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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 revenues rose by 21.9% year-over-year. This in turn appears to have helped boost earnings per share, which increased from 56 cents in the first quarter of fiscal 2007 to 85 cents in the most recent quarter. Net income grew 53.8% when compared to the same quarter a year ago, rising from $5.69 million to $8.75 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.

Pericom Semiconductor (PSEM) designs, develops and markets high-performance interface integrated circuits (ICs) and frequency control products (FCPs) used in advanced electronic systems. Interface ICs transfer, route, and time electrical signals among a system's microprocessor, memory, and various peripherals and between interconnected systems. FCPs are electronic components used as time and frequency clocks in electronic products ranging from computers and telecommunications switching equipment to cell phones and televisions. Pericom's interface products increase system bandwidth.

We have rated Pericom a buy since February 2007. The company reported that its earnings for the third quarter of fiscal 2008 surged 58.4% year-over-year, bolstered by strong demand for its products. Aided by strong demand for products used in digital video high-performance PCs and servers, total revenue for the quarter climbed 36.4% to $41.18 million, compared to $30.18 million in the prior year quarter. Net income for the quarter increased to $4.14 million, or 16 cents a share, from $2.61 million, or 10 cents a share, in the third quarter of 2007. The company expanded its Digital Video solutions by launching two new switches that allow next generation computing platforms using dual function graphics ports to be switched between either of the high speed protocols. Pericom also launched three new signal conditioning products and expanded its Timing portfolio.

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