Fitch Rating Terms


Long-Term Rating Scales
Issuer Credit Rating Scales

Rated entities in a number of sectors, including financial and non-financial corporations, sovereigns and insurance companies, are generally assigned Issuer Default Ratings (IDRs).  IDRs opine on an entity’s relative vulnerability to default on financial obligations.  The "threshold" default risk addressed by the IDR is generally that of the financial obligations whose non-payment would best reflect the uncured failure of that entity.  As such, IDRs also address relative vulnerability to bankruptcy, administrative receivership or similar concepts, although the agency recognizes that issuers may also make pre-emptive and therefore voluntary use of such mechanisms.  In aggregate, IDRs provide an ordinal ranking of issuers based on the agency’s view of their relative vulnerability to default, rather than a prediction of a specific percentage likelihood of default

AAA: Highest credit quality. ‘AAA’ ratings denote the lowest expectation of default risk.  They are assigned only in cases of exceptionally strong capacity for payment of financial commitments.  This capacity is highly unlikely to be adversely affected by foreseeable events. 

AA: Very high credit quality.  ‘AA’ ratings denote expectations of very low default risk.  They indicate very strong capacity for payment of financial commitments.  This capacity is not significantly vulnerable to foreseeable events. 

A: High credit quality.  ‘A’ ratings denote expectations of low default risk.  The capacity for payment of financial commitments is considered strong.  This capacity may, nevertheless, be more vulnerable to adverse business or economic conditions than is the case for higher ratings. 

BBB: Good credit quality.  ‘BBB’ ratings indicate that expectations of default risk are currently low.  The capacity for payment of financial commitments is considered adequate but adverse business or economic conditions are more likely to impair this capacity. 

BB: Speculative.  ‘BB’ ratings indicate an elevated vulnerability to default risk, particularly in the event of adverse changes in business or economic conditions over time; however, business or financial flexibility exists which supports the servicing of financial commitments. 

B: Highly speculative.  ‘B’ ratings indicate that material default risk is present, but a limited margin of safety remains.  Financial commitments are currently being met; however, capacity for continued payment is vulnerable to deterioration in the business and economic environment. 

CCC: Substantial credit risk.  Default is a real possibility. 

CC: Very high levels of credit risk.  Default of some kind appears probable. 

C: Exceptionally high levels of credit risk Default is imminent or inevitable, or the issuer is in standstill.  Conditions that are indicative of a ‘C’ category rating for an issuer include:

  1. the issuer has entered into a grace or cure period following non-payment of a material financial obligation;
  2. the issuer has entered into a temporary negotiated waiver or standstill agreement following a payment default on a material financial obligation; or
  3. Fitch Ratings otherwise believes a condition of ‘RD’ or ‘D’ to be imminent or inevitable, including through the formal announcement of a distressed debt exchange. 

RD: Restricted default.  ‘RD’ ratings indicate an issuer that in Fitch Ratings’ opinion has experienced an uncured payment default on a bond, loan or other material financial obligation but which has not entered into bankruptcy filings, administration, receivership, liquidation or other formal winding-up procedure, and which has not otherwise ceased operating.  This would include:

  1. the selective payment default on a specific class or currency of debt;
  2. the uncured expiry of any applicable grace period, cure period or default forbearance period following a payment default on a bank loan, capital markets security or other material financial obligation;
  3. the extension of multiple waivers or forbearance periods upon a payment default on one or more material financial obligations, either in series or in parallel; or
  4. execution of a distressed debt exchange on one or more material financial obligations. 

D: Default.  ‘D’ ratings indicate an issuer that in Fitch Ratings’ opinion has entered into bankruptcy filings, administration, receivership, liquidation or other formal winding-up procedure, or which has otherwise ceased business. 
Default ratings are not assigned prospectively to entities or their obligations; within this context, non-payment on an instrument that contains a deferral feature or grace period will generally not be considered a default until after the expiration of the deferral or grace period, unless a default is otherwise driven by bankruptcy or other similar circumstance, or by a distressed debt exchange.
"Imminent" default typically refers to the occasion where a payment default has been intimated by the issuer, and is all but inevitable. This may, for example, be where an issuer has missed a scheduled payment, but (as is typical) has a grace period during which it may cure the payment default. Another alternative would be where an issuer has formally announced a distressed debt exchange, but the date of the exchange still lies several days or weeks in the immediate future.
In all cases, the assignment of a default rating reflects the agency’s opinion as to the most appropriate rating category consistent with the rest of its universe of ratings, and may differ

Note: The modifiers "+" or "-" may be appended to a rating to denote relative status within major rating categories.  Such suffixes are not added to the 'AAA' Long-Term IDR category, or to Long-Term IDR categories below 'B'. 

