In Which Sector Would I Find a Combined Utility Credit?

Merritt currently classifies utility credits into the following sectors: Retail Electric, Water/Sewer, Wholesale Electric, Gas, and Solid Waste. Retail Electric, Water/Sewer, and Wholesale Electric are considered to be a part of the Merritt Standard Sector offering. Records for utility credits are created in CreditScope based upon the pledged revenues on outstanding debt - a straightforward process when only one source of revenue is pledged. As its name implies, a combined utility provides more than one type of utility service. When a combined utility credit is backed by more than one...

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Category: CreditScope, Merritt Data

Is Your CreditScope Data Up to Date?

The Merritt data included in CreditScope is updated at the end of every business week. Most people are winding down their work weeks by Friday afternoon, but not at Merritt Research Services. "Our week is winding up on Friday afternoon," according to Troy Gerleman, Chief Operating Officer of Merritt Research Services. Merritt sends the updated data to Investortools for processing over the weekend. The updated data is then delivered electronically to clients typically during business hours on Monday. Most company's IT departments will then integrate the data update into the system so that...

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Category: CreditScope, Merritt Data

Municipal Bond Audit Timing Study Shows Little Change from Prior Years

Merritt Research Services has released its 2012 report on the timeliness of municipal audits, showing little change from prior years. This year's study, examined over 38,000 audits over the five-year period from 2007-2011, and over 8,000 audits for fiscal 2011 alone. While most analysts and investors continue to expect a six-month lag between the end of a borrower's fiscal year and the completion of its audit, the study shows a wide variance among sectors - and among individual issuers. The 2012 study revealed a median audit time of 145 days for fiscal year 2011, compared to 146 days for...

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Category: Report, Merritt Data

Memos Provide Greater Insight into Financials

Merritt Research Services populates values in the Financial Data screen, which are then used to generate formulas and ratios designed to paint an accurate picture of a Credit's current financial condition. These calculations reflect liquidity, fiscal condition, working capital, leverage, coverage, and profitability. These formulas, ratios, and values that comprise them play an important role in credit analysis, but leave room for misinterpretation when considered out of context. The Notes contained within Audited Financial Statements often provide an abundance of information that may not be...

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Category: CreditScope, Merritt Data

New Disclosure Standards for Charity Care

Prior to the amendments made in the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) Accounting Standards Update No. 2010-23, Measuring Charity Care for Disclosure in August 2010, existing guidance did not prescribe a specific measurement basis for a health care entity to disclose charity care. Health care entities were required to disclose amounts related to their charity care policy, but the methodology for doing so was left up to each entity. Most often, this was a 'charges foregone for services and supplies' furnished under the entities' charity care policy. The charges foregone amounts...

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Category: Accounting, Merritt Data

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

GASB 54 Clarifies Fund Balance Distinctions

Fund balance refers to the difference between assets and liabilities in the governmental funds balance sheet. This information is one of the most widely used elements of state and local government financial statements. Users of financial statements examine fund balance information for a variety of reasons such as identifying the available resources that can be used to repay long-term debt, or determining whether a government has the necessary resources to pay for new programs, or the continuance or expansion of existing programs. Fund balance carries the potential to be misunderstood, even...

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Category: Accounting, Merritt Data

Bad Debts to Reduce Net Patient Revenue (rather than increasing Net Operating Expense) for Hospitals

In July 2011, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) issued Accounting Standards Update 2011-07, Health Care Entities (Topic 954), Presentation and Disclosure of Patient Service Revenue, Provision for Bad Debt, and the Allowance for Doubtful Accounts for Certain Health Care Entities. The amendments in the Update change the presentation of the statement of operations. The provision for bad debts for patient service revenue is required to be presented on a separate line as a deduction from patient service revenue. The new presentation will show net patient service revenue that is...

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Category: Accounting, 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

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