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Top Five Small-Cap Stocks: Stepan

We have rated Stepan a buy since May 2007, based on strengths such as its robust revenue growth, solid stock price performance and compelling growth in net income. For the first quarter of fiscal 2008, Stepan's revenue rose 22% year over year. This in turn appears to have helped boost earnings per share, which increased to 85 cents in the most recent quarter from 56 cents a year ago. Net income grew 54% to $8.8 million. Stepan also reported that its gross profit increased 32% due to a significant improvement in earnings from its surfactants business.

Management announced that it was pleased with the company's progress in the first quarter as efforts to improve the customer and product mix contributed to the increased profitability of Stepan's global surfactant business. Looking forward, management anticipates continued profit growth compared to last year, despite their concerns about the potential impacts of a recession.

Exponent (EXPO - Get Report) is a science and engineering consulting firm whose multidisciplinary team of scientists, physicians, engineers and business and regulatory consultants brings together more than 70 different technical disciplines to solve complicated issues facing businesses. Its professional staff can perform in-depth scientific research and analysis or very rapid-response evaluations to provide clients with the critical information they need.

Exponent has been rated a buy since November 2001. For the first quarter of fiscal 2008, revenue rose 15% year over year. Net income for the same period increased 26% to $6.4 million. Exponent reported that earnings per share improved 29% to 40 cents in the most recent quarter. In fact, the company has demonstrated a pattern of positive EPS growth over the past two years. Finally, return on equity improved slightly when compared to the same quarter one year prior.
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