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November 30, 2005

USA: Ratings agency threatens Ford downgrade

Standard & Poor's Ratings Services has said it could lower Ford's credit rating by more than one notch in January after the car maker announces its fourth-quarter results.

Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services has said it could lower Ford’s credit rating by more than one notch in January after the car maker announces its fourth-quarter results.

Ford CEO Bill Ford is also expected to announce his latest restructuring plan in January.

The Associated Press (AP) noted that S&P downgraded Ford’s credit rating to “junk” status earlier this year, making it more expensive for the automaker to borrow money. The agency put Ford on a credit watch with negative implications last month and said yesterday (29 November) that rating will remain until January.

S&P reportedly said Ford’s market share of the important sport utility segment is declining and the company could have trouble in the full-size pickup market next year. S&P said it’s also concerned about the sales and pricing outlook for Ford’s products, especially since rival General Motors has lowered prices on many of its models.

Ford and its finance arm, Ford Motor Credit, currently have a BB-plus long-term rating and a B-minus short-term rating. Ford’s consolidated debt totalled $142 billion as of Sept. 30, S&P said, according to The Associated Press.

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