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In your example (Alcoa's debt), Morningstar gives them a BB+ rating, whereas the three majors rate them Baa3/BBB-/BBB-, and I'd bet that it is Morningstar that has gotten it right, which is why that link can be so useful.

Sometime back, I compared a hundred so of Morningstar's ratings against those of the majors, and there wasn't much consistency. Mostly, M* agreed. Sometimes, they rated an issuer higher; sometimes, lower. But if I had to pick just one of the four (S&P, Moody's, Fitch, and Morningstar), I'd go with Morningstar.

The possible downside of trying to depend on their ratings is that they rate a narrower universe than then other three. However, they are also avoiding a lot of the more marginal issuers. So those who want an easy way to keep themselves out of trouble could accept that default. I.e., if an M* rating isn't available, don't look at the bonds.

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