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QuantumOnline Credit Ratings

This page provides information on the credit ratings provided on the QuantumOnline tables, background information on credit ratings in general, and information on how to find credit ratings on the rating company websites.

Credit Ratings on QuantumOnline Tables

The credit ratings provided on the QuantumOnline tables are provided for the user's convenience in making preliminary decisions to select securities for further investigation. The user needs to understand a few aspects of the credit ratings provided on the QuantumOnline tables. First, the credit ratings provided are not up-to-date. Hopefully, they are reasonably up-to-date. Also, when both Moody's and S&P ratings are provided, they were not necessarily rated by the ratings companies at the same time and the date shown with the ratings is the date when QuantumOnline reviewed the ratings. The date shown has no relationship to the dates the rating companies revised the credit ratings shown on our tables.

Credit ratings can, and do, change on a daily basis and QuantumOnline does not have the means to keep the credit ratings current. Therefore it is up to the QuantumOnline user to confirm the current credit rating of a security through some other source (your broker, the rating company's websites, etc.) before relying a credit rating as the basis for making a final investment decision. We have dated our credit ratings so that the user can tell when the QuantumOnline ratings were last reviewed by QuantumOnline and in general we try to update the credit ratings every six to twelve months.

For clarity and ease of use, the credit ratings in the tables are displayed in green for investment grade ratings, red for non-investment grade ratings and black for the NR (not rated) and NF (not found) ratings.

The credit ratings provided on the QuantumOnline tables are for Moody's and Standard & Poor's. For information on the meaning of Moody's credit ratings you should go to Moody's Ratings Definitions page by clicking of the underlined link. For information on the meaning of S&P's credit ratings you should go to S&P's Standard & Poor's Ratings Definitions page by clicking of the underlined link. If you notice any mistakes in the credit ratings provided in the table or if you become aware of any changes in credit ratings for an individual company, please let us know via email.

Credit Ratings - General

Sources of Credit Ratings
To find the latest credit ratings of securities, the user can try Moodys.com, Fitchratings.com or Standard & Poor's. Your broker should also be able to provide the latest credit ratings.

What are Credit Ratings?
Credit ratings are published by Moody's, Standard & Poor's, Fitches and others. Credit ratings for a specific security issuer and their securities represent the rating company's evaluation of the credit worthiness of the issuing company. The following is what Moody's has to say about Credit Ratings: "The first thing you should know is that ratings are not investment recommendations. A bond rated Aaa is not necessarily "better" or "worse" than a bond rated Baa1, for example. Ratings are only one input you might consider in making your investment decision". For information on the Moody's definitions of their credit ratings you should go to their Ratings Definitions page by clicking of the underlined link.

Investment Grade Securities
Most users will be interested in "investment grade" securities. Investment grade securities are generally considered to be securities that are rated in one of the four highest rating categories of a nationally recognized rating agency (i.e. between Aaa and Baa by Moody's Investors Service, Inc. or between AAA and BBB by Standard & Poor's Corporation and Fitch IBCA, Inc.), or securities issued or guaranteed by the U.S. Government or one of its agencies or instrumentalities. Moody's investment grade ratings in order from the highest to the lowest are: Aaa, Aa1, Aa2, Aa3, A1, A2, A3, Baa1, Baa2 and Baa3. Moody's non-investment grade ratings in order from the highest to the lowest are Ba1, Ba2, Ba3, B1, B2, B3, Caa1, Caa2, Caa3, Ca and C. Standard & Poor's investment grade ratings in order from the highest to the lowest are: AAA, AA+, AA, AA-, A+, A, A-, BBB+, BBB and BBB-. Standard & Poor's non-investment grade ratings in order from the highest to the lowest are: BB+, BB, BB-, B+, B, B-, CCC+, CCC, CCC- CC, C, D and SD.

Finding Credit Ratings

Finding Credit Ratings on Moodys.com
Actually finding the credit rating for an individual security on Moodys.com is a challenge. The first thing you must do to use Moodys.com is register before you can use the website. After registering you can proceed to look for the latest ratings for securities. The basic tool that Moody's provides for finding credit ratings on their website is their Search which is available on their home page. Their Search has two parts - a "search by" and a "for".
SEARCH BY CUSIP NUMBER - To find the rating for an individual security we recommend first trying a search by CUSIP number if the CUSIP number is available. QuantumOnline provides CUSIP numbers for many income securities on our tables and at the top of our information page for individual securities. The CUSIP number is the nine digit number (sometimes including letters) directly under the ticker symbol on the table. To search for a CUSIP number, click on the "search by" box and select "CUSIP". Then enter the nine digit CUSIP number in the "for" box and press Enter or click on the "Go" button. If the page for that CUSIP number is found it will show the current Moody's credit rating for that security. If it's not found, then you have to go to Plan B which is try a search by by the issuer's name.
SEARCH BY ISSUERS NAME - To search by issuer's name, click on the "search by" box and select "ISSUER NAME". Then enter one or two distinctive words from the issuer's name in the "for" box. This search will probably bring up a list of a number of issuers that meet the search criteria. Then, click on the name of the correct issuer to go to the information on that issuer. Since the CUSIP search failed you will not find the CUSIP number in the listing of issuer's securities (at least under that CUSIP number).

