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Finance Dictionary and Glossary of Investment Terms
A company that publishes ratings for securities such as preferred stock and debt issues based on the likelihood of consistent and timely payments. These rankings are arrived at by looking at a variety of balance sheet data. Some rating services are very influential, and an upgrade or downgrade can affect their borrowing costs significantly.
A company, such as Moody's or Standard & Poor's, that rates various debt and preferred stock issues for safety of payment of principal, interest, or dividends.