Watch stocks you care about
The single, easiest way to keep track of all the stocks that matter...
Your own personalized stock watchlist!
It's a 100% FREE Motley Fool service...
Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
What: Shares of ratings agencies Moody's (NYSE: MCO ) and McGraw-Hill (NYSE: SPGI ) , the owner of Standard & Poor's, both tumbled as much as 14% on Tuesday following the filing of a lawsuit by the Department of Justice against Standard & Poor's.
So what: The lawsuit from the DOJ claims that Standard & Poor's knowingly inflated its ratings on risky mortgage assets despite blatant evidence of falling home prices and is one of the primary causes for the credit crisis in 2008. The DOJ is apparently seeking a minimum of $5 billion in damages. Six separate state attorneys general and the attorney general of the District of Columbia have filed, or are expected to file, similar civil suits against Standard & Poor's. As of now, McGraw-Hill has denied the claims as "meritless."
Now what: There are lawsuits, and then there are lawsuits from the DOJ. DOJ lawsuits usually end with some sort of compensation heading the government's way, so it's very easy to see why McGraw-Hill is headed lower, as this could be a gray cloud that hangs over the company for months, if not a year or two. Likewise, Moody's isn't out of the woods and may continue to deal with rumors that it's next. This is an ugly situation that I'd just as soon avoid altogether.
One way to avoid legal drama: Pick top-notch stocks
The Motley Fool's chief investment officer has selected his No. 1 stock for the next year. Find out which stock it is in our brand-new free report: "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2013." I invite you to take a copy, free for a limited time. Just click here to access the report and find out the name of this under-the-radar company.