For more information, please see Definitions of Ratings and Other Forms of Opinion.


Top


Short-Term Ratings
A short-term issuer or obligation rating is based in all cases on the short-term vulnerability to default of the rated entity or security stream and relates to the capacity to meet financial obligations in accordance with the documentation governing the relevant obligation. Short-Term Ratings are assigned to obligations whose initial maturity is viewed as “short term” based on market convention. Typically, this means up to 13 months for corporate, sovereign, and structured obligations, and up to 36 months for obligations in U.S. public finance markets.

F1: Highest short-term credit quality. Indicates the strongest intrinsic capacity for timely payment of financial commitments; may have an added “+” to denote any exceptionally strong credit feature.

F2: Good short-term credit quality. Good intrinsic capacity for timely payment of financial commitments.

F3: Fair short-term credit quality. The intrinsic capacity for timely payment of financial commitments is adequate.

B: Speculative short-term credit quality. Minimal capacity for timely payment of financial commitments, plus heightened vulnerability to near term adverse changes in financial and economic conditions.

C: High short-term default risk. Default is a real possibility.

RD: Restricted default. Indicates an entity that has defaulted on one or more of its financial commitments, although it continues to meet other financial obligations. Applicable to entity ratings only.

D: Default. Indicates a broad-based default event for an entity, or the default of a short-term obligation.

Top


Bank Individual Ratings
Individual Ratings are assigned to banks that are legal entities. The term "banks" here includes bank holding companies and bancassurance holding companies, bancassurance companies operating as single legal entities, investment banks and private banks. These ratings may also be assigned to leasing companies, installment credit companies, credit card companies, brokerage houses, investment management companies and securities dealing companies, as circumstances demand. These ratings, which are internationally comparable, attempt to assess how a bank would be viewed if it were entirely independent and could not rely on external support. These ratings are designed to assess a bank's exposure to, appetite for, and management of risk, and thus represent the agency's view on the likelihood that it would run into significant financial difficulties such that it would require support.

A: A very strong bank. Characteristics may include outstanding profitability and balance sheet integrity, franchise, management, operating environment or prospects.

B: A strong bank. There are no major concerns regarding the bank. Characteristics may include strong profitability and balance sheet integrity, franchise, management, operating environment or prospects.

C: An adequate bank, which, however, possesses one or more troublesome aspects. There may be some concerns regarding its profitability and balance sheet integrity, franchise, management, operating environment or prospects.

D: A bank that has weaknesses of internal and/or external origin. There are concerns regarding its profitability and balance sheet integrity, franchise, management, operating environment or prospects. Banks in emerging markets are necessarily faced with a greater number of potential deficiencies of external origin.

E: A bank with very serious problems, which either requires or is likely to require external support.

F: A bank that has either defaulted or, in Fitch Ratings' opinion, would have defaulted if it had not received external support. Examples of such support include state or local government support, (deposit) insurance funds, acquisition by some other corporate entity or an injection of new funds from its shareholders or equivalent.

Note: Gradations may be used among the ratings A to E: i.e. A/B, B/C, C/D, and D/E. No gradations apply to the F rating.

Top


Bank Support Ratings
The Purpose and Function of Support Ratings Support Ratings are Fitch Ratings' assessment of a potential supporter's propensity to support a bank and of its ability to support it. Its propensity to support is a judgment made by Fitch Ratings. Its ability to support is set by the potential supporter's own Issuer Default Ratings, both in foreign currency and, where appropriate, in local currency. Support Ratings do not assess the intrinsic credit quality of a bank. Rather they communicate the agency's judgment on whether the bank would receive support should this become necessary. These ratings are exclusively the expression of Fitch Ratings' opinion even though the principles underlying them may have been discussed with the relevant supervisory authorities and/or owners. Timeliness and Effectiveness Requirements Fitch Ratings' Support Rating definitions are predicated on the assumption that any necessary "support" is provided on a timely basis. The definitions are also predicated on the assumption that any necessary support will be sufficiently sustained so that the bank being supported is able to continue meeting its financial commitments until the crisis is over. Obligations and Financial Instruments Covered In terms of these definitions, unless otherwise specified, "support" is deemed to be in terms of foreign currency. It is assumed that typically the following obligations will be supported: senior debt (secured and unsecured), including insured and uninsured deposits (retail, wholesale and interbank); obligations arising from derivatives transactions and from legally enforceable guarantees and indemnities, letters of credit, and acceptances; trade receivables and obligations arising from court judgments. Likewise, the agency does not assume that the following capital instruments will be supported when sovereign support is involved: preference/preferred shares or stock; hybrid capital (tier 1 and upper tier 2), including reserve capital instruments (RCIs) and variations upon RCIs; and common/ordinary equity capital. It is also assumed that there will be no support for any moral obligation on securitizations. The sovereign support status of subordinated debt is difficult to categorize in advance; it is assessed on a case by case basis, distinguishing among different jurisdictions. Definitions:

1: A bank for which there is an extremely high probability of external support. The potential provider of support is very highly rated in its own right and has a very high propensity to support the bank in question. This probability of support indicates a minimum Long-Term Rating floor of 'A-'.

