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BOSTON (TheStreet)'s stock-rating model is warming to companies that improved fundamentals during the fourth-quarter. Here are three timely upgrades.


The model upgraded Chinese panelmaker

JA Solar


, which reported quarterly results on Thursday, to "hold."

The numbers

: Fourth-quarter net income declined 1.9% to $22 million. On a per-share basis, JA Solar swung to a profit of 14 cents from a loss of 24 cents a year earlier, beating analysts' consensus estimate of 11 cents. Revenue increased 62% to $238 million. JA Solar's operating margin improved to 15%. Its balance sheet has a liquid tilt, with $280 million of cash and $273 million of debt.

The stock

: JA Solar soared


during the past year, outperforming major U.S. indices and American rivals


( SPWRA) and

First Solar

(FSLR) - Get Free Report

. However, the stock dropped 20% over the past four weeks. The shares are cheap relative to those of electrical-equipment peers based on projected earnings, book value and sales. A beta of 3.2 indicates that JA Solar magnifies market movements.


The model upgraded online travel company


(EXPE) - Get Free Report

, which released quarterly numbers and inaugurated a dividend policy on Thursday, to "hold."

The numbers

: Expedia swung to a fourth-quarter profit of $102 million, or 35 cents a share, from an impairment-related loss of $2.8 billion, or $9.60, a year earlier. Revenue grew 12% to $698 million. Expedia's operating margin widened from 17% to 20%. The company holds $702 million of cash and $895 million of debt. Its 0.6 quick ratio indicates poor liquidity.

The stock

: Expedia appreciated


during the past year, outpacing U.S. benchmarks. The shares are undervalued relative to those of Internet-retail peers based on all of our valuation measures, including trailing earnings, projected earnings, book value, sales and cash flow. The stock has a PEG ratio, a measure of value relative to growth, of 0.4. A figure less than one implies that a stock is inexpensive.


The model upgraded insurer

Manulife Financial

(MFC) - Get Free Report

, owner of John Hancock, to "hold." The company reported quarterly results on Thursday.

The numbers

: Manulife swung to a fourth-quarter profit of $868 million, or 51 cents a share, from a loss of $1.9 billion, or $1.24, a year earlier. Revenue decreased 41% to $6.7 billion. Manulife's operating margin improved to 18%. The company holds $19 billion of cash and marketable securities and $9.2 billion of debt. Its 0.3 debt-to-equity ratio indicates conservative leverage.

The stock

: Manulife Financial increased


during the past year, less than major U.S. indices. The shares are cheap relative to those of insurance peers based on book value and sales, but are expensive when considering trailing earnings. Manulife suffered losses in three of the past five quarters. The company receives a growth score of 2.2 out of 10 and a volatility score of 2, hurting its overall ranking.

-- Reported by Jake Lynch in Boston.