NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Nelnet (NYSE:NNI) has been upgraded by TheStreet Ratings from sell to hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its solid stock price performance, impressive record of earnings per share growth and compelling growth in net income. However, as a counter to these strengths, we find that the company has not been very careful in the management of its balance sheet. Highlights from the ratings report include:
- Compared to where it was a year ago today, the stock is now trading at a higher level, reflecting both the market's overall trend during that period and the fact that the company's earnings growth has been robust. Despite the fact that it has already risen in the past year, there is currently no conclusive evidence that warrants the purchase or sale of this stock.
- NELNET INC reported significant earnings per share improvement in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past two years. We feel that this trend should continue. This trend suggests that the performance of the business is improving. During the past fiscal year, NELNET INC increased its bottom line by earning $3.81 versus $2.78 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($4.50 versus $3.81).
- The return on equity has improved slightly when compared to the same quarter one year prior. This can be construed as a modest strength in the organization. Compared to other companies in the Consumer Finance industry and the overall market on the basis of return on equity, NELNET INC has underperformed in comparison with the industry average, but has exceeded that of the S&P 500.
- NNI, with its decline in revenue, slightly underperformed the industry average of 3.3%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly dropped by 1.0%. The declining revenue has not hurt the company's bottom line, with increasing earnings per share.
- The debt-to-equity ratio is very high at 24.64 and currently higher than the industry average, implying that there is very poor management of debt levels within the company.
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