SOURCE: Weiss Group, LLC

Weiss Group, LLC

May 06, 2010 09:40 ET

Weiss Buys Back Bank and Insurance Ratings From

Weiss Ratings Resumes Role as Nation's Leading Independent Rating Agency of Financial Institutions

JUPITER, FL--(Marketwire - May 6, 2010) -  Weiss Group, LLC, a leading provider of independent research and ratings since 1971, has announced today that it has bought back the bank and insurance company ratings which it had sold to TheStreet in 2006, restoring the business to its wholly owned subsidiary, Weiss Ratings. 

Unlike most other rating agencies, Weiss Ratings accepts no compensation of any kind from the companies it rates, deriving its revenues exclusively from the sale of ratings and data to consumers and others via public libraries and the Internet.

In addition to its independent ratings on the nation's banks and insurers, Weiss has also entered into a licensing agreement with TheStreet to resume distribution of independent ratings on publicly traded companies, mutual funds, closed-end funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). At the same time, TheStreet has licensed Weiss' bank and insurance company ratings to distribute to its customers.

"I believe the timing of this change couldn't be better," commented Martin D. Weiss, Ph.D., chairman and founder of Weiss Ratings. "It comes at a time when financial institutions continue failing at an alarming pace and when new evidence of conflicts at established rating agencies underscores consumers' urgent need for unbiased ratings to help protect them."

Weiss continued: "Also with this change, Weiss Ratings analysts can focus mostly on research that helps safeguard bank depositors and insurance policyholders, while TheStreet analysts can focus primarily on publicly traded companies bought and sold by investors."

Weiss Ratings has hired back its former bank and insurance analysts and staff, who will continue at their current location in the Weiss Group headquarters in Jupiter, Florida. "TheStreet has done an excellent job of maintaining Weiss' tradition of independence and accuracy. As the name on the door changes back to Weiss Ratings, we won't miss a beat. Most important, consumers can rest assured that their financial safety will always be our primary mission."

Weiss Ratings is the nation's only provider of independent ratings on the nation's 900 life and annuity insurers, 2,700 property and casualty insurers, as well as 600 health insurers and HMOs. It is among the nation's leading providers of independent ratings on 8,000 banks and S&Ls. Plus, it also distributes independent ratings on the shares of thousands of publicly traded companies, mutual funds, closed-end funds and ETFs.

By adhering to its independent business model, Weiss outperformed Standard and Poor's, Moody's, A.M. Best and Duff & Phelps (now Fitch) in warning of future life and health insurance company failures according to a 1994 study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), while also outperforming its competitors in identifying the safest insurers, according to its follow-up study using the GAO's research methodology. Similarly, Weiss was the only one to identify, in advance, nearly all major banks that failed or required a federal bailout in the 2008-2009 debt crisis. (See Weiss Warnings of Financial Failures in Debt Crisis of 2008-2009.)

In the field of stock ratings, Weiss outperformed J.P. Morgan Chase, Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, Piper Jaffray, Credit Suisse First Boston, Smith Barney, Standard and Poor's, and Morgan Stanley, plus all 14 of the other broker-operated and independent research firms reviewed by and published in the Wall Street Journal in June of 2005.

Thanks to its strong track record and independence, the New York Times wrote that Weiss was "the first to see the dangers and say so unambiguously"; Barron's wrote that Weiss is "the leader in identifying vulnerable companies"; and Esquire concluded that Weiss Ratings is "the one company [that] ... provides financial grades free of any conflicts of interest."

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