Each weekday, TheStreet.com Ratings updates its ratings on the stocks it covers. The proprietary ratings model projects a stock's total return potential over a 12-month period, including both price appreciation and dividends. Buy, hold or sell ratings designate how the Ratings group expects these stocks to perform against a general benchmark of the equities market and interest rates.
While the ratings model is quantitative, it uses both subjective and objective elements. For instance, subjective elements include expected equities market returns, future interest rates, implied industry outlook and company earnings forecasts. Objective elements include volatility of past operating revenue, financial strength and company cash flows.
, Japan's largest brokerage, has been upgraded to hold. The company revenue growth has been robust, its profit margins are expanding and it has good cash flow from operations. However, debt management is poor and return on equity and the stock's performance have been disappointing.
In July, Nomura said net earnings for the April-June quarter more than tripled. Revenue increased 85% to 380.7 billion yen or $3.15 billion. However, the company has not demonstrated a clear trend in earnings over the past two years, making it difficult to accurately predict earnings for the coming year. Nomura said it said it may leave the residential mortgage-backed securities market in the U.S. after taking losses. The company had been rated sell since July.
Old Republic International
has been downgraded to hold. While the company enjoys a largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels, revenue growth, and good cash flow from operations, EPS growth has been feeble, net income has deteriorated and return on equity has been disappointing. Old Republic said recently that second-quarter profit slipped 9% from a year ago to $115.1 million, or 49 cents a share.
The company said greater year-over-year claims in its mortgage guaranty line and an increased operating expense ratio in the title insurance business were major offsetting factors. Despite its growing revenue, the company underperformed compared with the industry average. Old Republic International had been rated buy since September 2005.
Grupo Casa Saba
, a Mexican company that distributes pharmaceutical products, beauty aids, personal care and other items has been downgraded to hold. The company revenue has been growing and it has a largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures. The performance of its stock price has also been solid. However, profit margins have been poor overall. Net income for the quarter second-quarter increased 6.37% and sales climbed 3.35%.
The company said government pharma sales declined 19.76%, primarily as a result of lower sales to Pemex, Mexico's state-owned, nationalized petroleum company. Gross income increased only by 0.99% due to a high degree of competition within the market, which resulted in greater discounts. Grupo Casa Saba had been rated buy since September 2005.
CPFL Energia S.A.
, a Brazilian power company, has been upgraded to hold. While the company's revenue growth has been robust, its return on equity and solid stock price performance are both notable, operating cash flow has been weak, and profit margins and debt management have been poor. Last month, CPFL said net income for 2007 had increased by nearly 21%. The company also announced an increase of 14.1% in energy sales within the concession.
CPFL has improved earnings per share by 41.8% in the most recent quarter. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings-per-share growth over the past two years, but TheStreet.com Ratings anticipates underperformance in the coming year. For the next year, the market is expecting a contraction of 8.6% in earnings. CPFL Energia had been rated sell since August.
, a pharmacy benefit management services provider, has been upgraded to hold. The company's revenue and earnings have been growing and it has a largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels. However, it has return on equity has been disappointing and profit margins poor.
Last month, BioScrip swung to a second-quarter profit, earning $500,000, or a penny a share, on revenue of $295 million. This company has reported somewhat volatile earnings recently, but TheStreet.com Ratings believes BioScrip is poised for EPS growth in the coming year. Gross profit for the second quarter was $33.3 million, or 11.3% of total revenue, compared to $28.8 million, or 10.3% of total revenue, for the same period of 2006. Gross profit improved primarily due to favorable sales mix. BioScrip had been rated sell since May 2006.
Additional ratings changes are listed below.