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Rating Action:

MOODY'S RAISES RATINGS OF AMERICAN STANDARD INC. (SENIOR TO Ba1); OUTLOOK POSITIVE

31 Jul 2000
MOODY'S RAISES RATINGS OF AMERICAN STANDARD INC. (SENIOR TO Ba1); OUTLOOK POSITIVE

Approximately $3 Billion of Debt Securities Affected.

New York, July 31, 2000 -- Moody's Investors Service upgraded the senior debt ratings of American Standard Inc. (senior to Ba1 from Ba2). The upgrade reflects continued improvement in operating performance and debt protection measures, the company's substantial sales base and strong market positions in each of its core segments, an improving cost structure, and management's stated intention to reduce debt significantly. The rating also considers the company's current debt levels relative to cash flow, prospects for a weaker external environment occasioned by the impact of higher interest rates on market demand, an active share repurchase program, and event risk, primarily related to acquisitions. The rating outlook is positive.

The ratings raised are:

American Standard Inc.---$1.75 billion Bank Credit Agreement raised to Ba1 from Ba2; senior implied rating raised to Ba1 from Ba2; senior notes raised to Ba2 from Ba3; shelf registration for senior notes raised to (P)Ba2 from (P)Ba3; senior unsecured issuer rating raised to Ba2 from Ba3.

In the past several years, American Standard has acted to improve operational efficiency through a program of plant rationalization, process improvement and overhead reduction. This program, which led to several restructuring charges, has resulted in a lower cost structure. Combined with a relatively favorable external environment, it has also produced improving financial performance over time. With the accession of a new senior management team, additional focus has been placed on cost reduction through the implementation of Six Sigma process measurement and control procedures, coordinated purchasing practices and tax reduction strategies. Thus, the company is positioned to extract additional financial return from the current asset base, with consequent improvement in debt protection measures.

American Standard's new management team has also announced plans to reduce debt significantly, to $1.5 billion by the end of 2003 from the current level of about $2.7 billion. As the company progresses toward this target, there could be potential for further rating upgrades, as reflected in the positive rating outlook. At the same time, however, the company has also initiated a share repurchase program that is expected to utilize approximately one third of free cash flow.

Other positive factors considered in the upgrade include the company's substantial $7 billion sales base, its diversity of products and markets, and the significant repair/replacement component of sales, all of which can lend stability to the company in the event of a decline in any single market. Risks to the rating include the possibility of significant debt-financed acquisitions, a general decline in economic activity that could impact several segments simultaneously, and increased pricing pressures, any of which could delay the attainment of debt reduction targets.

The notching of American Standard's notes relative to the senior implied rating reflects the superior protection of the credit facility, which is secured by a pledge of subsidiary stock and is guaranteed by all significant operating subsidiaries, including the operations of American Standard International Inc. (ASII) which, as part of a December 1999 corporate reorganization, holds nearly all of American Standard's foreign operations. While the notes are guaranteed by the holding company, American Standard Companies Inc., they are not guaranteed by the operations of ASII.

American Standard Inc., headquartered in Piscataway, New Jersey, is a leading international producer of air conditioning equipment, plumbing products and vehicle control systems. Revenues were $7.2 billion in 1999.

New York
Michael J. Mulvaney
Managing Director
Corporate Finance
Moody's Investors Service
JOURNALISTS: (212) 553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: (212) 553-1653

New York
James Alward
Vice President - Senior Analyst
Corporate Finance
Moody's Investors Service
JOURNALISTS: (212) 553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: (212) 553-1653

No Related Data.
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