By JAMES A. LOYOLA
NLEX Corporation, the concessionaire of the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and the Subic–Clark–Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX), is seen to generate stable cash flows despite regulatory challenges.
Philippine Rating Services Corporation (PhilRatings) thus maintained the highest Credit Rating of PRS Aaa, with a Stable Outlook, for the firm’s total outstanding Fixed-rate Bonds of ₱13.0 billion.
Obligations rated PRS Aaa are of the highest quality with minimal credit risk. The obligor’s capacity to meet its financial commitment on the obligation is extremely strong.
The ratings were assigned because NLEX Corporation maintained strong cash flows and buffer in terms of operating margins to comfortably service debt obligations and be financially flexible against external shocks.
PhilRatings also noted the firm’s relatively conservative capital structure supported by retained earnings which beef up the Company’s equity position; its well-managed toll franchise; and the resilient demand for its toll services.
However, the ratings agency also noted political pressures which may continue to cause delays in relation to the remaining regular and contractual adjustments of toll rates of NLEX Corporation.
While it has been finally granted the authority to raise toll fees, there are two remaining petitions filed by the company in 2016 and 2018. These petitions are still pending.
NLEX Corp. is the concessionaire of the largest toll road network in the country. The company has maintained and efficiently managed its toll roads and facilities with an experienced management team and the solid support of its parent company, Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC).
Traffic volume has consistently increased year-on-year, fueling the company’s revenues. Additional income from the toll rate adjustments implemented this year further boosted operating income.
This sustained profitability has translated to healthy cash flows and a robust equity base. Total revenues were at ₱11.2 billion for the first three quarters of the year posting a 15 percent growth from the same period last year.