NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The financial crisis stoked investor fears that bankruptcy was imminent for a number of companies, no matter how big or small. Luckily for investors, there is a way to examine certain financial metrics to see which companies are least likely to declare bankruptcy.
The Altman Z-score, a formula developed by New York University professor Edward Altman in 1968, measures several aspects of a company's financial health to forecast the probability of that company entering bankruptcy within two years. The formula was found to be approximately 80% to 90% accurate in predicting bankruptcy on samples of distressed firms one year prior to the event by examining working capital, retained earnings and other financial inputs, according to Altman's study.
Companies with an Altman Z-score of at least 3 are considered in the "safe" zone, while companies with a score of 1.2 or below are considered "distressed."
TheStreet ranks companies trading on the New York Stock Exchange, Nasdaq, or American Stock Exchange that have a minimum $10 million market cap with the highest Altman z-score and examines what the future holds for these investors.
10. Nordic American Tanker Shipping (NAT - Get Report) is an oil tanker transportation company whose shares climbed a 52-week higher in January before falling days later after the company announced a secondary offering. Shares fell to a 52-week low shortly after Nordic American Tanker announced a first-quarter dividend to 60 cents per share, up from 25 cents in the fourth quarter of 2009. Altman Z-score: 61.04 Closing Price: $29.61 (June 21) One-Year Total Return: -0.4% Consensus: Fifteen analysts cover Nordic American Tanker shares; six recommend buying the stock and six suggest holding shares. Another three firms, including EVA Dimensions, say that investors should sell shares. On Monday, Jefferies issued a buy rating on the stock with a $39 price target, while Cantor Fitzgerald offered a hold rating and $28 price target on the company's stock. Valuation: Nordic American Tanker shares are expensive on a price-to-earnings and price-to-sales ratio of 23.17 and 11.21, respectively. That compares to its peers' average P/E ratio of 16.23 and average P/S ratio of 2.27.