At a time when companies are increasingly favoring shareholders, Ingersoll-Rand Plc is keeping bondholders happy by cutting $1 billion of its $3.6 billion of debt.

The maker of security systems and Trane air conditioners, rated Baa1 by Moody's Investors Service and BBB+ at Standard & Poor's, retired $345 million of notes this month and plans to repay $600 million of debt due in 2013. That would trim leverage to a level qualifying Swords, Ireland-based Ingersoll-Rand for A ratings, according to debt researcher CreditSights Inc.

The company is going against the shareholder-friendly trend as investment-grade yields hover at record lows, pushing many firms to fund stock repurchases with bonds. Net U.S. corporate debt rose every quarter in 2010 and 2011 to $7.8 trillion from $7.05 trillion, Federal Reserve data show. U.S. corporations executed $489 billion in stock buybacks last year, the most since the record $762 billion in 2007, according to data compiled by Westport, Connecticut-based Birinyi Associates Inc.

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