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Fitch Ratings: CMBS Downgrades To Rise In 2002

NEW YORK, Mar 8, 2002 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Commercial mortgage-backed securitizations (CMBS) with retail, hotel and health care collateral are projected to have increasing delinquencies in 2002, and transactions with these concentrations may be downgraded, according to new research published today by Fitch Ratings. Additionally, Fitch is concerned with the increasing vacancy rates in several office markets, and transactions with office concentrations in these markets will also be closely monitored.

"Fitch expects the pace of CMBS downgrades to increase in 2002 due to the weakened economic conditions and real estate markets across the U.S.," said Karen Nelson Trebach, Director, Fitch Ratings. "Although to date there have been low delinquencies and losses in deals, Fitch expects the percent of deals downgraded will be significantly higher than the average trend of 3.3% over the past three years."

Upgrades are expected to continue at a more moderate pace than the average trend of 28.3% over the past three years. The upgrades that do happen in 2002 will be mainly on investment-grade classes in transactions that experience sizable paydowns.

Fitch notes that it will keep a close eye on the office markets in San Francisco, Boston, Houston and Dallas. The new report also states that Fitch will continue to closely monitor any retail bankruptcies that may affect ratings and already has downgraded several transactions with concentrated exposure to Kmart.

This outlook is presented as part of an overview of CMBS surveillance during the year 2001. Fitch CMBS surveillance utilized sixteen dedicated staff members to conduct 345 reviews of CMBS transactions last year.

"Fitch Ratings utilizes a staff of significant size and expertise to achieve superior surveillance," said Mary MacNeill, Senior Director, Fitch Ratings. "Fitch has been monitoring and taking rating actions on all CMBS deals since 1992."

The report "CMBS Upgrades/Downgrades: The Trend Ends?" can be found at Fitch Ratings' web site at 'www.fitchratings.com'. After linking to the CMBS sector, the report can be found in the section marked "Criteria Reports" under "Other CMBS Topics."

Fitch Ratings
Karen Nelson Trebach

Mary MacNeill

Matt Burkhard

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