The cumulative number of fallen angels (ie firms downgraded from investment status) recorded globally year to date in 2003 still matches the pace set in 2002, even though the par value affected by these downgrades has diminished visibly, said a report by Standard & Poor’s. This year’s fallen angel count of 33 is close to the tally of 34 in the corresponding period of 2002, but the par value affected by these downgrades dropped to US$47.8 billion this year, 35 per cent lower than in the year-ago period. The number of fallen angels-issuers downgraded to speculative (‘BB+’ and below) from investment grade (‘BBB-‘ and above)-has increased each year since 1996, peaking in 2002 amidst widespread credit deterioration combined with anxiety about corporate scandal and accounting impropriety. ‘The incidence of fallen angel activity is likely to decelerate this year, based on expectations that the trough in this credit cycle has already occurred,’ said Diane Vazza, head of Standard & Poor’s Global Fixed Income Research. ‘In fact, the number of global entities that could potentially become fallen angels has dropped to 48 compared with 56 in our May report.’
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