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TSC Ratings' Updates: Southwest Airlines

In the coming year, we anticipate underperformance relative to this pattern. During the past fiscal year, the company increased its bottom line by earning $1.27 a share from 78 cents a share in the prior year. For the next year, Wall Street is expecting it to fall to $1.15 a share. Currently the debt-to-equity ratio of 1.78 is quite high overall and when compared with the industry average, suggesting that the current management of debt levels should be re-evaluated.

Even though the debt-to-equity ratio is weak, the firm's quick ratio is somewhat strong at 1.02, demonstrating the ability to handle short-term liquidity needs. The gross profit margin for CPI International is currently lower than what is desirable, coming in at 31.70%. It has decreased from the same quarter the previous year. Regardless of the weak results of the gross profit margin, the net profit margin of 6.50% is above that of the industry average. CPI International had been rated a sell since May 30, 2007.

Pope Resources (POPE), which engages primarily in managing timber resources by operating in three segments: Fee Timber, Timberland Management & Consulting, and Real Estate, was downgraded to hold. The factors that have impacted our rating are mixed -- some indicating strength, some showing weaknesses, with little evidence to justify the expectation of either a positive or negative performance for this stock relative to most other stocks.

The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its increase in net income, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and expanding profit margins. However, as a counter to these strengths, we find that the stock has had a generally disappointing performance in the past year. The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Paper & Forest Products industry. The net income increased by 10.2% when compared with the same quarter one year prior, going from $0.85 million to $0.94 million. The current debt-to-equity ratio, 0.32, is low and below the industry average, implying that there has been successful management of debt levels.

Along with this, the company maintains a quick ratio of 3.20, which clearly demonstrates the ability to cover short-term cash needs. Regardless of the drop in revenue, the company managed to outperform against the industry average of 9.8%. In its recent quarterly results, revenue slightly dropped by 6.6% from the same period last year -- the decline in revenue has not hurt the company's bottom line. Current return on equity is lower than its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a clear sign of weakness within the company.

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