Top Five Small-Cap Stocks: Balchem, Natus
Our buy rating for Balchem has not changed since June 2003. The company reported record results in net sales and net earnings for the first quarter of fiscal 2008. Balchem achieved net sales of $56.9 million, reflecting a 35% increase from the year-ago quarter. Net earnings increased 35% year over year to $4.6 million. Earnings per share increased 32% to 25 cents from 19 cents in the first quarter of 2007.
Management reported that the integration of several acquisitions made during fiscal 2007 have gone well, and stated that the first-quarter results did not yet reflect the company's full expectations for those acquisitions. Additionally, management noted again that rising raw material costs are expected to remain a challenge for Balchem in the near term. While the company has taken pricing steps to counteract the effects of these increased input costs, the actions taken in the first quarter did not offset all the cost increases, primarily because of timing. Overall, management expects the remainder of fiscal 2008 to continue to bring double-digit increases in sales and earnings. Bear in mind, however, that global economic issues could affect the company's results.
American Ecology (ECOL) is one of the nation's oldest providers of radioactive, hazardous and industrial waste management services. The company's customers are commercial and government entities, such as nuclear power plants, medical and academic institutions, steel mills, refineries and chemical production facilities. A significant portion of the company's revenue from operating disposal facilities -- those that actively receive and treat waste materials -- comes from discrete, one-time clean-up projects, which may span weeks, months, or years depending on project scope. American Ecology's Non-Operating Disposal Facilities segment consists of facilities that no longer receive waste materials but continue to be monitored and maintained as part of the treatment of previously received waste materials. Other services include waste stabilization, encapsulation and chemical oxidation.
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