A list companies don't want to make

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TEXT OF STORY

Steve Chiotakis: Credit ratings agency Moody's is publishing a list today of what it feels is "The Bottom Rung." It details almost 300 companies Moody's says are most likely to default on their debts. Needless to say, it's not the kind of list a company wants to make. Here's Ashley Milne-Tyte.


Ashley Milne-Tyte: Traditionally, the three main ratings agencies only rated companies with a low likelihood of defaulting on their debt. So the fact that Moody's is now publishing a list of companies in trouble is odd, says Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analytics.

Christopher Whalen: It's a little bit sensational. When I see something called "The Bottom Rung," it looks like the sort of thing one pitches to hedge funds who are gonna go out and try to sell the stock of these poor companies before they expire.

Moody's has been criticized for over-rating bonds that turned out to be subprime, and contributing to the financial crisis. Whalen says this move could be seen as pre-empting another mistake. But he says it's more likely Moody's is just following the bearish herd.

Whalen: You know, I think what they are doing is what everyone else is doing, which is noticing that the market's weak and many companies are under stress.

Some companies on the list, like Kodak, say they don't deserve to be there. Other names on Moody's bottom rung are GM, clothing company Quiksilver and entertainment company MGM Mirage.

In New York, I'm Ashley Milne-Tyte for Marketplace.

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