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Fallen Angel Activity Continues to Decelerate

The number of investment-grade companies that are at risk of being downgraded to junk status has fallen to an eight-year low, according to a new report from Standard & Poor's.

As of June 15, a total of 42 companies worldwide, affecting rated debt totaling $52.5 billion, were in danger of becoming "fallen angels," according to the ratings agency. In other words, they were vulnerable to falling from what S&P deems investment grade (BBB-minus or higher) to junk status (BB-plus or lower). The current total is the lowest since 1997.

The high-tech sector includes six issuers ? all based in the United States ? that are potential fallen angels, noted a report by Diane Vazza, head of Standard & Poor's Global Fixed Income Research Group. The insurance, media and entertainment, and utility sectors each include five potential fallen angels.

So far in 2004, eight U.S. issuers have fallen to junk status.


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