Standard & Poor's, famous for credit ratings, is starting to "score" companies on .
The firm plans to rate U.S. companies, analyzing the extent to which a company conforms to good practices that serve the interest of shareholders, said Ian Byrne, director of business development for services, in the London office of New York-based Standard & Poor's, a division of McGraw-Hill Cos.
He expects S&P to score 20 or 30 companies in the United States and some other developed markets by the end of the year, hoping the number picks up.
S&P, which has kept the service low key so far, already has rated some companies in emerging markets, notably Russia.
Mr. Byrne said S&P charges companies $50,000 to $100,000 or more for the service, depending on complications, Mr. Byrne said. The S&P score, ranging from 1 to 10 (the highest), is confidential, based on proprietary information obtained from companies and interviews with top executives, he said, adding the company has discretion over whether to make public the score and analysis.
Rolling out the service in other countries was a higher priority than introducing it in the United States, but the Enron Corp. situation has increased demand and led S&P to move up the U.S. launch, Mr. Byrne said.
BP PLC, London, is the first company in a developed market to receive such an S&P analysis, Mr. Byrne said. It scored 9.6.
"We are delighted at this rating, which reflects the strong attention we have always given to stakeholder issues," said Greg Coleman, vice president-group investor relations at BP in London.
Ultimately as scores become more widespread and publicly available, Mr. Byrne expects the analysis to be fertile ground for research into the correlation of scores and stock performance.