Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Moody’s Bottom (Restaurant and Retail) Rung

- bcbgMoody’s on Tuesday published its “U.S. Bottom Rung,” a list of┬ácompanies that the corporate credit ratings agency thinks are at the most risk of defaulting on their debt. There are 283 companies on the list, which is current as of March 1, including the names of some beloved restaurants, retailers and food companies.

Why do this? The Wall Street Journal offers some possibilities:

“Sounds like Moody’s may be trying to get out in front on defaults, given they were perhaps a little behind on subprime mortgages and commercial mortgage-backed securities,” said David Resnick, managing director at investment banking firm Rothschild Inc. which works on many corporate bankruptcies and restructurings.

Moody’s and credit-rating rival Standard & Poor’s were criticized by the Senate in hearings late last year about the effectiveness of the ratings agencies.

The Journal also says Moody’s enters risky territory by naming some companies that say they are in, as the paper put it, decent fiscal health.

Check Out Line: Food vs foreign currency


Check Out Sara Lee and Kraft Foods joining the “stronger dollar” bandwagon. KRAFT/

Both food makers cut their profit forecasts for the current year, citing the pain they expect from the stronger U.S. dollar decreasing the value of sales from international markets.

Check Out Line: Food makers surprise Wall St on the upside


cag2Check out those higher prices at the grocery store helping General Mills and ConAgra to post quarterly results above Wall Street expectations.

Both food makers reported lower profits on a net basis.

But excluding various items, their earnings were stronger than analysts were expecting.