Moody's also overstated Newell's earnings by double-counting amortization when calculating earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization -- the denominator of the leverage ratio.
Adjusting for the errors, Moody's estimate of Newell's leverage should have been closer to six times earnings, the Journal found.
Earlier this month, Moody's updated its calculation of Newell's year-end 2018 leverage to six times earnings, versus a revised estimate of 5.5 times it published in August that took various asset sales into account. S&P raised its number to 5.4 times earnings, citing "normalized" figures that also took into account Newell's asset sales.
An S&P spokesman said in an email that "our analysis speaks for itself."
Moody's confirmed its 2018 calculation included earnings from businesses Newell had sold. Moody's said the calculation was just a different way of measuring leverage, though it agreed that double-counting amortization was an error, and said it corrected it in October.
Kraft and Newell long-term bonds trade in junk territory. S&P and Moody's predict Newell will reduce its debt to about four times earnings within the next year or so.
Write to Gunjan Banerji at Gunjan.Banerji@wsj.com and Cezary Podkul at firstname.lastname@example.org