2: A bank for which there is a high probability of external support. The potential provider of support is highly rated in its own right and has a high propensity to provide support to the bank in question. This probability of support indicates a minimum Long-Term Rating floor of 'BBB-'.

3: A bank for which there is a moderate probability of support because of uncertainties about the ability or propensity of the potential provider of support to do so. This probability of support indicates a minimum Long-Term Rating floor of 'BB-'.

4: A bank for which there is a limited probability of support because of significant uncertainties about the ability or propensity of any possible provider of support to do so. This probability of support indicates a minimum Long-Term Rating floor of 'B'.

5: A bank for which there is a possibility of external support, but it cannot be relied upon. This may be due to a lack of propensity to provide support or to very weak financial ability to do so. This probability of support indicates a Long- Term Rating floor no higher than 'B-' and in many cases, no floor at all.

Top


Support Rating Floor
Support Rating Floors are directly derived from the agency's Support Ratings in those cases where the Support Rating is based on potential sovereign support. In exactly the same way as the Support Rating itself, the Support Rating Floor is based on the agency's judgment of a potential supporter's propensity to support a bank and of its ability to support it. Support Rating Floors do not assess the intrinsic credit quality of a bank. Rather they communicate the agency's judgment on whether the bank would receive support should this become necessary. It is emphasized that these ratings are exclusively the expression of Fitch Ratings' opinion even though the principles underlying them may have been discussed with the relevant supervisory authorities.

The Support Rating Floor is expressed on the 'AAA' long-term scale and will clearly indicate the level below which the agency would not expect to lower its Issuer Default Rating in the absence of any changes to the assumptions underpinning the bank's Support Rating. In addition to the 'AAA' scale, there will be one additional point on the scale -- "No Floor" (NF) -- which indicates that in the agency's opinion, there is no reasonable presumption of potential support being forthcoming. In practice this approximates to a probability of support of less than 40%.

Top


Bank Viability Ratings
Viability ratings (VRs) are designed to be internationally comparable and represent Fitch's view as to the intrinsic creditworthiness of an issuer. Together with the agency's support ratings framework, the VR is a key component of a bank's Issuer Default Rating (IDR) and considers various factors including:
  • Industry profile and operating environment
  • Company profile and risk management
  • Financial profile
  • Management strategy and corporate governance.
VRs are assigned to bank operating companies, bank holding companies and in limited cases, to similar legal entities where it is considered useful to clarify the source of an entity's financial strength. Notably, the VR excludes any extraordinary support that may be derived from outside of the entity as well as excluding potential benefits to a bank's financial position from other extraordinary measures, including a distressed restructuring of liabilities. Specifically, Fitch would normally regard the following as indicative of a bank failing or becoming non-viable:
  • Defaulting on senior obligations
  • Entering a resolution regime, bankruptcy, administrative receivership or similar statutory process,
  • Triggering non-viability clauses embedded in regulatory (or other) capital instruments,
  • Execution of a distressed debt exchange as defined by Fitch's criteria,
  • Receipt of extraordinary support such that a default or other event of non-viability is avoided.
VRs represent not only the capacity of a rated entity to meet its obligations in the absence of extraordinary support but also in the absence of extraordinary constraints (eg, transfer and convertibility risk). As such, VRs represent the capacity of the bank to maintain ongoing operations and to avoid failure, the latter being indicated by extraordinary and company specific measures becoming necessary to protect against a bank's default.

aaa: Highest fundamental credit quality 'aaa' ratings denote the best prospects for ongoing viability and lowest expectation of failure risk. They are assigned only to banks with extremely strong and stable fundamental characteristics, such that they are most unlikely to have to rely on extraordinary support to avoid default. This capacity is highly unlikely to be adversely affected by foreseeable events.

aa: Very high fundamental credit quality 'aa' ratings denote very strong prospects for ongoing viability. Fundamental characteristics are very strong and stable; such that it is considered highly unlikely that the bank would have to rely on extraordinary support to avoid default. This capacity is not significantly vulnerable to foreseeable events.

a: High fundamental credit quality 'a' ratings denote strong prospects for ongoing viability. Fundamental characteristics are strong and stable, such that it is unlikely that the bank would have to rely on extraordinary support to avoid default. This capacity may, nevertheless, be more vulnerable to adverse business or economic conditions than is the case for higher ratings.

