Only two U.S. corporations have a AAA rating, the highest possible rating that can be assigned to an insurer’s bonds by any of the major credit rating agencies. One is in jeopardy of losing that illustrious position, analysts say.
Johnson & Johnson and Microsoft are the country’s only AAA-rated companies, meaning they hold a high degree of credit worthiness because they can easily meet their financial commitments and thus have a lower risk of defaulting. But Johnson & Johnson is facing billions of dollars in legal fines over issues including marketing practices and pharmaceuticals. Analysts say the risk of investing in the company may be beginning to outweigh the rewards.
Financial services company Moody’s Corporation recently adjusted its outlook on Johnson & Johnson’s AAA rating from stable to negative, citing the $572 million judgment against the company in Oklahoma’s landmark opioid trial last month. J&J – and other manufacturers and distributors of opioids – face more than 2,000 more lawsuits alleging the companies created and fueled a national opioid epidemic by exaggerating the benefits and downplaying the risks of their highly addictive pain killers.
Johnson & Johnson not only faces lawsuits over its medical drugs, but also its iconic Johnson’s Baby Powder and other talc-containing products over claims its talc was contaminated with cancer-causing asbestos and caused people to develop ovarian cancer and mesothelioma. J&J has been hit with numerous multimillion-dollar verdicts in cases across the country.
Johnson & Johnson stock has built a strong reputation as a safe conservative bet for investors, with 56 straight years of dividend increases. If its credit rating is downgraded, its stock would likely fall. Furthermore, if the company were to lose its AAA rating, the chances of getting it back would be nearly impossible, investors say.
Beasley Allen is working on cases of ovarian cancer linked to use of Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder, Shower to Shower body powder and other talc products for feminine hygiene. For more information about these cases, contact Ted Meadows or Leigh O’Dell.
Sharon Zinns, who works in Beasley Allen’s Atlanta office, is leading a team handling mesothelioma claims. They are looking at cases of industrial, occupational and secondary asbestos exposure resulting in lung cancer or mesothelioma as well as asbestos-related talc products linked to mesothelioma.