Moody's Credit Ratings - Moody's investment grade ratings in order from the highest to the lowest are: Aaa, Aa1, Aa2, Aa3, A1, A2, A3, Baa1, Baa2 and Baa3. Moody's non-investment grade ratings in order from the highest to the lowest are Ba1, Ba2, Ba3, B1, B2, B3, Caa1, Caa2, Caa3, Ca and C. QuantumOnline has used three additional notations for Moody's ratings: "WR" (from Moody's) to indicate that Moody's has Withdrawn their rating, "NR" to indicate that the company is listed but no ratings are provided, and "NF" to indicate that no Moody's rating was found for the security.

Finding Credit Ratings on the S&P Website
Finding credit ratings for a specific company on the Standard & Poor's website is a real challenge. The first thing you must do to use the S&P website is register. After registering during your first visit, you must log in each and every time you visit the site so make sure that you note down the password you used in registering. After logging in, you can proceed to look for the latest ratings for securities. In general, the current S&P website is not especially user friendly but is a considerable improvement over their previous rating search system.

To find S&P ratings, you log in to the S&P website which will take you to their Credit Ratings Search page. The most useful search in the Quick Search by Organization Name. To use this search, input one or two words from the security issuer's name (Citigroup, General Motors, etc.) in the box below the Organization Name box and click on the Submit button. This will generally produce a list of issuers for the words you submitted. Select the correct issuer (use the QuantumOnline Security description to identify the correct issuer) and then click on that issuer's listing. Now under the Issue Ratings heading, click on the More after the xx Additional Matches to see the complete list of all individual issues. The individual issue list does not necessarily include all issues that the issuer has on the market but that's all there is. Now you search through the list (including the additional pages of 20 securities per page) for the security you are looking for.

Standard & Poor's investment grade ratings in order from the highest to the lowest are: AAA, AA+, AA, AA-, A+, A, A-, BBB+, BBB and BBB-. Standard & Poor's non-investment grade ratings in order from the highest to the lowest are: BB+, BB, BB-, B+, B, B-, CCC+, CCC, CCC- CC, C, D and SD. QuantumOnline has used two additional notations for S&P ratings: "NR" to indicate that the company is listed but no ratings are provided, and "NF" to indicate that no S&P rating was found for the security.

Emailing S&P for Ratings - Another option for the individual investor needing current S&P ratings on securities is to email a request directly to S&P. You can send a e-mail list of five stocks (including preferreds) to: ratings_request@standardandpoors.com with name of stock, symbol, and cusip number (from QuantumOnline) - as many times and as often as you wish. Return service is free and usually overnight. As QuantumOnline uses the same ticker symbol system as S&P just use the QuantumOnline ticker symbol for the security to avoid confusion.

S&P Credit Rating Definitions

S&P says the following about their credit ratings:
An S&P corporate or municipal debt rating is a current assessment of the creditworthiness of an obligor with respect to a specific obligation. This assessment may take into consideration obligors such as guarantors, insurers or lessees. The debt rating is not a recommendation to purchase, sell or hold a security, inasmuch as it does not comment as to market price or suitability for a particular investor. The ratings are based on current information furnished by the issuer or obtained by S&P from other sources it considers reliable. S&P does not perform an audit in connection with any rating and may, on occasion, rely on unaudited financial information. The ratings may be changed, suspended or withdrawn as a result of changes in, or unavailability of, such information, or based on other circumstances.

The ratings are based, in varying degrees, on the following considerations:
1. Likelihood of default--capacity and willingness of the obligor as to the timely payment of interest and repayment of principal in accordance with the terms of the obligation;
2. Nature of and provisions of the obligation; and
3. Protection afforded by, and relative position of, the obligation in the event of bankruptcy, reorganization, or other arrangement under the laws of bankruptcy and other laws affecting creditors' rights.

STANDARD & POOR'S CORPORATION -- A brief description of the applicable Standard & Poor's Corporation ("S&P") rating symbols and their meanings (as published by S&P) follows:

LONG-TERM DEBT
An S&P corporate or municipal debt rating is a current assessment of the creditworthiness of an obligor with respect to a specific obligation. This assessment may take into consideration obligors such as guarantors, insurers or lessees. The debt rating is not a recommendation to purchase, sell or hold a security, inasmuch as it does not comment as to market price or suitability for a particular investor. The ratings are based on current information furnished by the issuer or obtained by S&P from other sources it considers reliable. S&P does not perform an audit in connection with any rating and may, on occasion, rely on unaudited financial information. The ratings may be changed, suspended or withdrawn as a result of changes in, or unavailability of, such information, or based on other circumstances.

The ratings are based, in varying degrees, on the following considerations:
1. Likelihood of default--capacity and willingness of the obligor as to the timely payment of interest and repayment of principal in accordance with the terms of the obligation;
2. Nature of and provisions of the obligation; and
3. Protection afforded by, and relative position of, the obligation in the event of bankruptcy, reorganization, or other arrangement under the laws of bankruptcy and other laws affecting creditors' rights.

