Standard & Poor's Global Ratings said Monday it is maintaining its A-plus rating on debt issued by United Parcel Service Inc. but revising the outlook to negative from stable, on concerns about the company's pension deficit, which S&P views as debt. "Although we expect the company's earnings and cash flow to improve from the growth of its e-commerce business and management's cost-reduction initiatives, we don't anticipate that UPS' pension deficit will decline materially through 2017 because we expect that interest rates will remain low over this period," the rating agency said in a statement. S&P is expecting UPS' funds-from- operations-to-debt ratio to remain in the high 30% area through 2017, compared with its previous expectation of a rate of 40% to 55%. If it should fall below 30%, "we could downgrade the company," said the statement. UPS shares were slightly higher in afternoon trade, and are up 13% in the year to date, while the S&P 500 has gained 6.6%.
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