Moody’s Short-Term Debt Ratings Definitions

Moody’s short-term debt ratings are opinions of the ability of issuers to punctually repay senior debt obligations that have an original maturity not exceeding one year. Obligations relying upon support mechanisms such as letters-of-credit and bonds of indemnity are excluded unless explicitly rated.  Moody’s employs the following three designations, all judged to be investment grade, to indicate the relative repayment ability of rated issuers:


Issuers rated Prime-1 (or supporting institutions) have a superior ability for repayment of senior short-term debt obligations.

Prime-1 repayment ability will often be evidenced by many of the following characteristics:

  • Leading market positions in well-established industries

  • High rates of return on funds employed

  • Conservative capitalization structure with moderate reliance on debt and ample asset protection

  • Broad margins in earnings coverage of fixed financial charges and high internal cash generation

  • Well-established access to a range of financial markets and assured sources of alternate liquidity


Issuers rated Prime-2 (or supporting institutions) have a strong ability for repayment of senior short-term debt obligations. This will normally be evidenced by many of the characteristics cited above but to a lesser degree. Earnings trends and coverage ratios, while sound, may be more subject to variation. Capitalization characteristics, while still appropriate, may be more affected by external conditions. Ample alternate liquidity is maintained.


Issuers rated Prime-3 (or supporting institutions) have an acceptable ability for repayment of senior short-term obligations. The effect of industry characteristics and market compositions may be more pronounced. Variability in earnings and profitability may result in changes in the level of debt protection measurements and may require relatively high financial leverage. Adequate alternate liquidity is maintained