INVESTMENT GRADE
AAA - Debt rated "AAA" has the highest rating assigned by S&P. Capacity to pay interest and repay principal is extremely strong.
AA - Debt rated "AA" has a very strong capacity to pay interest and repay principal and differs from the highest rated issues only in small degree.
A - Debt rated "A" has a strong capacity to pay interest and repay principal although it is somewhat more susceptible to the adverse effects of changes in circumstances and economic conditions than debt in higher rated categories.
BBB - Debt rated "BBB" is regarded as having an adequate capacity to pay interest and repay principal. Whereas it normally exhibits adequate protection parameters, adverse economic conditions or changing circumstances are more likely to lead to a weakened capacity to pay interest and repay principal for debt in this category than in higher rated categories.

SPECULATIVE GRADE RATING
Debt rated "BB", "B", "CCC", "CC" and "C" is regarded as having predominantly speculative characteristics with respect to capacity to pay interest and repay principal. "BB" indicates the least degree of speculation and "C" the highest. While such debt will likely have some quality and protective characteristics these are outweighed by major uncertainties or major exposures to adverse conditions.
BB - Debt rated "BB" has less near-term vulnerability to default than other speculative issues. However, it faces major ongoing uncertainties or exposure to adverse business, financial, or economic conditions which could lead to inadequate capacity to meet timely interest and principal payments. The "BB" rating category is also used for debt subordinated to senior debt that is assigned an actual or implied "BBB" rating.
B - Debt rated "B" has a greater vulnerability to default but currently has the capacity to meet interest payments and principal repayments. Adverse business, financial, or economic conditions will likely impair capacity or willingness to pay interest and repay principal. The "B" rating category is also used for debt subordinated to senior debt that is assigned an actual or implied "BB" or "BB" rating.
CCC - Debt rated "CCC" has a currently identifiable vulnerability to default, and is dependent upon favorable business, financial, and economic conditions to meet timely payment of interest and repayment of principal. In the event of adverse business, financial, or economic conditions, it is not likely to have the capacity to pay interest and repay principal. The "CCC" rating category is also used for debt subordinated to senior debt that is assigned an actual or implied "B" or "B" rating.
CC - The rating "CC" typically is applied to debt subordinated to senior debt that is assigned an actual or implied "CCC" debt rating.
C - The rating "C" typically is applied to debt subordinated to senior debt which is assigned an actual or implied "CCC" debt rating. The "C" rating may be used to cover a situation where a bankruptcy petition has been filed, but debt service payments are continued.
CI - The rating "CI" is reserved for income bonds on which no interest is being paid.
D - Debt rated "D" is in payment default. The "D" rating category is used when interest payments or principal payments are not made on the date due even if the applicable grace period has not expired, unless S&P believes that such payments will be made during such grace period. The "D" rating also will be used upon the filing of a bankruptcy petition if debt service payments are jeopardized.

Plus (+) or Minus (-): The ratings from "AA" to "CCC" may be modified by the addition of a plus or minus sign to show relative standing within the major rating categories.
NR - Indicates no rating has been requested, that there is insufficient information on which to base a rating, or that S&P does not rate a particular type of obligation as a matter of policy.

Moody's Credit Rating Definitions

A brief description of the applicable Moody's Investors Service, Inc. ("Moody's") rating symbols and their meanings (as published by Moody's) follows:

The following summarizes the ratings used by Moody's for corporate and municipal long-term debt:

Aaa - Bonds are judged to be of the best quality. They carry the smallest degree of investment risk and are generally referred to as "gilt edged." Interest payments are protected by a large or by an exceptionally stable margin and principal is secure. While the various protective elements are likely to change, such changes as can be visualized are most unlikely to impair the fundamentally strong position of such issuer.
Aa - Bonds are judged to be of high quality by all standards. Together with the "Aaa" group they comprise what are generally known as high-grade bonds. They are rated lower than the best bonds because margins of protection may not be as large as in "Aaa" securities or fluctuation of protective elements may be of greater amplitude or there may be other elements present which make the long-term risks appear somewhat larger than in "Aaa" securities.
A - Bonds possess many favorable investment attributes and are to be considered as upper medium-grade obligations. Factors giving security to principal and interest are considered adequate but elements may be present which suggest a susceptibility to impairment sometime in the future.
Baa - Bonds considered medium-grade obligations, i.e., they are neither highly protected nor poorly secured. Interest payments and principal security appear adequate for the present but certain protective elements may be lacking or may be characteristically unreliable over any great length of time. Such bonds lack outstanding investment characteristics and in fact have speculative characteristics as well.

Ba, B, Caa, Ca, and C
Bonds that possess one of these ratings provide questionable protection of interest and principal ("Ba" indicates some speculative elements; "B" indicates a general lack of characteristics of desirable investment; "Caa" represents a poor standing; "Ca" represents obligations which are speculative in a high degree; and "C" represents the lowest rated class of bonds). "Caa", "Ca" and "C" bonds may be in default.

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