Understanding Credit Ratings — Limitations and Usage
Ratings assigned by India Ratings & Research (Ind-Ra) are opinions based on established criteria and methodologies that Ind-Ra is continuously evaluating and updating. Therefore, ratings are the collective work product of Ind-Ra and no individual, or group of individuals, is solely responsible for a rating. Ratings are not facts, and therefore cannot be described as being "accurate" or "inaccurate". Users should refer to the definition of each individual rating for guidance on the dimensions of risk covered by such rating.
Ind-Ra' opinions are forward looking and include analysts' views of future performance. In many cases, these views on future performance may include forecasts, which may in turn (i) be informed by non-disclosable management projections, (ii) be based on a trend (sector or wider economic cycle) at a certain stage in the cycle, or (iii) be based on historical performance. As a result, while ratings may include cyclical considerations and typically attempt to assess the likelihood of repayment at "ultimate/final maturity", material changes in economic conditions and expectations (for a particular issuer) may result in a rating change.
Credit ratings do not directly address any risk other than credit risk. Credit ratings do not comment on the adequacy of market price or market liquidity for rated instruments, although such considerations may affect Ind-Ra' view on credit risk, such as access to capital or likelihood of refinancing.
Ratings are relative measures of risk; as a result, the assignment of ratings in the same category to entities and obligations may not fully reflect small differences in the degrees of risk. Credit ratings, as opinions on relative ranking of vulnerability to default, do not imply or convey a specific statistical probability of default, notwithstanding the agency's published default histories that may be measured against ratings at the time of default. Credit ratings are opinions on relative credit quality and not a predictive measure of specific default probability.
Ratings are opinions based on all information known to Ind-Ra, including publicly available information and/or non-public documents and information provided to the agency by an issuer and other parties. Publication and maintenance of all ratings are subject to there being sufficient information, consistent with the relevant criteria and methodology, to form a rating opinion.
In issuing and maintaining its ratings, Ind-Ra relies on factual information it receives from issuers and underwriters and from other sources Ind-Ra believes to be credible. Ind-Ra conducts a reasonable investigation of the factual information relied upon by it in accordance with its rating methodology, and obtains reasonable verification of that information from independent sources, to the extent such sources are available for a given security or in a given jurisdiction.
The manner of Ind-Ra' factual investigation and the scope of the third-party verification it obtains will vary depending on the nature of the rated security and its issuer, the requirements and practices in the jurisdiction in which the rated security is offered and sold and/or the issuer is located, the availability and nature of relevant public information, access to the management of the issuer and its advisers, the availability of pre-existing third-party verifications such as audit reports, agreed-upon procedures letters, appraisals, actuarial reports, engineering reports, legal opinions and other reports provided by third parties, the availability of independent and competent third-party verification sources with respect to the particular security or in the particular jurisdiction of the issuer, and a variety of other factors.
Users of Ind-Ra' ratings should understand that neither an enhanced factual investigation nor any third-party verification can ensure that all of the information Ind-Ra relies on in connection with a rating will be accurate and complete. Ultimately, the issuer and its advisers are responsible for the accuracy of the information they provide to Ind-Ra and to the market in offering documents and other reports. In issuing its ratings Ind-Ra must rely on the work of experts, including independent auditors with respect to financial statements and attorneys with respect to legal and tax matters. Further, ratings are inherently forward-looking and embody assumptions and predictions about future events that by their nature cannot be verified as facts. As a result, despite any verification of current facts, ratings can be affected by future events or conditions that were not anticipated at the time a rating was issued or affirmed. If any such information should turn out to contain misrepresentations or to be otherwise misleading, the rating associated with that information may not be appropriate. The assignment of a rating to any issuer or any security should not be viewed as a guarantee of the accuracy, completeness, or timeliness of the information relied on in connection with the rating or the results obtained from the use of such information.
