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Over 700 finance terms, Shmooped to perfection.
S&P, Moody's, and Fitch are all rating agencies that gather up information about bonds and the companies that issue them. They release ratings about the relative strengths of individual bonds so that investors can make better decisions.
Rating agencies look at things like the financials of a bond issuer, debt loads, and indicators. If a bond is ranked high, there is a low chance of default, meaning that the company or issuer will probably pay you what they're supposed to and you won't lose your money. Lower ratings mean bigger risks.
In the S&P world, BBB is the highest rating for an "investment grade" bond. Anything lower than BBB is considered a junk bond.
Caveat emptor. (That's Latin for "read the fine print.")