The COVID-19 pandemic has been disrupting not only lives and businesses around the world for over a year, but also the credit ratings of major corporations. Corporate credit ratings are a key measure of creditworthiness, but can also determine borrowing costs. They range from AAA to blue chip companies like Johnson & Johnson JNJ, -0.39% and Microsoft Corp. MSFT, + 1.34% to D for defaulting companies. Increasingly, credit ratings may also point to a potential path of recovery for industries hard hit by the protracted public health crisis. Take, for example, travel and recreation, an industry that has seen half of all blue chip companies in the world transition to high yielding, or “junk” status during the pandemic, according to a new report from Credit Benchmark . Even as parts of Europe remain stranded to contain the coronavirus, travel and leisure has seen the highest share of ‘fallen angels’ (at 11.1%) revert to investment grade status during the crisis (see graph below). Fallen Angels, Rising Stars Credit Benchmark The report identified 1,051 fallen angels out of 6,895 companies sampled around the world, or about 15% of the total. He found that about 5% went back to the investment grade. The retail, oil and gas, and auto and parts sectors have also been volatile on the credit ratings front over the past year, according to the report, with migrations between the two main tranches being now a key objective for investors. Read: The next rising stars in the debt world? Probably the Fallen Angels of Businesses Upgrades and downgrades can make a big difference to a business in terms of borrowing costs. The average yield on bonds issued by investment grade US companies is now in the 2.21% range, while it is almost double for those in speculative grade territory at around 4.21%. These rates are important, especially in the past year, as cruise lines including Carnival Corp CCL, -1.52%, Royal Caribbean Group RCL, -1.37% and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd NCLH , -2.20%, borrowed billions because their ships were largely idle. See: White House pushes back cruise industry efforts to restart in July, as Florida sues Biden administration But with other ‘clawback’ deals, Carnival shares rose 31.9 % year-to-date Thursday, while those of Royal Caribbean and Norwegian were up about 20%, according to FactSet data. This compares to the Dow Jones Industrial Average’s DJIA, + 0.17%, up 9.5% for the same period, while the S&P 500 SPX Index, + 0.42% was up 9.1%. .