Just yesterday we saw a report from Fitch Ratings showing that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) likely would be rated in the single-A corporate credit ratings. The report seemed very harsh, considering Apple’s dominance and changing structures. Unfortunately (or fortunately), that just set the current multibillion bond offering from Apple up for a ratings agency horse race. Now we have Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services, issuing a very strong AA+ rating for its debt.
To put this on par, remember that the S&P ratings agency downgraded the U.S. sovereign debt ratings out of AAA territory down to AA+ before. In short, Apple is being called just as creditworthy as Uncle Sam.
The rating incorporates our assumption that Apple will maintain “minimal” financial risk, with adjusted leverage below 1x, and a “strong” business risk profile, incorporating market-leading products, a globally diverse customer base, and strong profitability. In addition, our stable rating outlook reflects our expectation that Apple will maintain “excellent” liquidity and significant net cash balances.
Fitch Ratings gave a much more cautious ratings outlook on Monday. Apple shares are up another 2%, at $438.60 against a 52-week range of $385.10 to $705.07. Apple is again back to having the largest market cap, versus Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM).