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Standard & Poor's
Type Division of The McGraw-Hill Companies
Founded 1860, present corporation status in 1941
Headquarters New York City, United States
Key people Deven Sharma (President)
Industry Financial Services
Website www.standardandpoors.com

Standard & Poor's (S&P) is a division of McGraw-Hill that publishes financial research and analysis on stocks and bonds. It is well known for the stock market indexes, the US-based S&P 500, the Australian S&P/ASX 200, the Canadian S&P/TSX, the Italian S&P/MIB and India's S&P CNX Nifty.

Contents

Business description

New York headquarters

Standard & Poor's operates as a financial services company. Its products and services include credit ratings, equity research, S&P indices, funds ratings, risk solutions, governance services, evaluations, and data services. The company’s division, Capital IQ, provides information and workflow solutions to financial institutions, advisory firms, and corporations. Capital IQ provides integrated financial information and technology solutions, including auditable company financials, a screener combining financial and nonfinancial items, an integrated public and private capital market database, and various relationship development tools. The company serves institutional professionals, financial institutions, corporations, financial advisors, and individual investors worldwide. hgdfjhfkhdgjl;'k';

Corporate history

Standard & Poor's traces its history back to 1860, with the publication by Henry Varnum Poor of History of Railroads and Canals in the United States. This book was an attempt to compile comprehensive information about the financial and operational state of U.S. railroad companies. Henry Varnum went on to establish H.V. and H.W. Poor Co with his son, Henry William, and published updated versions of this book on an annual basis.

In 1906 Luther Lee Blake founded the Standard Statistics Bureau, with the view to providing financial information on non-railroad companies. Instead of an annually published book Standard Statistics would use 5" x 7" cards, allowing for more frequent updates.

In 1966 S&P was acquired by The McGraw-Hill Companies, and now encompasses the Financial Services division.[1]

Credit ratings

Standard & Poor's, as a credit rating agency (CRA), issues credit ratings for the debt of public and private corporations. It is one of several CRAs that have been designated a Nationally Recognized Statistical Rating Organization by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

It issues both short-term and long-term credit ratings.

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Long-term credit ratings

S&P rates borrowers on a scale from AAA to D. Intermediate ratings are offered at each level between AA and CCC (i.e., BBB+, BBB and BBB-). For some borrowers, S&P may also offer guidance (termed a "credit watch") as to whether it is likely to be upgraded (positive), downgraded (negative) or uncertain (neutral).

Investment Grade

  • AAA  : the best quality borrowers, reliable and stable (many of them governments)
  • AA  : quality borrowers, a bit higher risk than AAA
  • A  : economic situation can affect finance
  • BBB  : medium class borrowers, which are satisfactory at the moment

Non-Investment Grade (also known as junk bonds)

  • BB  : more prone to changes in the economy
  • B  : financial situation varies noticeably
  • CCC  : currently vulnerable and dependent on favorable economic conditions to meet its commitments
  • CC  : highly vulnerable, very speculative bonds
  • C  : highly vulnerable, perhaps in bankruptcy or in arrears but still continuing to pay out on obligations
  • CI  : past due on interest
  • R  : under regulatory supervision due to its financial situation
  • SD  : has selectively defaulted on some obligations
  • D  : has defaulted on obligations and S&P believes that it will generally default on most or all obligations
  • NR  : not rated

Short-term issue credit ratings

S&P rates specific issues on a scale from A-1 to D. Within the A-1 category it can be designated with a plus sign (+). This indicates that the issuer's commitment to meet its obligation is very strong. Country risk and currency of repayment of the obligor to meet the issue obligation are factored into the credit analysis and reflected in the issue rating.

  • A-1  : obligor's capacity to meet its financial commitment on the obligation is strong
  • A-2  : is susceptible to adverse economic conditions however the obligor's capacity to meet its financial commitment on the obligation is satisfactory
  • A-3  : adverse economic conditions are likely to weaken the obligor's capacity to meet its financial commitment on the obligation
  • B  : has significant speculative characteristics. The obligor currently has the capacity to meet its financial obligation but faces major ongoing uncertainties that could impact its financial commitment on the obligation
  • C  : currently vulnerable to nonpayment and is dependent upon favorable business, financial and economic conditions for the obligor to meet its financial commitment on the obligation
  • D  : is in payment default. Obligation not made on due date and grace period may not have expired. The rating is also used upon the filing of a bankruptcy petition.

Stock market indices

Standard & Poor's publishes a large number of stock market indices, covering every region of the world, market capitalization level, and type of investment (e.g. indices for REITs and preferred stocks)

These indices include:

Publications

Standard & Poor's publishes a near-weekly (48 times a year) stock market analysis newsletter called The Outlook which is issued both in print and online to subscribers.

Criticism

Credit rating agencies such as Standard & Poor's have been subject to criticism in the wake of large losses beginning in 2007 in the collateralized debt obligation (CDO) market that occurred despite being assigned top ratings by the CRAs.

Credit ratings of AAA (the highest rating available) were given to large portions of even the riskiest pools of loans. Investors, trusting the low risk profile that AAA implies, loaded up on these collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) that later became unsellable. Those that could be sold often took staggering losses. For instance, losses on $340.7 million worth of collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) issued by Credit Suisse Group added up to about $125 million, despite being rated AAA by Standard & Poor's.[3]

It is also worth mentioning that Standard & Poor's apparently failed to predict the bankruptcy of all the largest Icelandic banks and a weaker position of the Icelandic Government in 2008, a country that had a very high rating until its economy suddenly collapsed.

Companies pay Standard & Poor's to rate their debt issues. As a result, some critics have contended that Standard & Poor's is beholden to these issuers and that its ratings are not as objective as they should be.

In April 2009 Standard & Poor's called for "new faces" in the Irish Government, which was seen as interfering in the democratic process. In a subsequent statement they said they were "misunderstood."[4]

See also

References

External links


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