Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Moody's "Bottom Rung" List Of 283 Default Risk Companies

On Tuesday, Moody's Investors Service published a new list called the Bottom Rung, which details which companies the ratings agency says are most likely to default on their debts. It estimates that about 45% of the companies on the list will default on debt over the next year. Defaulting on debt doesn't necessarily mean bankruptcy - it can also include missing a debt payment.

According to the Wall Street Journal:

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.

Among the companies listed as "Bottom Rung": According to the Wall Street Journal: Source Interlink, Reader's Digest, Univision Communications, NBC Acquisition Corp and Sirius XM Radio Inc.

Source Interlink, whose titles include Soap Opera Digest and Soap Opera Weekly, was a new addition to the list this quarter.

About 45 percent of companies on the list will default on debt in the next year, Moody's says, which could include anything from filing for bankruptcy to missing debt payments.
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