Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Moody's double standard

Voltron says: good analysis from

Let's compare the financials of two stocks: MBIA (MBI) which has Moody's top rating of Aaa and Pfizer (PFE) recently downgraded by Moody's to Aa1 and by Fitch to AA-Plus from AAA. Here are two recent downgrades of Pfizer.

What is Moody’s rating scale?

Moody's Rating Scale
runs from a high of Aaa to a low of C, and comprises 21 notches. It is divided into two sections, investment grade and speculative grade. The lowest investment grade rating is Baa3. The highest speculative-grade rating is Ba1.

Long-Term Debt Ratings (maturities of one year or more):

Investment Grade
Aaa – “gilt edged”
Aa1, Aa2, Aa3 – high-grade
A1, A2, A3 – upper-medium grade
Baa1, Baa2, Baa3 – medium grade

Speculative Grade
Ba1, Ba2, Ba3 – speculative elements
B1, B2, B3 – lack characteristics of a desirable investment
Caa1, Caa2, Caa3 – bonds of poor standing
Ca – highly speculative
C – lowest rating, extremely poor prospects of attaining any real investment standing
Pfizer vs MBIA
  • Profit margin -61.76% vs. +17.07%
  • Return on Equity -35.54% vs. +12.13%
  • Revenue $3.12 Billion vs. $48.61 Billion
  • Earnings Per Share -$15.22 vs. +$1.20
  • Total Cash $5.73 Billion vs. $20.30 Billion
  • Total Debt $17.44 Billion vs. $8.69 Billion

Do the financials of MBIA look "gilt edged"?

Heck, do they look investment grade at all?

Is there any other way to interpret the above ratings other than incompetence or corruption? If there is, can someone please tell me what it is?

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