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How safe is your pension? MoneySense Magazine rates the plans of the top 100 public companies

Plus: We rank the top 200 Canadian stocks. Our ranking now has a five-year average annual return of 19%.

TORONTO, Dec. 7 /CNW/ – Thanks to last fall’s market crash, Canada’s corporate pension plans are in worse shape than they’ve been in years. Collectively, they are underfunded by $50 billion, but the health of individual pensions varies considerably.

While many articles have addressed the general state of pensions in Canada, MoneySense magazine has rated the individual defined benefit pensions offered by the 100 largest public companies that provide such pensions. What we discovered was shocking.

The magazine placed each of the 100 plans it examined in one of three categories: “Danger”, “On Alert” and “Safe.” A total of eight major Canadian companies were given the “Danger” rating. MoneySense also placed 34 pension plans “On Alert,” and deemed the rest of the 100 company plans to be “Safe.”

Crunching the numbers

Since a pension is most at risk if the company goes bankrupt while a plan is underfunded, we based our rating system on just two numbers: the percentage by which a plan is underfunded and the risk the company will go bankrupt.

Plans were deemed to be in the “Danger” category if they were underfunded by 50% or more, or if they were underfunded by more than 20% and there is a chance that the associated company could go bankrupt in the next two years, as measured by the Altman Z-score.

For a full list of the 100 plans, pick a copy of the latest issue of MoneySense on newsstands now or get in touch with the contact below.

MoneySense is also launching a new website on December 18 that will include an expanded list, with ratings for 188 major Canadian company pension plans.

Also in this issue:

The Top 200 Canadian stocks

Last year’s MoneySense All-Star stock picks gained 41%. Our five-year average annual return is 19%-beating every Canadian equity mutual fund. Here are our 2009 rankings of every major Canadian stock, plus:

-  The top 20 low-priced bargains
    -  The top 20 for earnings and sales growth
    -  Our 16 All-Star Picks for 2010.

Pick up the latest issue of MoneySense on newsstands now, or go to our all-new website, launching on December 18.

About MoneySense: MoneySense is Canada’s personal finance and lifestyle magazine. Packed with smart features, practical advice and easy-to-follow financial tips on everything from home improvement to mutual funds, an average MoneySense issue attracts 892,000 Canadians on the lookout for new ways to save, invest and spend. is Canada’s best all-around personal finance Web site.