Morningstar has started publishing credit ratings for about 100 of the largest U.S. companies. Over the next year, it plans to produce credit ratings for up to 1,000 companies currently covered by its equity analyst team. The ratings are available for free for institutional equity research clients at its website.

Morningstar is drawing on its equity research, which is has been producing since 1998, to bring a distinct perspective to debt ratings. Its equity analysts produce detailed five-year forecasts of cash flows for stock evaluation. The company then compares these forecasts with liabilities coming due to offer insight into companies' creditworthiness.

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