ORLANDO - In the Middle Ages, alchemists tried to turn lesser metals into to gold. Today, lenders are attempting to change securitized loans of lesser credit quality into triple-A pools in much the same fashion, says an expert in the field.

Speaking at the National Home Equity Mortgage Association's southeastern conference here, Glen Stein, vice president of asset-backed securities for Prudential Securities Inc., said people are trying to turn B and C securities - the lower-credit-quality securities, into pools whose credit is rated much higher, at triple-A.

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