No. of Recommendations: 2
Ben,

My quick impression is that M*’s new bond toy is eye-candy, not yet a serious research tool. Specifically, the price quotes are stale/inaccurate and the estimates of credit quality seem haphazardous. However, M* is nothing if not aggressive about providing analysis and rankings, so, in time, the feature should become useful.

As a “chartist”, I’m glad to see them move in the direction of pictures, rather than just numbers. The tool is “beta”, and at the bottom of the page Morningstar solicits feedback. So some nudging from users could move them to make needed changes/additions.

Specifically, I’d like them to spell out what they intend to mean by the various credit-quality rankings they attach to an issuer’s specific issues. E.g., AMD’s currently-offered bonds carry a B- rating from S&P, but M* ranks their 5.75’s of ’12 as “Low” and their 6’s of ’15 and 7.75’s of ’12 as “Middle”. Why the differences?

Also, they rank both Microsoft’s and GE’s bonds as being of “High” quality. BRRZK! Wrong. There are huge differences between the two, as the green ink that paints MSFT’s financial ratios suggest and the red ink that paints GE’s. One of them truly is a financially strong company. The other is in serious trouble.

It will take some poking around to discover the strengths and weaknesses of the new feature. But kudos to you for linking it.
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