Moody's to List Firms at Risk of Default

Moody's Investors Service on Tuesday is expected to publish a list called the "Bottom Rung," detailing the companies that Moody's ( MCO) says are most likely to default on their debts, a report says.

Companies such as Eastman Kodak ( EK), Unisys ( UIS), MGM Mirage ( MGM) and U.S. automakers General Motors ( GM) and Chrysler are on the list, according to the Wall Street Journal. With 283 companies, the list holds nearly every sector of the economy.

Moody's has been criticized for missing credit problems in the nation's mortgage markets.

The Journal reports the dominant industries on the list include much of the U.S. auto industry, the casino sector, and many retail chains, newspapers and broadcast-TV and radio-station networks. Energy firms, airlines and restaurant chains also appear often.

The Bottom Rung list, which Moody's will update monthly, represents roughly the riskiest 15% of all companies the agency tracks.

Moody's estimates about 45% of Bottom Rung companies will default on debt in the next year.

Kodak on Monday objected to being on the bottom rung list.

"Any speculation, however informed, suggesting that Kodak is less than financially sound, is irresponsible," wrote Eastman Kodak spokesman David Lanzillo in an email to the Journal. "Kodak is financially solid, and we are taking the right actions to ensure that we remain a strong and enduring competitor."

To compile the list, Moody's chose the companies with the lowest credit ratings -- those rated B3 or below -- whose ratings were either negative or under review. The B3 rating is Moody's 16th-lowest out of 21, the Journal reports.

All of the companies on the list declined to comment for the newspaper or didn't reply to a request for comment.

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