Understanding Ratings

Long-Term Credit Ratings

Kroll Bond Rating Agency (KBRA) assigns credit ratings to issuers and their obligations using the same rating scale. In either case, KBRA's ratings are intended to reflect both the probability of default and severity of loss in the event of default, with greater emphasis on probability of default at higher rating categories. For obligations, the determination of expected loss severity is, among other things, a function of the seniority of the claim. Generally speaking, issuer-level ratings assume a loss severity consistent with a senior unsecured claim. KBRA appends an (sf) indicator to ratings assigned to structured obligations. These definitions should be used in conjunction with KBRA's rating methodologies.

A downloadable version of our Rating Scales and Services can be accessed here.

AAADetermined to have almost no risk of loss due to credit-related events. Assigned only to the very highest quality obligors and obligations able to survive extremely challenging economic events.
AADetermined to have minimal risk of loss due to credit-related events. Such obligors and obligations are deemed very high quality.
ADetermined to be of high quality with a small risk of loss due to credit-related events. Issuers and obligations in this category are expected to weather difficult times with low credit losses.
BBBDetermined to be of medium quality with some risk of loss due to credit-related events. Such issuers and obligations may experience credit losses during stressed environments.
BBDetermined to be of low quality with moderate risk of loss due to credit-related events. Such issuers and obligations have fundamental weaknesses that create moderate credit risk.
BDetermined to be of very low quality with high risk of loss due to credit-related events. These issuers and obligations contain many fundamental shortcomings that create significant credit risk.
CCCDetermined to be at substantial risk of loss due to credit-related events, near default, or in default with high recovery expectations.
CCDetermined to be near default or in default with average recovery expectations.
CDetermined to be near default or in default with low recovery expectations.
DKBRA defines default as occurring if:
  1. There is a missed interest payment, principal payment, or preferred dividend payment, as applicable, on a rated obligation which is unlikely to be recovered.
  2. The rated entity files for protection from creditors, is placed into receivership, or is closed by regulators such that a missed payment is likely to result.
  3. The rated entity seeks and completes a distressed exchange, where existing rated obligations are replaced by new obligations with a diminished economic value.

KBRA may append - or + modifiers to ratings in categories AA through CCC to indicate, respectively, upper and lower risk levels within the broader category.

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