bbb: Good fundamental credit quality 'bbb' ratings denote good prospects for ongoing viability. The bank's fundamentals are adequate, such that there is a low risk that it would have to rely on extraordinary support to avoid default. However, adverse business or economic conditions are more likely to impair this capacity.

bb: Speculative fundamental credit quality 'bb' ratings denote moderate prospects for ongoing viability. A moderate degree of fundamental financial strength exists, which would have to be eroded before the bank would have to rely on extraordinary support to avoid default. However, an elevated vulnerability exists to adverse changes in business or economic conditions over time.

b: Highly speculative fundamental credit quality 'b' ratings denote weak prospects for ongoing viability. Material failure risk is present but a limited margin of safety remains. The bank's capacity for continued unsupported operation is vulnerable to deterioration in the business and economic environment.

ccc: Substantial fundamental credit risk Failure of the bank is a real possibility. The capacity for continued unsupported operation is highly vulnerable to deterioration in the business and economic environment.

cc Very high levels of fundamental credit risk Failure of the bank appears probable.

c: Exceptionally high levels of fundamental credit risk Failure of the bank is imminent or inevitable.

f 'f' ratings indicate an issuer that, in Fitch's opinion, has failed, and that either has defaulted or would have defaulted had it not received extraordinary support or benefited from other extraordinary measures.

Note: The modifiers "+" or "." may be appended to a rating to denote relative status within major rating categories. Such suffixes are not added to the 'aaa' VR category or to VR categories below 'b'. Outlooks are not assigned to VRs although at any point in time, a bank's position and prospects may have underlying trends, for example improving, deteriorating or stable.

Top


Insurer Financial Strength Rating Definitions
Insurer Financial Strength Rating Definitions The Insurer Financial Strength (IFS) Rating provides an assessment of the financial strength of an insurance organization. The IFS Rating is assigned to the insurance company's policyholder obligations, including assumed reinsurance obligations and contract holder obligations, such as guaranteed investment contracts. The IFS Rating reflects both the ability of the insurer to meet these obligations on a timely basis, and expected recoveries received by claimants in the event the insurer stops making payments or payments are interrupted, due to either the failure of the insurer or some form of regulatory intervention. In the context of the IFS Rating, the timeliness of payments is considered relative to both contract and/or policy terms but also recognizes the possibility of reasonable delays caused by circumstances common to the insurance industry, including claims reviews, fraud investigations and coverage disputes.

The IFS Rating does not encompass policyholder obligations residing in separate accounts, unit-linked products or segregated funds, for which the policyholder bears investment or other risks. However, any guarantees provided to the policyholder with respect to such obligations are included in the IFS Rating. Expected recoveries are based on the agency's assessments of the sufficiency of an insurance company's assets to fund policyholder obligations, in a scenario in which payments have ceased or been interrupted. Accordingly, expected recoveries exclude the impact of recoveries obtained from any government sponsored guaranty or policyholder protection funds. Expected recoveries also exclude the impact of collateralization or security, such as letters of credit or trusteed assets, supporting select reinsurance obligations.

IFS Ratings can be assigned to insurance and reinsurance companies in any insurance sector, including the life & annuity, non-life, property/casualty, health, mortgage, financial guaranty, residual value and title insurance sectors, as well as to managed care companies such as health maintenance organizations. The IFS Rating does not address the quality of an insurer's claims handling services or the relative value of products sold.

The IFS Rating uses the same symbols used by the agency for its International and National credit ratings of long-term or short-term debt issues. However, the definitions associated with the ratings reflect the unique aspects of the IFS Rating within an insurance industry context.

Obligations for which a payment interruption has occurred due to either the insolvency or failure of the insurer or some form of regulatory intervention will generally be rated between 'B' and 'C' on the Long-Term IFS Rating scales (both International and National). International Short-Term IFS Ratings assigned under the same circumstances will align with the insurer's International Long-Term IFS Rating.


Long-Term International IFS Ratings
The following rating scale applies to foreign currency and local currency ratings. Ratings of 'BBB-' and higher are considered "secure", and those of 'BB+' and lower are considered "vulnerable".

AAA: Exceptionally strong. 'AAA' IFS Ratings denote the lowest expectation of ceased or interrupted payments. They are assigned only in the case of exceptionally strong capacity to meet policyholder and contract obligations. This capacity is highly unlikely to be adversely affected by foreseeable events.

AA: Very strong. 'AA' IFS Ratings denote a very low expectation of ceased or interrupted payments. They indicate very strong capacity to meet policyholder and contract obligations. This capacity is not significantly vulnerable to foreseeable events.

