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.
New York Community Bancorp
, a financial services company, has been upgraded to buy. The company has shown strength in several areas, including revenue growth, good cash flow from operations, expanding profit margins, reasonable valuation levels and a solid stock price performance. These factors are expected to outweigh its somewhat disappointing return on equity. The bank's net operating cash flow increased by 97.5% in the second quarter to $162.58 million, while revenue growth greatly exceeded the industry average of 29.8%. During the second quarter, the company said net interest margin increased 12 basis points linked-quarter and 15 basis points year over year. New York Community Bancorp had been rated hold since July.
, a beer, wine and spirits company, has been upgraded to buy. The company has enjoyed growth in earnings per share, reasonable valuation levels, good cash flow from operations, expanding profit margins and an increase in net income. These strengths should outweigh its generally poor debt management. EPS increased by 7.1% in the most recent quarter compared with the same quarter a year ago. Net operating cash flow increased by 237.3% to $263.80 million. Net income grew 5.4%, exceeding that of the beverages industry average, to $72.10 million. Sales after excise taxes dropped 37% to $892.6 million. Constellation Brands had been rated hold since July.
, a bond insurer, has been upgraded to buy. The company has seen robust revenue growth, expanding profit margins, an increase in stock price during the past year, notable return on equity and good cash flow from operations. TheStreet.com Ratings believes these strengths outweigh the company's subpar net income growth. In July, the company said that second-quarter operating income grew to $1.57 a share from $1.50 a share. Premiums rose to $220.7 million from $216.7 million. Net operating cash flow increased by 68.7% over a year ago to $264.10 million. Revenue increased by 16.6%. MBIA had been rated hold since August.
, operator of the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store restaurants and gift shops, has been upgraded to buy. The company has experienced growth in earnings per share, a notable return on equity and expanding profit margins. These factors are expected to outweigh its generally poor debt management. CBRL Group's return on equity greatly increased from a year ago and significantly exceeds the industry average. Fiscal fourth-quarter sales increased 12% to $632.1 million. Earnings, pulled down by costs and a higher tax rate, slipped 22% to $27.8 million, or $1.13 a share. September restaurant same-store sales, or sales at stores open at least a year, increased 1.5%. Comp sales at gift shops dipped 0.2%. CBRL Group had been rated hold since September.
, a spa services provider, has been upgraded to buy. The company enjoys a largely solid financial position with reasonable debt and valuation levels, EPS and revenue growth, and an increase in net income. These factors are expected to outweigh the company's weak operating cash flow. Second-quarter revenue increased 10.8% to $129.8 million. EPS came to 67 cents a share, up from 61 cents a share a year ago.
The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive EPS growth over the past two years and this trend is expected to continue. Net income increased by 7.3% to $11.56 million, significantly exceeding the Diversified Consumer Services industry average. Steiner Leisure had been rated hold since July.
Additional ratings changes listed below.