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.
China Unicom Limited
, an integrated telecommunications operator, has been downgraded to hold. The company is in a largely solid financial position, with revenue growth and good cash flow from operations. However, China Unicom has also experienced deteriorating net income, disappointing return on equity and feeble EPS growth.
The company recently said that, due to an accounting loss, its first-half net earnings slipped 24% from a year ago to $280 million. Revenue rose 5% to $6.5 billion, significantly trailing the industry average of 78.2%. Its debt-to-equity ratio is very low at 0.23 and is currently below the industry average. Net operating cash flow has increased 7.69% when compared to the same quarter last year. China Unicom had been rated buy since Sept. 4.
Marsh & McLennan
has been downgraded to hold. While the company has seen notable return on equity, with growth in revenue and earnings per share, the stock's performance has been disappointing and profit margins have been poor. Marsh & McLennan recently said that second-quarter income excluding items totaled $140 million, or 25 cents a share, up from $131 million, or 24 cents a share, a year ago, missing Wall Street's expectations. Revenue increased 7% to $2.82 billion.
Marsh & McLennan said Brian M. Storms is stepping down as chief executive officer of Marsh Inc., the company's insurance broking subsidiary. Current return on equity exceeded its ROE from a year ago, a clear sign of strength within the company. Marsh & McLennan had been rated buy since May.
, an insurance company, has been downgraded to hold. The company enjoys a largely solid financial position, with notable return on equity, but it has also experienced unimpressive growth in net income, poor profit margins and weak operating cash flow. Progressive's second-quarter earnings fell 29% to $283.7 million, or 39 cents a share.
Net premiums written slipped 3.3% to $3.56 billion and net premiums earned dropped 1.5% to $3.51 billion. Net operating cash flow decreased to $567.50 million or 11.63% from a year ago. The return on equity has improved slightly when compared to the same quarter one year prior. Progressive had been rated buy since September 2005.
, which provides freight logistics, has been downgraded to hold. While the company enjoys a largely solid financial position and robust revenue growth, its stock price performance has been poor, net income growth has been unimpressive and return on equity has been disappointing. UTi Worldwide said recently that second-quarter income fell 20% from a year ago to $27.7 million, or 28 cents a share, but still beat Wall Street's expectations.
Gross revenue climbed 18% to $1.05 billion, higher than the industry average of 5.1%. The company also lowered its fiscal 2008 forecast, saying the current operating environment indicates a slower rate of revenue growth in the China to North America trade lane and continued weakness in the U.S. domestic trucking market. UTi Worldwide had been rated buy since September 2005.
Magellan Health Services
, a specialty health care management company, has been downgraded to hold. Although the company has a largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels, its stock's performance has been disappointing, with feeble EPS growth and deteriorating net income. Magellan Health Services said second-quarter earnings fell 20.2% to $16.8 million, or 42 cents a share, while revenue climbed 13.5% to $452.9 million, outpacing the industry average of 5.9%.
Current return on equity is lower than its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. Earnings per share have declined over the last year and TheStreet.com Ratings expects this to continue in the coming year. Debt-to-equity ratio is very low at 0.03 and is currently below the industry average. Magellan Health Services had been rated buy since January 2007.
Additional ratings changes are listed below.