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TheStreet Open House

Stock Upgrades, Downgrades From TheStreet.com Ratings

Each weekday, TheStreet.com 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 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.

CIT Group (CIT) provides financing and leasing products to various industries. It has been downgraded to hold from buy. The company's second-quarter revenue was up 21% on the year, though the increase does not seem to have trickled down to its earnings. It swung to a loss of 70 cents per share from a profit of $1.12 per share a year earlier.

Additionally, the company's debt-to-equity ratio of 9.01 is higher than the industry average and implies very poor management of debt levels at the company. CIT Group had been rated a buy since May 2007.

Apparel designer and manufacturer Hartmarx (HMX) has been upgraded to buy from hold. Its net income was up 38.6% in the second quarter over the year-earlier period, significantly outperforming the S&P 500 and its industry. The company's gross profit margin of 36.7% was also up on the year.

Hartmarx's stock has increased by 39.32% over the past year, pushing it to a level that is relatively expensive compared with the rest of its industry. TheStreet.com Ratings feels, however, that its strengths justify the high price levels.

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