AAA

DEFINITION of 'AAA'

The highest possible rating assigned to the bonds of an issuer by credit rating agencies. An issuer that is rated AAA has an exceptional degree of creditworthiness and can easily meet its financial commitments. Ratings agencies such as Standard & Poor's and Fitch Ratings use the AAA nomenclature to indicate the highest credit quality, while Moody's uses Aaa.

BREAKING DOWN 'AAA'

As bonds that are rated AAA are perceived to have little risk of default, they offer investors the lowest yields among bonds of comparable maturity. The global credit crisis of 2008 resulted in a number of companies, including General Electric, losing their AAA rating. By the end of 2009, only four companies in the S&P 500 possessed the coveted AAA rating: Automatic Data Processing, Johnson & Johnson, Microsoft and ExxonMobil.

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