Most brokers offer a bond-search engine that includes the current ratings by Moodys and S&P. FINRA offers info on ratings as well and includes those by Fitches. In short, it’s easy to find out how an issuer’s bonds are currently rated, as well as how the issuer was rated historically and whether it is currently on credit-watch and subject to an upgrade or downgrade. If you want to know how to interpret “split ratings”, which is Apple’s situation, you’re going to have to dig into the professional bond literature for guidence, but that stuff is all but unreadable and/or useless unless you’re running a professionally-sized portfolio (aka, multi-millions of dollars).
Sugestion: if you want to vet a corporate bond, see what the rating agencies are saying and what the market is saying about the issuer’s credit worthiness through their pricing of the bonds --which is a separate issue than the impact of interest-rate levels and forecasts) and what the stock analysts are saying about the company’s prospects and what the stock and options traders are saying through their pricing and then grind through the company’s financials the old-fashioned way, looking for warning flags. Collectively, a pretty trustworthy picture emerges, which is only step one of the vetting process. Next comes sizing a postion relative to your account size and your risk metrics and objectives. Then comes the problem of finding a lot that someone will sell you. Explanation: some order mins are 200 bonds. No retail investor can manage that. Plus, you gotta deal with call features, tax features, etc. But there are plenty of books that explain the bond investing process, the best of which for beginners is that by Sharon Wright (any edition). The next step up is Barnhill’s book and anything by Altman.
As for SEG factors, you’d be surprised by what rating agencies consider as they attempt to estimate ‘risk’. Read a couple dozen reports. The analsysts aren’t dummies. What happens at higher levels of mangement --where the bribes are offered and accepted-- is a whole 'nother matter. And even there the corruption isn’t as widespread as is alleged. Yeah, in obvious cases, for obvious reasons, ratings are sometimes issued that the facts don’t warrant. (Like, ask what rating is assigned to our dear country’s debt and then compare that to the ratings assigned to far more solvant, but politically disfavored, countries.) But by and large, the ratings and reports are a useful place for an investor to start.
As for Apple, it’s a corrupt, evil, POS company I want nothing to do it, and the world would be a better place without it. Ditto Altria, Raytheon, Boeing, Monsanto, Pfizer, etc.(IMHO, 'natch.)