American Community Survey (ACS), which "surveys a small percentage of the United States to produce yearly estimates on the nation's social, economic, and housing characteristics." Merritt is...

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Category: CreditScope, Demographics, Merritt Data

What Goes Into Cash & Short-Term Investments?

Merritt Research Services strives to paint the most accurate picture of a Credit's financial condition based on information provided in audited financial statements and notes contained therein. Because the dollar amount of Cash & Short Term Investments is used to calculate several salient liquidity ratios in the CreditScope database, it is particularly important to note that only unrestricted and highly liquid cash and short-term investments are included in this field. Merritt typically does not include any cash reserved for collateral, held by fiscal agents, or trustee-held restricted...

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Category: CreditScope, Merritt Data

Tax Base Data

Merritt Research Services provides tax base data for credits within the City, County, and School District sectors. Tax base data is found in the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) in the Statistical Section, which typically provides an abundance of information relating to economics and demographics. When entities do not provide tax base data in their CAFR, Merritt will utilize public documents from other sources, including Official Statements and Continuing Disclosure Documents which may be obtained through Electronic Municipal Market Access (EMMA). Tax base data provides an...

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Category: CreditScope, Merritt Data

Credit-to-Issue Associations

Merritt Research Services aggregates salient credit information by locating, obtaining, providing, and following an audit or fund contained in a Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) that best represents the source of payment for currently outstanding municipal bonds. Those efforts have established a universe of Credits (often referred to as obligors) in the Merritt data set. Merritt takes great care in establishing the association ("link") between an Issue or group of Issues associated with a given Credit. Generally, specific bond issues are linked based on the revenues...

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Category: CreditScope

Doing the Math: Total Enrollment and Student Attendance

The Merritt dataset for the School District sector includes two similar, yet distinctive statistics: Total Public School Enrollment and Average Daily Attendance. Their respective values are often close in proximity but their meanings are quite different. Total Public School Enrollment is a literal headcount determined by counting the number of students enrolled in a given school year. Typically, this statistic is gathered in October of each year. Average Daily Attendance is calculated by summing the attendance count for each day of the school year and dividing it by the total number of...

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Category: CreditScope, Merritt Data

Blanks versus Zeros

Merritt Research Services aims to provide the most comprehensive collection of data possible. In some instances, however, adequate disclosure has not been provided by the Credit. In those cases, certain data fields will be left blank. Blank data fields are not to be confused with zeros, which indicate a zero balance or value. In addition to insufficient disclosure, fields might also be left blank when data for a particular field is not broken out in enough detail for us to populate the respective field accurately. This situation might arise if a line item on a financial statement is combined...

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Category: CreditScope, Merritt Data

How Does Merritt Assign a Credit Name?

Merritt utilizes the Name field in CreditScope to identify the most recent audited financial statements that have been standardized into the Credit. Over the years, audit presentations have changed to accommodate entities with a corporate-type structure. For example, a Hospital credit may include affiliates, subsidiaries or related corporations. Naming the Credit to reflect the structure being standardized allows the user to quickly identify the audit presentation that Merritt used to standardize the most recent data provided. How is a Name Change Treated? Clients occasionally inquire...

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Category: CreditScope, Merritt Data

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