Each week, TheStreet.com Ratings compiles a list of the top five stocks in five categories -- fast-growth, all-around value, large-cap, mid-cap and small-cap -- and publishes these lists in the Ratings section of our Web site.
This list was last updated Nov. 23, and it is based on data from the close of the previous trading session. Today, all-around-value stocks are in the spotlight. These are stocks of companies that meet a number of criteria, including annual revenue of more than $500 million, lower-than-average valuations such as a price-to-sales ratio of less than 2, and leverage that is less than 49% of total capital.
In addition, they must rank near the top of all stocks rated by our proprietary quantitative model, which looks at more than 60 factors. The stocks must also be followed by at least one financial analyst who posts estimates on the Institutional Brokers' Estimate System. They are ordered by their potential to appreciate.
Note that no provision is made for off-balance-sheet assets such as unrealized appreciation/depreciation of investments, market value of real estate or contingent liabilities that might affect book value. This could be material for some companies with large underfunded pension plans.
L-3 Communications Holdings
, a military-equipment company, has been rated a buy since October 2005.
Third-quarter net income rose 21% over a year ago to $199 million, or $1.56 a share. Revenue increased by 11.1% to $3.45 billion during the same period, outpacing the industry average of 8.5%. L-3's earnings per share grew by 19.1% and the company's stable EPS growth over the past year indicates that it has sound management over its earnings and share float. Its net operating cash flow rose 24.41% to $324.10 million during the third quarter compared with the same period last year.
Encouraged by a strong performance during the first nine months of 2007, a healthy backlog position and a favorable industry outlook, L-3 Communications raised fiscal 2007 guidance to be in the range of $5.86 to $5.90 a share, up from an earlier view of $5.72 to $5.82 share. The company said it expects 2008 earnings to be within the range of Wall Street's expectations. Though the company's stock price has risen in the last 12 months, it should continue to move higher.
, which makes building heating and cooling systems, has been rated a buy since August 2005, on the basis of its impressive growth in revenue and net income.
Fiscal year fourth-quarter profit increased 29.4% from a year ago to $469 million, or 77 cents a share, while revenue climbed 11% to $9.01 billion, driven by strong growth in the building-efficiency and power-solutions segments. Building efficiency rose by 15.4% to $3.61 billion in the quarter, mainly due to strong commercial building markets globally and higher demand for its products to improve energy efficiency and lower operating costs in nonresidential buildings.
During the quarter, the company appointed its executive vice president and vice chairman Stephen Roell as chief executive officer, effective Oct. 1, succeeding John Barth. For 2007, net income increased 21.8% to $1.25 billion, or $2.09 a share. Revenue rose 7.4% to $34.62 billion for the year. Johnson Controls' performance largely depends on its ability to drive higher sales from its building efficiency and automotive experience segments. A sluggish housing sector and rising fuel prices hurting the automobile industry might restrict revenue growth in both segments.
, an integrated oil and gas company, has been rated buy since September 2005. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, solid stock price performance, EPS growth, increase in net income and attractive valuation level.
Total's revenue growth outpaces that of the industry average, driving higher earnings. Total has demonstrated a pattern of positive EPS growth over the past year, a trend that should continue. Third-quarter net profit climbed 29% to $4.54 billion, while sales rose 3% to $57.36 billion. Even though it has already enjoyed a nice gain the past year, Total's stock should continue to move higher. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past year, and this trend is expected to continue. These strengths are expected to outweigh the company's low profit margins.
, a technology products and services company, has been rated a buy since September 2005 on the basis of growing revenue, strong cash flow and expanding margins.
Fourth-quarter profit climbed 28% from a year ago to $2.16 billion, or 81 cents a share driven by a strong performance across its business segments. Revenue increased 15% to $28.29 billion, primarily bolstered by surging laptop sales and continued demand for highly profitable printer ink. For the year, Hewlett-Packard's net income grew 17.2% to $7.26 billion, on revenue growth of 13.8% to $104.29 billion.
The company has agreed to acquire the Atos Origin Middle East group, or AOME. As one of the Middle East's leading systems integrators, AOME is expected to broaden the company's consulting and integration capacity in the region. Also, Hewlett-Packard purchased specialty computer maker Neoware for $16.25 a share or $334 million. On the downside, intense competition in the computer and printer market as well as rising debt levels are downside risks to the buy rating.
, which is involved in every aspect of crude oil and natural gas from exploration to distribution, has earned a buy rating since August 2005.
The company has shown steady top-line growth, with third-quarter revenue climbing 6.8% from a year ago to $7.51 billion, primarily due to an increase in production volumes as well as crude oil and natural gas prices. Net income increased 33.4% to $395 million, or $1.23 a share, mainly due to lower marketing expenses. The company's crude oil production volume increased 9.4% to 257,000 barrels per day, while average realized crude price rose 11% to $65.26 per barrel (including hedging).
Oil prices are trading at a record level, and they are also highly volatile and cyclical in nature. High oil prices may generate demand for low cost alternatives, which could hurt the demand for oil and gas products. Hess generates a significant portion of its profit from the production of oil and gas, apart from oil refining. Any unexpected sharp downturn in oil and gas prices may also affect the company's earnings.