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Top Five Small-Cap Stocks: April 11

Each business day, TheStreet.com Ratings compiles a list of the top five stocks in five categories -- fast-growth, all-around value, large-cap, mid-cap and small-cap -- and publishes these lists in the Ratings section of our Web site.

This list is based on data from the close of the previous trading session. Today, small-cap stocks are in the spotlight. These are stocks of companies that have market capitalizations of between $50 million and $500 million that rank near the top of all stocks rated by our proprietary quantitative model, which looks at more than 60 factors.

The stocks must also be followed by at least one financial analyst who posts estimates on the Institutional Brokers' Estimate System. They are ordered by their potential to appreciate.

Note that no provision is made for off-balance-sheet assets such as unrealized appreciation/depreciation of investments, market value of real estate or contingent liabilities that might affect book value. This could be material for some companies with large underfunded pension plans.

AZZ (AZZ) manufactures electrical equipment and components and provides hot-dip galvanizing services. The company serves the global markets for power generation, transmission and distribution, general industrial markets and the national steel-fabrication market. The company's electrical and industrial products transmit medium- and high-voltage electricity and protect the distribution of power from the point of generation to the end user.

AZZ's galvanizing segment, Aztec Galvanizing Services, consists of a coordinated group of hot-dip galvanizing plants. The company's 20 plants are located across the southern U.S. and provide environmental corrosion protection to steel products.

We have rated AZZ a buy since January 2005. For the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2008, net income increased 5% year over year to $7.30 million. Earnings per share for the quarter rose slightly, to 60 cents from 58 cents a year ago, continuing a trend of positive EPS growth over the past two years. Weak revenue results did not hurt the company's bottom line. Net operating cash flow increased significantly year over year to $18.8 million. Management announced that strong market demand for galvanizing services continued during the quarter, and the company's tons processed increased by 18% for the fiscal year.

Looking to fiscal 2009, management feels that its April 1 asset purchase agreement with AAA Industries will strengthen the company's national market leadership position and make a positive financial contribution in the first year of ownership. It is expected that the acquisition will enhance the company's growth and expansion opportunities and complements previous acquisitions.

Management reaffirmed 2009 revenue guidance of $320 million to $330 million. Bear in mind that management announced that its estimates assume that the company will not experience any significant delays in the delivery or timing in the receipt of orders of electrical and industrial products, and that the cost of zinc will not significantly change from current levels.

American Physicians Service Group (AMPH) is an insurance and financial services firm. Its subsidiaries and affiliates provide medical malpractice insurance as well as brokerage and investment services to institutions and high-net-worth individuals.

One subsidiary, APS Financial, also provides portfolio accounting, analysis and other services to insurance companies, banks and public funds. Other subsidiaries include APS Clearing, Asset Management, APS Insurance Services and APS Facilities Management. A final subsidiary, American Physicians Insurance Company, is a former client. It was acquired in April 2007 and is now a wholly-owned subsidiary. American Physicians Services Group has been in business since 1975 and has been publicly traded on the Nasdaq since 1983.

Because of strengths such as robust revenue growth, a solid financial position, net income improvement and a solid stock-price performance, American Physicians Service has been rated a buy since May 2003. For the fourth quarter of 2007, revenue rose to $22.8 million from $10.8 million in the year-ago quarter. Net earnings were reported at $6 million, or 82 cents a share, vs. $1.6 million, or 56 cents a share in the same period.

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