The credit rating of a corporation is a financial indicator to potential investors of debt securities such as bonds. These are assigned by credit rating agencies such as A.M. Best, Dun & Bradstreet, Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s or Fitch Ratings and have letter designations such as A, B, C. The Standard & Poor’s rating scale is as follows, from excellent to poor: AAA, AA+, AA, AA-, A+, A, A-, BBB+, BBB, BBB-, BB+, BB, BB-, B+, B, B-, CCC+, CCC, CCC-, CC, C, D. Anything lower than a BBB- rating is considered a speculative or junk bond. The Moody’s rating system is similar in concept but the naming is a little different. It is as follows, from excellent to poor: Aaa, Aa1, Aa2, Aa3, A1, A2, A3, Baa1, Baa2, Baa3, Ba1, Ba2, Ba3, B1, B2, B3, Caa1, Caa2, Caa3, Ca, C. A.M. Best rates from excellent to poor in the following manner: A++, A+, A, A-, B++, B+, B, B-, C++, C+, C, C-, D, E, F, and S. The CTRISKS rating system is as follows: CT3A, CT2A, CT1A, CT3B, CT2B, CT1B, CT3C, CT2C and CT1C. All these CTRISKS grades are mapped to one-year probability of default.
(AAA = Prime) ; (AA+, AA, AA- = High Grade) ; (A+, A, A-= Upper medium grade) ; (BBB+, BBB, BBB-= Lower medium grade). Companies with a rating of BBB- and higher (S&P scale) are considered “investment grade”. The higher the rating of a company, the lower the risk associated with the investment and the lower the cap and the higher the price.
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