There's been no shortage of finger-pointing over who's to blame for the credit crisis. The banks, the homeowners, the speculators, the politicians, and of course, the credit-rating agencies have all shared a portion of the blame.
On the rating-agency side, Moody's
In the second quarter, Moody's pulled in $135.2 million in net income, or $0.54 per share, down 43% from the $0.95 per share earned last year. Revenue plunged 25% -- 34% in its U.S. division -- to $487.6 million.
The long road ahead
The company reaffirmed 2008 guidance for earnings per share between $1.90 and $2.00. With a $36-and-change stock price, that's nothing to get excited about, especially as the state of the bond market provides little hope for growth going forward.
As Chairman and CEO Raymond McDaniel put it this morning, "First-half results reflect persistently difficult credit market conditions ... we remain cautious about recovery in the credit markets for the remainder of 2008."
"Cautious" sounds about right. In 2007, Moody's derived $890 million, or almost 40% of its revenue, from rating structured-finance products, including CDOs, MBSs, ABSs, and other acronyms currently giving the market heartburn. For all intents and purposes, that market has disintegrated. Within structured finance for the quarter, revenue fell 56% -- 67% in the U.S.
When we're talking about a debt-market recovery, it's only prudent to assume that certain parts of the bond hoopla of the past decade will never return to previous levels, and never should. No, the bond market isn't about to disappear -- Moody's will have a steady stream of business for a while -- but it's naive to imagine Moody's returning to the glory days of the past several years, when profits flowed with ease.
Debt was a bubble. Structured finance was a huge bubble. Moody's relied on a healthy dose of both for profits. Putting the two together, it's not easy to get excited about Moody's going forward.
The Foolish bottom line
The pullback isn't exclusive to Moody's. Competitors like McGraw-Hill
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McGraw-Hill, Moody's, and Berkshire are Motley Fool Inside Value recommendations. Moody's and Berkshire are Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks. The Fool owns stock in Berkshire. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.