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By Jason Stipp and Jeremy Glaser | 02-08-2013 12:00 PM

The Friday Five

Five stats from the market and the stories behind them. This week: a steep 41% dividend cut, a surprising 12% sales gain, and more.

Jason Stipp: I'm Jason Stipp for Morningstar, and welcome to The Friday Five: five stats from the market and the stories behind them.

Joining me, as always, with the numbers is Morningstar markets editor Jeremy Glaser.

Jeremy, thanks for being here.

Jeremy Glaser: My pleasure, Jason.

Stipp: So what do you have for the Friday Five this week?

Glaser: We are going to look at $5 billion, minus 25%, minus 41%, 12%, and finally zero.

Stipp: $5 billion refers to the potential size of a lawsuit over mortgage-backed security ratings for S&P. What's the story? It's a pretty big number.

Glaser: The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a civil lawsuit against McGraw-Hill unit S&P alleging that S&P, during the run-up to the financial crisis, basically gave more favorable ratings than they should have to different securities in order to win that rating business, in order to compete against some of the other agencies that were also being fairly lenient during this time.

The fact that this lawsuit came, and that it's such a big number, doesn't come as an enormous surprise, really. A ton of ink has been spilled about the run-up to the crisis and the role that rating agencies may have played in stoking investment demand and saying these securities really are as safe as Treasuries--even though it turns out that they weren't, as many of them ended up going from AAA to junk status in pretty short order.

What is a little bit surprising about this lawsuit is that S&P didn't settle. There were reports that they were looking at about $1 billion settlement, admitting that they had some wrongdoing, and it seems like settlement is the way that most of these financial crisis lawsuits have been settled. There doesn't seem to be a lot of appetite for taking this to trial, but S&P is going to try their luck there. Who knows exactly how that's going to work out for them?

But overall, it just shows that even though we are few years away from the financial crisis now, we are still doing with some of these issues, that we still haven't really figured out what the regulatory regime should look like, exactly who was responsible, who is going to be held legally or who is going to have to pay money for the responsibility for what happened during the financial crisis. And it could still be some time before we really have totally cleared all of those issues and [won't] have to be keep looking back over our shoulders to 2008.

Stipp: 25% refers to a decline in same-store sales for a restaurant chain in China, of all places. Does this say more about China or some problems with this restaurant chain?

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