A: Strong. 'A' IFS Ratings denote a low expectation of ceased or interrupted payments. They indicate strong capacity to meet policyholder and contract obligations. This capacity may, nonetheless, be more vulnerable to changes in circumstances or in economic conditions than is the case for higher ratings.

BBB: Good. 'BBB' IFS Ratings indicate that there is currently a low expectation of ceased or interrupted payments. The capacity to meet policyholder and contract obligations on a timely basis is considered adequate, but adverse changes in circumstances and economic conditions are more likely to impact this capacity.

BB: Moderately weak. 'BB' IFS Ratings indicate that there is an elevated vulnerability to ceased or interrupted payments, particularly as the result of adverse economic or market changes over time. However, business or financial alternatives may be available to allow for policyholder and contract obligations to be met in a timely manner.

B: Weak. 'B' IFS Ratings indicate two possible conditions. If obligations are still being met on a timely basis, there is significant risk that ceased or interrupted payments could occur in the future, but a limited margin of safety remains. Capacity for continued timely payments is contingent upon a sustained, favorable business and economic environment, and favorable market conditions. Alternatively, a 'B' IFS Rating is assigned to obligations that have experienced ceased or interrupted payments, but with the potential for extremely high recoveries. Such obligations would possess a recovery assessment of 'RR1' (Outstanding).

CCC: Very weak. 'CCC' IFS Ratings indicate two possible conditions. If obligations are still being met on a timely basis, there is a real possibility that ceased or interrupted payments could occur in the future. Capacity for continued timely payments is solely reliant upon a sustained, favorable business and economic environment, and favorable market conditions. Alternatively, a 'CCC' IFS Rating is assigned to obligations that have experienced ceased or interrupted payments, and with the potential for average to superior recoveries. Such obligations would possess a recovery assessment of 'RR2' (Superior), 'RR3' (Good), and 'RR4' (Average).

CC: Extremely weak. 'CC' IFS Ratings indicate two possible conditions. If obligations are still being met on a timely basis, it is probable that ceased or interrupted payments will occur in the future. Alternatively, a 'CC' IFS Rating is assigned to obligations that have experienced ceased or interrupted payments, with the potential for average to below-average recoveries. Such obligations would possess a recovery assessment of 'RR4' (Average) or 'RR5' (Below Average).

C: Distressed 'C' IFS Ratings indicate two possible conditions. If obligations are still being met on a timely basis, ceased or interrupted payments are imminent. Alternatively, a 'C' IFS Rating is assigned to obligations that have experienced ceased or interrupted payments, and with the potential for below average to poor recoveries. Such obligations would possess a recovery assessment of 'RR5' (Below Average) or 'RR6' (Poor).

Notes: "+" or "-" may be appended to a rating to indicate the relative position of a credit within the rating category. Such suffixes are not added to ratings in the 'AAA' category or to ratings below the 'B' category.

Top


Short-Term IFS Ratings
A Short-Term Insurer Financial Strength Rating (ST-IFS Rating) provides an assessment of the near-term financial health of an insurance organization, and its capacity to meet senior obligations to policyholders and contract-holders that would be expected to be due within one year. The analysis supporting the ST-IFS Rating encompasses all of the factors considered within the context of the IFS Rating, but with greater weighting given to an insurer's near-term liquidity, financial flexibility and regulatory solvency characteristics, and less weight given to longer-term issues such as competitiveness and earnings trends.

The agency will only assign a ST-IFS Rating to insurers that also have been assigned an IFS Rating. Currently, ST-IFS Ratings are used primarily by U.S. life insurance companies that sell short-term funding agreements.

The ST-IFS Rating uses the same international ratings scale used by the agency for short-term debt and issuer ratings.

F1 Insurers are viewed as having a strong capacity to meet their near-term obligations. When an insurer rated in this rating category is designated with a (+) sign, it is viewed as having a very strong capacity to meet near-term obligations.

F2 Insurers are viewed as having a good capacity to meet their near-term obligations.

F3 Insurers are viewed as having an adequate capacity to meet their near-term obligations.

B Insurers are viewed as having a weak capacity to meet their near-term obligations.

C Insurers are viewed as having a very weak capacity to meet their near-term obligations.

Top


National Credit Ratings
For those countries in which foreign and local currency sovereign ratings are below 'AAA', and where there is demand for such ratings, Fitch Ratings will provide National Ratings. It is important to note that each National Rating scale is unique and is defined to serve the needs of the local market in question.

