CHRISTUS Health debt rated A+ by S&P

Boosted by strong financials, Catholic hospital chain CHRISTUS Health has received an A+ score from financial ratings firm Standard & Poor's Ratings Services on its debt offerings. This represents a quick turnaround for the 50-plus hospital chain, whose debt rating was lowered by S&P earlier this year.

CHRISTUS, which also runs 175 clinics, outpatient centers and physician offices, was created in 1999 when it acquired substantially all of the assets of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word of Houston and the Incarnate Word Health System of San Antonio.

The system, whose total assets were $4.4 billion as of September 2009, produced positive operating and excess margins of 2.1 percent and 9.4 percent in its most recent reporting period. That's a big improvement from its 2008 year-end financials when it ended with a 0.3 percent operating margin.

Now, the system is issuing $73.3 million in hospital revenue refunding bonds, while changing the terms of existing debt from auction-rate bonds to uninsured or insured fixed-rate debt, capitalizing on its improved health.

S&P analysts, who rate the chain's outlook as stable, like the system's margins, its improved debt service coverage and are satisfied with its operating and debt liquidity.

To learn more about CHRISTUS and its ratings:
- read this S&P press release

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