RIYADH: Several prominent Saudi companies received affirmation on their credit ratings from Moody’s Investor Services, a leading global provider of financial assessments, research, and risk analysis.
Following the agency’s recent update to its Government-Related Issuers Methodology, several firms, including Saudi Basic Industries Corp., Saudi Telecom Co., and Saudi Electricity Co., have maintained their A1 ratings, while Saudi Arabian Mining Co., also known as Ma’aden, continues to hold a Baa1 rating.
For SABIC, the A1 rating acknowledges its strong global presence in the petrochemicals market, competitive cost structure, and robust financial health.
Moody’s also highlights the cyclical nature of SABIC’s operations and its concentration in Saudi Arabia as considerations.
stc’s A1 rating reflects its dominant position in the Saudi telecommunications sector, strong financial metrics, and substantial government support. Challenges include market competition and the capital intensity of the telecom industry, Moody’s stated.
SEC’s rating considers its integrated electricity operations, market dominance, and regulatory support balanced against the company’s growing debt burden due to significant infrastructure investments.
Ma’aden’s Baa1 rating is supported by its diversified production, low-cost operations, and strategic importance to Saudi Arabia’s economy.
The company’s exposure to commodity price volatility and its expansion plans are areas of focus.
The positive outlooks for SABIC, stc, and SEC align with Moody’s view on the government of Saudi Arabia, indicating a high likelihood of state support.
Furthermore, Ma’aden’s stable outlook reflects its solid financial policies and liquidity management.
The ratings of the Saudi companies could potentially be upgraded or downgraded based on several factors outlined by Moody’s.
For SABIC, an upgrade could be on the horizon if the ratings of the Saudi government or Saudi Aramco are elevated or if the company itself demonstrates improved revenue and profitability and maintains strong credit metrics and liquidity.
Conversely, SABIC’s ratings might face a downgrade if the company experiences a significant downturn in operating performance or engages in heavy debt-financed investments, pushing its deficit to earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization ratio toward a multiple of 1.5.
Similarly, stc could see its scores positively impacted if the ratings of the government or the Public Investment Fund are upgraded, given its status as one of the highest-rated telecom operators globally.
However, an escalation in competition, debt-financed acquisitions, or sustained negative free cash flow could apply downward pressure on stc’s ratings. Any decrease in the government’s or PIF’s ratings would also likely result in a downgrade for stc.
SEC’s situation mirrors that of the aforementioned entities, with the potential for an upgrade if the sovereign rating of Saudi Arabia or the PIF improves, contingent upon the company maintaining strong operational and financial performance.
A downgrade could occur if there is a notable decline in the company’s liquidity profile or its financial metrics weaken significantly.
Ma’aden’s ratings could be elevated if the company successfully reduces its debt relative to EBITDA and boosts its retained cash flow to net debt ratio while maintaining strong liquidity.
Conversely, an increase in debt and EBITDA ratio beyond certain thresholds or a significant weakening of liquidity could trigger a downgrade.
Adjustments in the perceived likelihood of support from PIF or the government in times of financial stress could also influence Ma’aden’s ratings.