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Ranking is a method of assigning a value to an investment in relation to comparable investments by using a scale.
The scale might be a straightforward numerical (1 to 5) or alphabetical (A to E) system, or one that also uses stars, checks, or some other icon to convey the evaluation.
Research firms and individual analysts typically establish and publish their criteria -- though not their methodology -- for establishing their rankings.
These criteria, which also differ by investment type, may include quantitative information such as past earnings, price trends, and the issuing company's financial fundamentals, or more qualitative assessments, such as the state of the marketplace.
Ranking can be a useful tool in evaluating potential investments or in reviewing your current portfolio. Before depending on a ranking, though, you'll want to understand how it has been derived and how accurate the system for assigning the values has been over time.