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Stock Upgrades, Downgrades From Ratings

Esco Technologies (ESE - Get Report), which makes filtration products and related components, has been downgraded to hold. The company has reported increased net income and revenue growth, and it has a largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels. In May, the company said its second-quarter profit climbed 31%. However, it also had a disappointing return on equity and weak operating cash flow. In June, the company said its fiscal 2008 outlook might get deflated due to a potential "further delay" or a modification in its supply contract with Pacific Gas & Electric. Despite its growing revenue, the company underperformed compared with the industry average. The company had been rated buy since May.

Universal Forest Products (UFPI - Get Report), a wood production company, has been downgraded to hold. The company has a largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels, but it also has seen deteriorating net income, disappointing return on equity and poor profit margins. In April, the company's first-quarter revenue fell to $549 million from $665.6 million a year earlier. Weakness in Universal's revenue seems to have hurt the bottom line, decreasing earnings per share. The company's return on equity is significantly below the industry average. Universal Forest Products had been rated buy since July 2005.

MedCath (MDTH), a hospital and health program operator, has been upgraded to buy. The company has shown a compelling increase in net income with a largely solid financial position, solid stock performance and an impressive record of earnings per share growth. Ratings believes these strengths outweigh the company's weak operating cash flow. In May, MedCath reported that second-quarter revenue had increased 5% to $192.5 million as the company swung to a profit. Despite MedCath's mixed debt-to-equity ratio, the company's quick ratio is high and demonstrates strong liquidity. The company had been rated hold since July 2005.

Additional ratings changes are detailed below.

Stock Upgrades, Downgrades from Ratings
Ticker Company Name Change New Rating Former Rating
OMX OfficeMax Downgrade Hold Buy
AOI Alliance One International Upgrade Hold Sell
ESE Esco Technologies Downgrade Hold Buy
JEN Jennifer Convertables Upgrade Hold Sell
UFPI Universal Forest Products Downgrade Hold Buy
MDTH MedCath Upgrade Buy Hold
IDMI IDM Pharma Downgrade Sell Hold
NPTE North Pointe Initiation Sell n/a
NBF Nova Biosource Fuels Initiation Hold n/a
Source: Ratings
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OMX $15.26 -0.26%
AOI $24.76 0.00%
ESE $38.39 0.00%
UFPI $81.49 0.00%
AAPL $95.03 0.21%


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