If a rating does not benefit from the participation of the issuer/originator, but Ind-Ra is satisfied that "minimum threshold" information for the given criteria is available from public information and other sources available to Ind-Ra, then the non-participatory issuer, as with all issuers, will be afforded the opportunity to comment on the rating opinion and supporting research prior to it being published.
Ratings do not constitute recommendations to buy, sell, or hold any security, nor do they comment on the adequacy of market price, the suitability of any security for a particular investor, or the tax-exempt nature or taxability of any payments of any security. Ind-Ra does not have a fiduciary relationship with any issuer, subscriber or any other individual. Nothing is intended to or should be construed as creating a fiduciary relationship between Ind-Ra and any issuer or between the agency and any user of its ratings. Ind-Ra does not provide to any party any financial advice, or legal, auditing, accounting, appraisal, valuation or actuarial services. A rating should not be viewed as a replacement for such advice or services.
Ratings may be changed, qualified, placed on Rating Watch or withdrawn as a result of changes in, additions to, accuracy of, unavailability of or inadequacy of information or for any reason Ind-Ra deems sufficient.
The assignment of a rating by Ind-Ra shall not constitute consent by the agency to use its name as an expert in connection with any registration statement, offering document or other filings under any relevant securities laws.
Ind-Ra provides National (domestic) Ratings, which are an assessment of credit quality relative to the rating of the lowest credit risk in India. Ind-Ra publishes opinions on an approved and defined scale regulated by Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).
The most common of these are credit ratings, but the agency also publishes ratings, scores and other relative opinions relating to financial or operational strength. For example, Ind-Ra also provides specialized ratings of servicers of residential and commercial mortgages, asset managers and funds. In each case, users should refer to the definitions of each individual scale for guidance on the dimensions of risk covered in each assessment.
Credit Rating Scales
Ind-Ra' credit ratings provide an opinion on the relative ability of an entity to meet financial commitments, such as interest, preferred dividends, repayment of principal, insurance claims or counterparty obligations. Credit ratings are used by investors as indications of the likelihood of receiving the money owed to them in accordance with the terms on which they invested. The agency's credit ratings cover the domestic spectrum of corporate, financial, bank, insurance, municipal and other public finance entities and the securities or other obligations they issue, as well as structured finance securities backed by receivables or other financial assets.
The terms "investment grade" and "speculative grade" have established themselves over time as shorthand to describe the categories 'IND AAA' to 'IND BBB' (investment grade) and 'IND BB' to 'IND D' (speculative grade). The terms "investment grade" and "speculative grade" are market conventions, and do not imply any recommendation or endorsement of a specific security for investment purposes. "Investment grade" categories indicate relatively low to moderate credit risk, while ratings in the "speculative" categories either signal a higher level of credit risk or that a default has already occurred.
Credit ratings express risk in relative rank order, which is to say they are ordinal measures of credit risk and are not predictive of a specific frequency of default or loss.
Ind-Ra' credit ratings do not directly address any risk other than credit risk. In particular, ratings do not deal with the risk of a market value loss on a rated security due to changes in interest rates, liquidity and other market considerations. However, in terms of payment obligation on the rated liability, market risk may be considered to the extent that it influences the ability of an issuer to pay upon a commitment. Ratings nonetheless do not reflect market risk to the extent that they influence the size or other conditionality of the obligation to pay upon a commitment (for example, in the case of index-linked bonds).
In the default components of ratings assigned to individual obligations or instruments, the agency typically rates to the likelihood of non-payment or default in accordance with the terms of that instrument's documentation. In limited cases, Ind-Ra may include additional considerations (i.e. rate to a higher or lower standard than that implied in the obligation's documentation). In such cases, the agency will make clear the assumptions underlying the agency's opinion in the accompanying rating commentary.
Additional Usage of Primary Credit Rating Scales
The primary credit rating scales may be used to provide a credit opinion of privately issued obligations or certain note issuance programs. The primary credit rating scales may also be used to provide a credit opinion of a more narrow scope, including interest strips and return of principal.