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Morningstar Finds Wisconsin the Strongest-Funded Pension System and Illinois the Weakest for the Second Year in a Row among States; Puerto Rico the Weakest Overall9-16-13 10:02 AM EDT

CHICAGO, Sept. 16, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Morningstar, Inc. (NASDAQ: MORN), a leading provider of independent investment research, today published the 2013 edition of its research report, "The State of State Pension Plans," which analyzed current data for pension plans administered by all 50 states. New this year, Morningstar also included an analysis of the pension plan administered by the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Morningstar's municipal credit analysts found that based on two key funding metrics, the state of Wisconsin had the strongest-funded state pension plan system while Illinois had the weakest among all 50 states, for the second year in a row. However, Puerto Rico ranked the weakest among all the pension systems evaluated by Morningstar.

Morningstar's pension plan analysis focused on two key metrics:

"Pension plans are inherently challenging to understand because of their complexity, weak disclosure requirements, and their sheer number. In addition, pension accounting is filled with assumptions, which leads to a lot of uncertainty. During the last few years, there has been a lot of negative attention focused on pensions, but new standards approved by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board could spark some significant changes," Rachel Barkley, municipal credit analyst for Morningstar, said. "We've seen the funded levels of state pension plans continue to decline during the last year, albeit modestly, and the bankruptcy filings of San Bernardino, Calif. and Detroit, Mich. may have significant effects on the national level.

"On the upside, recent data indicate that long-term investment returns are generally in line with assumptions used by most pension plans. Additionally, in recent years most states have implemented some level of pension reforms."

Additional key conclusions from Morningstar's review of state pension plan systems include:

Morningstar's state pensions research report also includes a discussion of trends, pension reform, recent bankruptcies, shortcomings in disclosure and transparency, and federal legislation. Morningstar analysts also compiled aggregate pension data by state, including assets, funded ratio, and UAAL per capita, along with individual pension plan data by state.

An excerpt of "The State of State Pension Plans 2013" is available at http://global.morningstar.com/Pensions2013. For a video and article highlighting this year's research findings, please visit http://www.morningstar.com/goto/StatePension. For more information about Morningstar's analysis of government pension plans, the company's "State and Local Pensions 101" overview is available at http://global.morningstar.com/pensions101.

Morningstar plans to update its research on state pension plans annually. Last year, the company launched analyst research on 100 municipal obligors and bond reports for approximately 1 million municipal bonds. More information about Morningstar's municipal bond research is available at http://global.morningstar.com/muniresearch.

About Morningstar, Inc.
Morningstar, Inc. is a leading provider of independent investment research in North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. The company offers an extensive line of products and services for individuals, financial advisors, and institutions. Morningstar provides data on approximately 433,000 investment offerings, including stocks, mutual funds, and similar vehicles, along with real-time global market data on nearly 10 million equities, indexes, futures, options, commodities, and precious metals, in addition to foreign exchange and Treasury markets. Morningstar also offers investment management services through its registered investment advisor subsidiaries and has more than $166 billion in assets under advisement and management as of June 30, 2013. The company has operations in 27 countries.

©2013 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Media Contact:
Nadine Youssef, +1 312 696-6601 or nadine.youssef@morningstar.com

SOURCE Morningstar, Inc.

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