Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services has upgraded New York-based asset manager BlackRock Inc. on its improving credit metrics and the rating agency’s expectations for industry growth this year.
S&P raised its credit ratings on BlackRock (NYSE:BLK) to ‘AA-/A-1+’ from ‘A+/A-1′ today; citing both firm-specific and general industry factors.
“The upgrade reflects the improvements in BlackRock’s cash flow generation and key credit metrics, which we believe are sustainable,” said Standard & Poor’s credit analyst, Charles Rauch.
Indeed, the rating agency says that it expects the firm’s key credit metrics to gradually improve over time “as BlackRock grows with the aggregate global asset management industry.”
Citing the company’s size and diversity, S&P says that it expects BlackRock’s operating performance “to mirror that of the global asset management industry, which we expect to grow in the mid-single digits in 2014, after heady expansion during the past two years that benefited from a raging stock market.”
The rating has a stable outlook, which Rauch says, “reflects our expectation that BlackRock will maintain its leading market position and favorable reputation among global investors and thereby generate strong cash flows from operations to service its outstanding debt.”
S&P says that it could lower the ratings in the future if the company increased the leverage on its balance sheet in a material way, or if there were any regulatory reforms “that meaningfully weakens BlackRock’s business model or profitability.”
It also says that further upgrades are highly unlikely, “given the intense competition in the asset management industry”; and, uncertainty about whether certain asset managers, including BlackRock, could be designated as systemically important financial institutions, which would likely carry additional regulatory requirements and intensified oversight.