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.
Commercial and retail bank
has been downgraded to a hold from a buy. The company's revenue grew by 20.8% in the third quarter compared with the same period last year, outpacing the industry average of 18.1%. It also has attractive valuation levels and expanding profit margins.
However, the company's third-quarter earnings decreased 23.94% to 89 cents per share from $1.17 a share in the same period last year. The stock price is down by 26.34% in the last 12 months; that should not necessarily be interpreted as a negative, and could be one of the factors that may make the stock attractive down the road. Right now, TheStreet.com Ratings believe it is too soon to buy. Wachovia had been rated a buy since March 2006.
LM Ericsson Telephone Company
operates through three segments: mobile networks, fixed networks and professional services. It has been downgraded to a hold from a buy.
The company's third-quarter revenue growth of 7.3% compared with the same period last year trailed the industry average of 34.1%. While its debt-to-equity ratio in that timeframe was low at 0.21, it was still higher than the industry average. Ericsson also maintains a quick ratio of 1.46, which illustrates the ability to avoid short-term cash problems. The company's return on equity increased to 22.71% in the third quarter over the year-earlier period, which can be construed as a modest strength in the organization.
However, as a counter to these strengths, Ericsson's stock price has fallen by 26.63% in the past 12 months. While the stock's decline has made it cheaper (in proportion to its earnings over the past year) than most other stocks in its industry, due to other concerns, TheStreet.com Ratings feels the stock is not a good buy right now. Ericsson had been rated a buy since November 2005.
Companhia de Bebidas das Americas
produces, distributes and sells beer, carbonated soft-drinks and non-alcoholic beverages principally in Latin America. It has been upgraded to a buy from a hold.
The company's revenue increased by 38.7% in the third quarter compared with the same period last year, outpacing the industry average of 9.9%. Its third-quarter earnings rose by 67.64% to 57 cents per share compared with 34 cents a share last year, continuing a two-year pattern of EPS growth.
TheStreet.com Ratings believes this trend will continue. Its stock price has increased by 62.96% in the last 12 months, driving it to a price that is now somewhat expensive compared with the rest of its industry. The other strengths, however, justify the higher price level. Companhia de Bebidas das Americas had been rated a hold since August 2007.
Car and truck maker
has been downgraded to a sell from a hold.
It swung to a net loss of more than $39.96 billion in the third quarter compared with a gain of $6 million a year earlier. GM's revenue declined by 13.8% over the same timeframe, and its gross profit margin of 11.30% has decreased significantly in that time.
GM's share price is down by 9.44% in the last 12 months, and the fact that the stock is now selling for less than others in its industry in relation to its current earnings is not enough to justify a buy rating at this time. Based on TheStreet.com Ratings' measurement of the company's income statement and cash flow, GM's growth score is lower than virtually all stocks we rate. It also ranks at the bottom for income generated per dollar of capital. GM had been rated a hold since June 2006.
provides information technology management software worldwide. It has been upgraded to a buy from a hold. The company's net income increased by 158.5% to $137 million in the second quarter of its fiscal 2008 compared with the same period last year. Earnings rose to 26 cents per share in the second quarter compared with 9 cents a share a year earlier.
While CA has reported somewhat volatile earnings recently, TheStreet.com Ratings feels it is poised for growth in the coming year. Revenue grew by 8.1% in the second quarter, boosting EPS, although the revenue growth rate trailed that of the industry average.
The company's stock has gone up by 11.62% in the past 12 months, driving it to a price that is relatively expensive compared with the rest of its industry. However, CA's strengths justify its higher price. It had been rated a hold since May 2006.
Additional ratings changes are listed below.