Moody’s boosts Brunswick credit rating

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Moody’s Investors Services recently upgraded Brunswick Corp.'s Corporate Family Rating to Ba3 from B1 due to "significant enhancements in its operating performance and credit metrics and Moody’s expectation that there will be further improvement."

The outlook is stable.

“We believe that the continuing demand for pontoon and aluminum boats, the increasing age of licensed boats and fewer used boats for sale will help drive demand for new fiberglass boats in the future,” Moody’s senior credit officer Kevin Cassidy said in a statement. “Brunswick’s improved cost structure, commitment to debt repayment and stabilizing marine demand trends have led to a meaningful improvement in earnings and credit metrics.”

The announcement comes on the heels of Standard & Poor’s decision to raise Brunswick’s credit rating from B+ to BB-.

In advance of Brunswick’s first-quarter earnings report, scheduled for release Thursday, Wells Fargo Securities’ Tim Conder said, “[Brunswick] remains well-positioned to gain domestic boat share against weakened competitors in boats and international share in diesel and outboard engines.

“While we expect Q1 2012 could be challenged from a topline perspective (absence of Sealine revenues, Q1 2011 large Life Fitness order, FX and reduction of sterndrive engines related to plant consolidation) potential upside could come from small boat shipments and outboard engines,” Conder added.

The bottom line, he said, “We would continue building positions in [Brunswick] shares ahead of Q1 2012 results.”

Brunswick stock opened today at $25.50 a share. Its 52-week high and low are $27.70 and $13.19.

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