S&P's latest report, dated April 10, credits the museum with "strong attendance" - 571,000 last year, up "slightly" from 2010; and with raising a "growing museum fund," now $14.3 million, to pay down the debt the museum incurred when it moved to Fairmount Park after its previous fundraising drive "stalled" in the recession.
But S&P still lists a "negative outlook" for the museum; it will have to raise more money or improve its margins before its investment-grade credit rating is safe.
The museum borrowed to help finance its move from Center City near the Franklin Institute to Fairmount Park's Centennial Hall in West Philly, and had hoped to pay down its debt through increased fundraising. But like many nonprofits, it found both public and private funding sources dried up during the recession that started in 2008.
Analyst Kozlik warned last year the bonds should not be considered investment grade, given the nonprofit's tight margins. Kozlik wrote in a report to clients this week, after reviewing the museum's audited financials, released March 30, for the year ended Sept. 30: "The operating shortfall trend continued in FY11 and the PTM still has a strong reliance on fundraising to fund future debt service payment."