Moody’s Bottom Rung: The Kids Who Will be Left Behind

From the Wall Street Journal, link to the full document provided below.  Thanks to Zero Hedge, again!

Pilloried for missing credit problems in the nation’s mortgage markets, credit-ratings firm Moody’s Investors Service is trying to get ahead of corporate bankruptcies. The firm on Tuesday is publishing a list called the Bottom Rung, detailing the companies that Moody’s says are most likely to default on their debts.

With 283 companies, the list holds nearly every sector of the economy. The dominant industries on this at-risk list include much of the U.S. auto industry, the casino sector, and many retail chains, newspapers and broadcast-TV and radio-station networks. Energy firms, airlines and restaurant chains appear often.

The Moody’s Corp. unit rates debt of 2,073 companies, sizing up each one’s ability to pay what it owes. The Bottom Rung, which Moody’s will update monthly, represents roughly the riskiest 15% of all companies it tracks.

Moody’s estimates about 45% of Bottom Rung companies will default on debt in the next year. Combined, these companies have more than $260 billion in bond and bank debt. A default ranges from filing for bankruptcy to a distressed debt-exchange to missing a debt payment.

“Sounds like Moody’s may be trying to get out in front on defaults, given they were perhaps a little behind on subprime mortgages and commercial mortgage-backed securities,” said David Resnick, managing director at investment banker Rothschild.

Yet Moody’s is pushing into a gray zone, singling out some firms that say they’re in decent fiscal health. On Monday, imaging company Eastman Kodak objected to being on “the bottom rung.”

“Any speculation, however informed, suggesting that Kodak is less than financially sound, is irresponsible,” wrote Eastman Kodak spokesman David Lanzillo in an email. “Kodak is financially solid, and we are taking the right actions to ensure that we remain a strong and enduring competitor.”

Spanish-language media firm Univision Communications said: “Univision has more than ample liquidity to operate the business in the current environment and has sufficient cash on hand to meet all obligations and debt maturities.”

Not surprising are General Motors and Chrysler. But less-obvious names include information-technology giant Unisys; OSI Restaurant Partners, owner of the Outback Steakhouse restaurant chain, and MGM Mirage.

All of these companies on the list declined to comment or didn’t reply to a request for comment.

Moody’s estimates about 45% of its ‘Bottom Rung’ companies will default on debt in the next year. Among companies on the list are apparel maker Quiksilver (pictured above), Kodak and Advanced Micro Devices.

To compile the list, Moody’s chose the companies with the lowest credit ratings — those rated B3 or below — whose ratings were either negative or under review. The B3 rating is Moody’s 16th-lowest out of 21.

Applying that methodology retroactively to 2008 would have yielded about 157 companies, Moody’s officials said, 60 of which would have eventually defaulted.

“Even though it seems like we’ve had a lot of defaults already, this shows we aren’t even close to the peak. There is a lot of bad news to come,” said David Keisman, Moody’s senior vice president of corporate finance. “Our thought was that in this cycle, with all that’s happened, we are going to have a lot of bad news. What we can’t have is surprise bad news.”

For a link to the complete list, follow the link below.

Moody’s Bottom Rung 3.1.09
Get more Business Documents

Moody’s Releases The Leper List
Tyler Durden, Zero Hedge, March 9, 2009

Moody’s Aims to Be Ahead on Defaults

Jeffrey McCracken, Wall Street Journal, March 10, 2009


2 Responses to Moody’s Bottom Rung: The Kids Who Will be Left Behind

  1. […] Moody’s Bottom Rung: The Kids Who Will be Left Behind […]

  2. […] of corporate bankruptcies. The firm on Tuesday is publishing a list called the Bottom Rung, … Read more Related posts:America S Next Top Model Cycle 13 PhotosWho S Afraid Of Virginia Woolf PhotosWho Won […]

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