The National Rating scale provides a relative measure of creditworthiness for rated entities only within the country concerned. Under this rating scale, an 'AAA' Long-Term National Rating will be assigned to the lowest relative risk within that country, which, in most but not all cases, will be the sovereign state. The National Rating scale merely ranks the degree of perceived risk relative to the lowest default risk in that same country. Like local currency ratings, National Ratings exclude the effects of sovereign and transfer risk and exclude the possibility that investors may be unable to repatriate any due interest and principal repayments. It is not related to the rating scale of any other national market. Comparisons between different national scales or between an individual national scale and the international rating scale are therefore inappropriate and potentially misleading. Consequently they are identified by the addition of a special identifier for the country concerned, such as 'AAA(arg)' for National Ratings in Argentina.

In certain countries, regulators have established credit rating scales, to be used within their domestic markets, using specific nomenclature. In these countries, the agency's National Rating definitions may be substituted by the regulatory scales. For instance Fitch's National Short Term Ratings of 'F1+(xxx)', 'F1(xxx)', 'F2(xxx)' and 'F3(xxx)' may be substituted by the regulatory scales, e.g. 'A1+', 'A1', 'A2' and 'A3'. The below definitions thus serve as a template, but users should consult the individual scales for each country listed on Fitch's regional websites to determine if any additional or alternative category definitions apply.


National Long-Term Credit Ratings

AAA(xxx) 'AAA' National Ratings denote the highest rating assigned by the agency in its National Rating scale for that country. This rating is assigned to issuers or obligations with the lowest expectation of default risk relative to all other issuers or obligations in the same country.

AA(xxx) 'AA' National Ratings denote expectations of very low default risk relative to other issuers or obligations in the same country. The default risk inherent differs only slightly from that of the country's highest rated issuers or obligations.

A(xxx) 'A' National Ratings denote expectations of low default risk relative to other issuers or obligations in the same country. However, changes in circumstances or economic conditions may affect the capacity for timely repayment to a greater degree than is the case for financial commitments denoted by a higher rated category.

BBB(xxx) 'BBB' National Ratings denote a moderate default risk relative to other issuers or obligations in the same country. However, changes in circumstances or economic conditions are more likely to affect the capacity for timely repayment than is the case for financial commitments denoted by a higher rated category.

BB(xxx) 'BB' National Ratings denote an elevated default risk relative to other issuers or obligations in the same country. Within the context of the country, payment is uncertain to some degree and capacity for timely repayment remains more vulnerable to adverse economic change over time.

B(xxx) 'B' National Ratings denote a significantly elevated default risk relative to other issuers or obligations in the same country. Financial commitments are currently being met but a limited margin of safety remains and capacity for continued timely payments is contingent upon a sustained, favorable business and economic environment. For individual obligations, this rating may indicate distressed or defaulted obligations with potential for extremely high recoveries.

CCC(xxx) 'CCC' National Ratings denote that default is a real possibility. Capacity for meeting financial commitments is solely reliant upon sustained, favorable business or economic conditions.

CC(xxx) 'CC' National Ratings denote that default of some kind appears probable.

C(xxx) 'C' National Ratings denote that default is imminent.

RD(xxx): Restricted default. 'RD' ratings indicate an issuer that in Fitch Ratings' opinion has experienced an uncured payment default on a bond, loan or other material financial obligation but which has not entered into bankruptcy filings, administration, receivership, liquidation or other formal winding-up procedure, and which has not otherwise ceased business. This would include:

  1. the selective payment default on a specific class or currency of debt;
  2. the uncured expiry of any applicable grace period, cure period or default forbearance period following a payment default on a bank loan, capital markets security or other material financial obligation;
  3. the extension of multiple waivers or forbearance periods upon a payment default on one or more material financial obligations, either in series or in parallel; or
  4. execution of a distressed debt exchange on one or more material financial obligations.

D(xxx) 'D' National Ratings denote an issuer or instrument that is currently in default.

Top


National Short-Term Credit Ratings

F1(xxx) Indicates the strongest capacity for timely payment of financial commitments relative to other issuers or obligations in the same country. Under the agency's National Rating scale, this rating is assigned to the lowest default risk relative to others in the same country. Where the liquidity profile is particularly strong, a "+" is added to the assigned rating.

F2(xxx) Indicates a good capacity for timely payment of financial commitments relative to other issuers or obligations in the same country. However, the margin of safety is not as great as in the case of the higher ratings.

F3(xxx) Indicates an adequate capacity for timely payment of financial commitments relative to other issuers or obligations in the same country. However, such capacity is more susceptible to near-term adverse changes than for financial commitments in higher rated categories.

B(xxx) Indicates an uncertain capacity for timely payment of financial commitments relative to other issuers or obligations in the same country. Such capacity is highly susceptible to near-term adverse changes in financial and economic conditions.

C(xxx) Indicates a highly uncertain capacity for timely payment of financial commitments relative to other issuers or obligations in the same country. Capacity for meeting financial commitments is solely reliant upon a sustained, favorable business and economic environment.

