Morningstar Inc. began publishing credit ratings Wednesday, adding to its equity and mutual fund research.
The company published ratings for 100 of the largest U.S. public companies and said it plans to produce ratings for up to 1,000 companies covered by its equity research.
Morningstar's move into credit ratings comes after the three main credit ratings agencies _ Standard & Poor's, Moody's and Fitch Ratings _ have been criticized for not recognizing and alerting investors to the risks involved in securities backed by mortgages and other loans.
Morningstar said its ratings are based on four elements: business risk, cash flow, solvency and potential for default.
"Investors benefit when they have access to multiple perspectives on an investment," said Catherine Odelbo, president of equity research for Morningstar.