A Comparison of Bond Ratings from Moody's S&P and Fitch IBCA


  • Jeff Jewell,

  • Miles Livingston


Previous research has found that the bond market values the ratings of Moody's and Standard & Poor's. This paper extends earlier research by comparing the ratings of Moody's, Standard and Poor's, and Fitch IBCA. The authors examine a very large database with monthly observations of bonds and bond ratings over a five-year time period. The analysis focuses on comparing rating levels, rating changes, and the impact of ratings on bond yields. The results show that firms with publicly available Fitch IBCA ratings have higher ratings from Moody's and S&P than firms without Fitch IBCA ratings. The typical firm releasing a Fitch IBCA rating has a lower yield (controlling for Moody's and S&P rating), a more stable rating, and is more likely to receive an upgrade. For split-rated bonds (Moody's vs. S&P), Fitch IBCA serves as a tiebreaker. This evidence is consistent with the bond market valuing the ratings of all three raters—Moody's, Standard & Poor's, and Fitch IBCA.