Bloomberg reports that the credit rating firm Fitch Ratings has given GM a BB- credit default rating, the same as Ford Motor Credit. The difference: Ford has over $20b in debt, while GM is sitting on less debt and more cash. So why the identical rating? Fitch’s Stephen Brown explains:
Although they have similar ratings, you sort of get to them from different paths. GM doesn’t have a whole lot of debt, but they have very large pension obligations. Ford’s pension obligations are significant, but they’re lower than GM’s by quite a bit. But Ford has a lot of debt.
At the end of the first half of 2010, GM had $32b in cash and $8b in debt, while Ford had $22b in cash and $27b in debt. GM’s pensions, on the other had, are underfunded to the tune of $27b, while Ford’s are underfunded by $6.1b. Analysts have consistently suggested that GM’s IPO valuation should be in the neighborhood of Ford’s $40b market cap, and an identical credit rating seems to confirm the wisdom (or at least the popularity) of the comparison. Unfortunately, a $40b GM valuation would fail TTAC’s last standard for even marginal bailout “success.” After all, if GM is worth less than the $50b taxpayers put into it, there’s going to be no chance of spinning the IPO as a success.