RD(xxx): Restricted default. Indicates an entity that has defaulted on one or more of its financial commitments, although it continues to meet other financial obligations. Applicable to entity ratings only.

D (xxx) Indicates actual or imminent payment default.

Notes to Long-Term and Short-Term National Ratings:
The ISO International Country Code is placed in parentheses immediately following the rating letters to indicate the identity of the National market within which the rating applies. For illustrative purposes, (xxx) has been used. "+" or "-" may be appended to a National Rating to denote relative status within a major rating category. Such suffixes are not added to the 'AAA(xxx)' Long-Term National Rating category, to categories below 'CCC(xxx)', or to Short-Term National Ratings other than 'F1(xxx)'.

Top


National Insurer Financial Strength Ratings
National IFS Ratings serve the needs of local insurance markets. National IFS Ratings are assigned to an insurer's policyholder obligations and are an assessment of relative financial strength. Consistent with other forms of National Ratings assigned by the agency, National IFS Ratings assess the ability of an insurer to meet policyholder and related obligations, relative to the "best" credit risk in a given country across all industries and obligation types. Comparisons between different countries' National IFS Rating scales or between an individual country's National IFS Rating scale and the International IFS Rating scale are inappropriate. National IFS Ratings are only assigned using the Long-Term scale, as defined below.

AAA(xxx) 'AAA' National IFS Ratings denote the highest rating assigned within the national scale for that country. The rating is assigned to the policyholder obligations of the insurance entities with the lowest credit risk relative to all other obligations or issuers in the same country, across all industries and obligation types.

AA(xxx) 'AA' National IFS Ratings denote a very strong capacity to meet policyholder obligations relative to all other obligations or issuers in the same country, across all industries and obligation types. The risk of ceased or interrupted payments differs only slightly from the country's highest rated obligations or issuers.

A(xxx) 'A' National IFS Ratings denote a strong capacity to meet policyholder obligations relative to all other obligations or issuers in the same country, across all industries and obligation types. However, changes in circumstances or economic conditions may affect the capacity for payment of policyholder obligations to a greater degree than for financial commitments denoted by a higher rated category.

BBB(xxx) 'BBB' National IFS Ratings denote an adequate capacity to meet policyholder obligations relative to all other obligations or issuers in the same country, across all industries and obligation types. However, changes in circumstances or economic conditions are more likely to affect the capacity for payment of policyholder obligations than for financial commitments denoted by a higher rated category.

BB(xxx) 'BB' National IFS Ratings denote a fairly weak capacity to meet policyholder obligations relative to all other obligations or issuers in the same country, across all industries and obligation types. Within the context of the country, payment of these policyholder obligations is uncertain to some degree and capacity for payment remains more vulnerable to adverse economic change over time.

B(xxx) 'B' National IFS Ratings denote two possible outcomes. If policyholder obligations are still being met on a timely basis, the rating implies a significantly weak capacity to continue to meet policyholder obligations relative to all other issues or issuers in the same country, across all industries and obligation types. A limited margin of safety remains and capacity for continued payments is contingent upon a sustained, favorable business and economic environment. Alternatively, a 'B' National IFS Rating is assigned to obligations that have experienced ceased or interrupted payments, but with the potential for extremely high recoveries.

CCC(xxx) 'CCC' National IFS Ratings denote two possible outcomes. If policyholder obligations are still being met on a timely basis, the rating implies ceased or interrupted payments are a real possibility. Capacity for continued payments is contingent upon a sustained, favorable business and economic environment. Alternatively, a 'CCC' National IFS Rating is assigned to obligations that have experienced ceased or interrupted payments, but with the potential for very high recoveries.

CC(xxx) 'CC' National IFS Ratings denote two possible outcomes. If policyholder obligations are still being met on a timely basis, the rating implies ceased or interrupted payments appear probable. Alternatively, a 'CC' National IFS Rating is assigned to obligations that have experienced ceased or interrupted payments, but with the potential for average to below-average recoveries.

'C'(xxx) 'C' National IFS Ratings denote two possible outcomes. If policyholder obligations are still being met on a timely basis, the rating implies ceased or interrupted payments are imminent. Alternatively, a 'C' National IFS Rating is assigned to obligations that have experienced ceased or interrupted payments with the potential for below-average to poor recoveries.

Notes: "+" or "-" are used with a rating symbol to indicate the relative position of a credit within the rating category. They are not used for the 'AAA' category or for ratings below the 'CCC' category. The ISO International Code is placed in parentheses immediately following the rating letters to indicate the identity of the National market within which the rating applies. For illustrative purposes, (xxx) has been used.

Top


Country Ceilings
Country Ceilings are expressed using the symbols of the long-term issuer scale described in A.1.1.1 and relate to sovereign jurisdictions also rated by Fitch Ratings on the Issuer Default Rating scale. They reflect the agency's judgment regarding the risk of capital and exchange controls being imposed by the sovereign authorities that would prevent or materially impede the private sector's ability to convert local currency into foreign currency and transfer to non-resident creditors - transfer and convertibility (T&C) risk. As such, they are not ratings, but expressions of a maximum limit for the foreign currency issuer ratings of most, but not all, issuers in a given country.

Given the close correlation between sovereign credit and T&C risks, the Country Ceiling may exhibit a greater degree of volatility than would normally be expected when it lies above the sovereign foreign currency rating.

Top


Rating Watch
Rating Watches indicate that there is a heightened probability of a rating change and the likely direction of such a change. These are designated as "Positive", indicating a potential upgrade, "Negative", for a potential downgrade, or "Evolving", if ratings may be raised, lowered or affirmed. However, ratings that are not on Rating Watch can be raised or lowered without being placed on Rating Watch first, if circumstances warrant such an action.

A Rating Watch is typically event-driven and, as such, it is generally resolved over a relatively short period. The event driving the Watch may be either anticipated or have already occurred, but in both cases, the exact rating implications remain undetermined. The Watch period is typically used to gather further information and/or subject the information to further analysis. Additionally, a Watch may be used where the rating implications are already clear, but where a triggering event (e.g. shareholder or regulatory approval) exists. The Watch will typically extend to cover the period until the triggering event is resolved or its outcome is predictable with a high enough degree of certainty to permit resolution of the Watch.

Rating Watches can be employed by all analytical groups and are applied to the ratings of individual entities and/or individual instruments. At the lowest categories of speculative grade ('CCC', 'CC' and 'C') the high volatility of credit profiles may imply that almost all ratings should carry a Watch. Watches are nonetheless only applied selectively in these categories, where a committee decides that particular events or threats are best communicated by the addition of the Watch designation.

Top


Rating Outlook
Rating Outlooks indicate the direction a rating is likely to move over a one- to two-year period. They reflect financial or other trends that have not yet reached the level that would trigger a rating action, but which may do so if such trends continue. The majority of Outlooks are generally Stable, which is consistent with the historical migration experience of ratings over a one- to two-year period. Positive or Negative rating Outlooks do not imply that a rating change is inevitable and, similarly, ratings with Stable Outlooks can be raised or lowered without a prior revision to the Outlook, if circumstances warrant such an action. Occasionally, where the fundamental trend has strong, conflicting elements of both positive and negative, the Rating Outlook may be described as Evolving.

Outlooks are currently applied on the long-term scale to issuer ratings in corporate finance (including sovereigns, industrials, utilities, financial institutions and insurance companies) and public finance outside the U.S.; to issue ratings in public finance in the U.S.; to certain issues in project finance; to Insurer Financial Strength Ratings; to issuer and/or issue ratings in a number of National Rating scales; and to the ratings of structured finance transactions. Outlooks are not applied to ratings assigned on the short-term scale and are applied selectively to ratings in the 'CCC', 'CC' and 'C' categories. Defaulted ratings typically do not carry an Outlook.

Deciding When to Assign Rating Watch or Outlook
Timing is informative but not critical to the choice of a Watch rather than an Outlook. A discrete event that is largely clear and the terms of which are defined, but which will not happen for more than six months ¡V such as a lengthy regulatory approval process ¡V would nonetheless likely see ratings placed on Watch rather than a revision to the

Outlook.
An Outlook revision may, however, be deemed more appropriate where a series of potential event risks has been identified, none of which individually warrants a Watch but which cumulatively indicate heightened probability of a rating change over the following one to two years.


Copyright © 2017 by CreditRiskMonitor.com (Ticker: CRMZ®). All rights reserved. Reproduction not allowed without express permission by CreditRiskMonitor. The information published above has been obtained from sources CreditRiskMonitor considers to be reliable. CreditRiskMonitor and its third-party suppliers do not guarantee the accuracy and completeness of the information and specifically do not assume responsibility for not reporting any information omitted or withheld. The FRISK® scores, agency ratings, credit limit recommendations and other scores, analysis and commentary are opinions of CreditRiskMonitor and/or its suppliers, not statements of fact, and should be one of several factors in making credit decisions. No warranties of results to be obtained, merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose are made concerning the CreditRiskMonitor Service. By using this website, you accept the Terms of Use Agreement.
Contact Us: 845.230.3000

Fundamental financial data concerning public companies may be provided by Thomson Reuters (click for restrictions)
Saturday, August 19, 2017