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20 international stocks with high credit ratings

A view of the Exxon Mobil refinery in Baytown, Texas

Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters

What are we looking for?

Credit ratings are intended to provide a guide to the quality of a company's debt, but they can also provide important clues about the attractiveness of a company's stock, since firms with the highest credit ratings tend to be more financially stable than those lower down the scale.

Today, with the help of Jamie Hynes, sales director with S&P Capital IQ, we look around the world for companies with healthy credit profiles as well as other attractive characteristics.

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How we did it

Under S&P's credit rating system, grades range from AAA (extremely strong capacity to meet financial commitments) to BBB-minus (considered the lowest investment grade by market participants).

Last week, Mr. Hynes looked for Canadian companies with strong credit ratings. For today's offering, he tweaked that screen, which combined Standard & Poor's Entity Credit Ratings with S&P Capital IQ financial data, to search for companies on any major global exchange with AA- credit ratings or better.

Seventy-one stocks met this requirement, so he narrowed the search to companies with $1-billion or more in market capitalization, and:

  • a dividend yield of at least 2 per cent;
  • earnings that have grown over the past year;
  • a price-to-earnings ratio of no more than 15;
  • an average analyst recommendation of “hold” or better.

More about S&P Capital IQ

S&P Capital IQ offers a comprehensive set of tools for fundamental analysis of global securities as well as idea generation and workflow management. Its Web- and Excel-based platform provides access to both real-time and historical information on companies, markets, transactions and people around the world.

What we found

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Twenty companies, including three Canadian banks, have a AA- credit rating or better and also meet our additional criteria. Their average price change, year to date, is 18.3 per cent – handily beating the 11.8 per cent return for the MSCI World Index.

As always, you should do your own research before buying any of the stocks listed here.

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About the Author

Ian McGugan is a reporter with The Globe and Mail's Report on Business and has been writing about investing, economics and business for more than 20 years. He joined the Globe and Mail in 2010. He has been executive editor of Canadian Business magazine and founding editor of MoneySense magazine. More

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