Stock investors look for reasons one company might make more money than another. Bond investors just want to get paid.

And the folks at Gimme Credit, the New York bond analysts whose one-page reports make the complex simpler, don't like future payment prospects at US companies. For one thing, profits are flat: "Slow growth with input cost inflation is squeezing margins." Plus cheap debt "is encouraging restructuring, M&A and share buybacks," not substantive investment. And "stagflation" is back (from the pre-Reagan 1970s).

Who's vulnerable? Here are the 10 US companies whose bonds Gimme Credit analysts call "most likely to underperform over the next six months":

Locally based:
- Sallie Mae (Wilmington): Without government subsidy, its private student loans face higher losses.
- Tyco International (Princeton): "A mishmosh" of business lines that failed to find a buyer and faces another "split-up."

Also:
- Best Buy: Facing a fourth year of flat to falling sales.
- Cisco Systems: Router demand "contracting sharply." Price cuts shrink profits. Management "unwieldy".
- ConAgra: Ralston takeover is too expensive. Profits falling as grain costs soar.
- Gap Inc.: Sales falling again. Borrowing to buy back stock, a bad sign.
- ILFC (AIG): "The numbers of customers behind on (aircraft) lease payments has increased."
- Lloyds Banking Group: Government-owned UK bank may have to sell branches to cover Irish losses.
- Marathon Petroleum: Spun-off refiner trails Valero, which has "twice the capital, twice the capacity and better margins."
- Progress Energy: Pending Duke Energy merger doesn't fix broken Florida nuke plant or meet tougher EPA rules.