In the U.S., most bonds ratings are calculated and published by three major companies: Moody's, Standard & Poor's and Fitch IBCA. In addition to the three majors, the SEC has recognized several other Nationally Recognized Statistical Rating Organizations" (NRSROs).
Ratings from the major companies are included in the Market Guide on Dialog (File 100). If you have access, you can also get them through Bloomberg. Press releases on rating changes from all the agencies are reported on the major newswires. Following are other ways to get ratings information from each company.
Fitch IBCA: Fitch ratings are published in the Fitch Rating Books (published monthly) and Rating Database. You can also get Fitch ratings for individual issuers or issues in the areas of Structured Finance, U.S. Public Finance, and certain other sectors back to Jan. 1, 1996 by searching the Fitch Web site. For earlier ratings, call the Fitch Ratings Desk at 800-893-4824. Fitch research reports on banks, European corporations, and international public finance entities is available on a subscription basis (CD-ROM or print or through the Web site). You can call the company to buy them or get copies from NYPL Premium Services or another business library.
Moody's: You can get the current rating for a company's debt from the Quick Search on the Moody's home page or by calling the "Ratings Desk" at Moody's Investor Services (212-553-0300). Moody's ratings are published in Moody's Bond Guide and the appropriate Mergent manual (in paper or on Dialog) or on the subscription-based Mergent Online.
Standard & Poor's: You can look up the S&P rating for a debt obligation on the Find a Rating page; Web site subscribers can also get the reports explaining the rational for the ratings. Alternatively, S&P ratings are published in S&P's CreditWeek and CreditWeek International newsletters (use the index to find the latest entry), S&P's Global Ratings Handbook and S&P's Standard Corporation Descriptions, better known as the "Tear Sheets."
For information about debt ratings, check out a book called Rating Industrial Bonds and/or the Web sites for Moody's Investor Services, Standard & Poor's and Fitch.
Note: To identify a specific debt, get the maturity date and yield.
Canadian debt ratings: The Canadian Bond Rating Service posts its ratings online.