February 19, 2014 1:39 PM

NEW YORK, Feb 19 (Reuters) – Brazil is unlikely to lose its investment grade status from Standard & Poor’s over the next few years even if it suffers a rating downgrade soon, an analyst with the ratings firm said on Wednesday.

Lisa Schineller told Reuters in an interview that S&P slapped a negative outlook on Brazil’s BBB credit rating last June because it saw a “bit-by-bit deterioration” in the country’s macroeconomic fundamentals, not a dramatic unraveling of its credit story.

“We’ve seen deterioration in the government debt profile, but it’s more likely to be consistent, if there is a downgrade, with a BBB-minus,” Schineller said, stopping short of concluding that Brazil would receive a stable rating outlook if downgraded.

A BBB-minus rating is the lowest investment-grade category for S&P. Brazil currently stands at BBB, two notches into investment-grade territory, but S&P said in June that there was a one-in-three probability that a rise in the government’s debt burden and an erosion of macroeconomic stability would lead to a downgrade over the next two years.