Rating Migration of Corporate Bonds: Comparative Results and Investor/Lender Implication
47 Pages Posted: 7 Nov 2008
Date Written: December 1996
Bond ratings are usually first assigned by rating agencies to public debt at the time of issuance and are periodically reviewed by the rating companies. If deemed warranted, changes in ratings are assigned after the review. A change in a rating reflects the agencyâ¬"s assessment that the companyâ¬"s credit quality has improved (upgrade) or deteriorated (downgrade). A coincident effect, in some proximity to the date of the rating change, is a change in the price of the issue. This article reports on an in-depth investigation of ratings changes (drift) over the time as well as the implied impact on the price of the bond and on investment strategies. Our analysis compares rating changes from the two major agencies, Moodyâ¬"s and S&P, over the period 1970-1995, as well as yield and duration results by rating class from 1985-1996. For the first time, results from several studies which have documented and analyzed these data patterns are contrasted. Depending upon which study one uses, the results and implications can be very different. We expect that the findings will have implications for such diverse users as bond investors who concentrate on any or all segments of the corporate bond market, eg., high yield bond and â¬Scrossoverâ¬? investors (those who typically invest in investment grade bonds but who can invest in split-rated issues or the highest grade of non-investment grade bonds), mark-to-market analysts and traders in the new and growing market for credit-spread-derivatives. The latter market enables banks and other institutions to trade and hedge small shifts in a borrowerâ¬"s credit risk as well as the extreme negative migration to default.
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