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Top Five Small-Caps

Actuate (ACTU) provides software and services for business intelligence, performance management and reporting applications. It has been rated a buy since September 2006.

The company's strengths are seen in multiple areas, including its solid stock price performance, compelling growth in net income and largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures. These strengths should outweigh the company's weak operating cash flow.

Actuate's stable EPS over the past year indicates that the company has sound management over its earnings and share float, and Ratings believes these figures will begin to experience more growth in the coming year. Although no company is perfect, Actuate does not currently demonstrate any significant weaknesses that are likely to detract from the generally positive outlook.

Brokerage and investment advisory services provider American Physicians Service Group (AMPH) has been rated a buy since November 2005. The company's strengths include revenue growth, a largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels and a solid stock price performance. These strengths should outweigh the company's somewhat disappointing return on equity.

Third-quarter earnings came to $5.3 million, or 73 cents a share, up from $409,000, or 14 cents a share, a year ago. Revenue totaled $22.8 million, up from $7.1 million a year ago.

The company's stock has risen over the last year, and, while other factors played a role, strong earnings growth was key. Although the best stocks can fall in an overall down market, in any other environment this stock still has good upside potential despite the fact that it has already risen in the past year. Stocks in the capital markets group are highly sensitive to interest rate changes, equity market performance and the general health of the economy since all these factors influence financial performance.

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