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Stock Upgrades, Downgrades from Ratings

Each weekday, Ratings updates its ratings on the stocks it covers. The proprietary ratings model projects a stock's total return potential over a 12-month period, including both price appreciation and dividends. Buy, hold or sell ratings designate how the Ratings group expects these stocks to perform against a general benchmark of the equities market and interest rates.

While the ratings model is quantitative, it uses both subjective and objective elements. For instance, subjective elements include expected equities market returns, future interest rates, implied industry outlook and company earnings forecasts. Objective elements include volatility of past operating revenue, financial strength and company cash flows.

Greeting-card manufacturer American Greetings (AM) has been upgraded to buy from hold. The company's earnings per share were up 111.5% in the first quarter of fiscal 2007 compared with the year-earlier period. The gross profit margin for American Greetings is rather high at 64.3%. Along with this, the net profit margin of 7.2% is above that of the industry average. American Greetings had been rated hold since April 2007.

GSE Systems (GVP) has been upgraded to hold from sell. The company provides simulation and educational software to energy companies. Its revenues jumped 40.5% in the first quarter of fiscal 2007 compared to the same quarter a year ago. Revenues throughout the information technology industry grew by just 28.7% during that same time period. GSE Systems is in a largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures. The company had been rated sell since June 2005.

Aerospace and defense manufacturer Sparton (SPA) has been downgraded to sell from hold. The company swung to a loss of 23 cents per share in the third quarter of fiscal 2007 from a gain of 8 cents per share a year earlier. Sparton's other weaknesses include a disappointing return on equity, poor profit margins and a weak operating cash flow. Sparton had been rated hold since March 2006.

Stanley Furniture (STLY) has been downgraded to hold from buy. The company designs and manufactures residential wood furnishing. Stanley's earnings per share tumbled 65.1% in the first quarter of fiscal 2007 compared to the same quarter a year earlier. Return on equity has also been disappointing and is currently just 12.7%, well below the home furnishings industry average of 17%. Stanley Furniture had been rated buy since January 2007.

Biopharmaceutical firm Anesiva (ANSV) has been downgraded to sell from hold. The company has a negative return on equity of 66.7% that significantly underperforms its peers. Anesiva's profit margins are also poor. The company's stock price has fallen 14.9% over the past year. The stock had been rated hold since February 2007.

Some recent rating changes are highlighted below. Ratings Upgrades, Downgrades
Company Name Ticker Change New Rating Former Rating
Alpha Pro Tech APT Downgrade Hold Buy
American Greetings AM Upgrade Buy Hold
Golden Enterprises GLDC Upgrade Buy Hold
Grill Concepts GRIL Downgrade Hold Buy
GSE Systems GVP Upgrade Hold Sell
Leading Brands LBIX Upgrade Hold Sell
Magellan Petroleum MPET Downgrade Sell Hold
Sparton SPA Downgrade Sell Hold
Stanley Furniture STLY Downgrade Hold Buy
Jacksonville Bancorp JAXB Downgrade Hold Buy
Anesiva ANSV Downgrade Sell Hold
First Business Fcl Svc FBIZ Upgrade Hold Sell
Source: Ratings

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