Feb 4 (The following statement was released by the rating agency)
Fitch Ratings' released its 2014 outlook for the U.S. Corporates group today. Fitch believes the outlook is stable, reflecting an improving macroeconomic environment along with relatively strong corporate profitability leading to a steadily improving credit profile for U.S. corporate ratings.
Fitch expects a positive trend in revenue growth, EBITDA margin and free cash flow in 2014 for U.S. corporates. Improvement in key economic indicators such as unemployment and the housing market along with stable inflation leads Fitch to expect this positive trend. In addition, following a slight uptick in debt-to-EBITDA leverage for U.S. corporates in 2013, which reflected large issuance activity, Fitch expects leverage to improve in 2014 due primarily to EBITDA growth.
Fitch forecasts stable or positive outlooks for all of its individual U.S. corporate sectors in 2014.
However, the outlook is sensitive to macroeconomic conditions and a reversal in the progress achieved to date, especially related to unemployment could result in a negative revision. Likewise, rapidly increasing inflation, although unexpected, could also lead to a negative change in the outlook. Event risk that could erode the strength of the existing stable outlook include: U.S. debt ceiling negotiations, the pace of stimulus tapering and the growth rate of emerging markets.
The U.S. Corporates outlook report can be accessed at the Fitch web site. Please see the full report '2014 Outlook: U.S. Corporates: Stable Outlook with Improving Trends' available at 'www.fitchratings.com'.