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Top Five Large-Cap Stocks

Garmin, Emerson Electric in the lead.

Each weekday, 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, updated daily, is based on data from the close of the previous trading session. Today, large-cap stocks are in the spotlight. These are stocks of companies with market capitalizations of over $10 billion that 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.


(GRMN) - Get Report

makes navigation, communications and information devices based on GPS technology. It has been rated a buy since September 2005. The company has shown outstanding revenue growth, notable return on equity, a two-year pattern of steady increases in EPS, and it is carrying no debt.

These strengths outweigh the fact that Garmin is trading at a premium valuation according to Ratings' review of its current price compared with factors such as earnings and book value.

Emerson Electric

(EMR) - Get Report

, a diversified technology company, has been rated a buy since September 2005. The company reported a 23.4% increase in third-quarter revenue to $5.87 billion, which was driven by double-digit sales growth from four of its five segments. Net income increased 18.1% to $574 million, or 72 cents a share, and the higher net income boosted the return on equity and assets. Return on equity expanded 196 basis points to 23.43%, and return on assets improved 71 basis points to 10.16%.

On the downside, Emerson Electric operates in a highly competitive environment and that could affect prices or customer demand for its products, impacting profit margins and resulting in a loss of market share.

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Southern Copper


mines, smelts and refines copper in southern Peru. It has had a buy rating since August 2005. The company has benefited from higher metal prices, which have translated into strong growth in revenue and net income. Net income growth has been further driven by expanded operating margins, lower net interest expenses and a decline in the effective tax rate. The positive trend in net income has contributed to exceptional return on equity.

Southern Copper also has a strong project pipeline, with plans to increase copper output by 100,000 tons by 2009. The principal risk to the buy rating emanates from any undue delay in the completion of Southern Copper's capacity expansion and new mine products. Copper supply could also be affected by production stoppages due to labor strikes and the availability of mining equipment, as well as transportation bottlenecks.

Oilfield services company


(SLB) - Get Report

has been rated a buy since July 2005. It saw double-digit revenue growth across its segments in the second quarter compared with the same period last year, and its operating margin for the quarter hit 28.16%, driven by increased exploration and drilling activity. Schlumberger also completed the acquisitions of Geosystem and Tyumenpromgeofizika, a supplier of land and marine electromagnetic and seismic imaging services, and a geophysical and wireline logging services provider in Western Siberia.

Schlumberger also shows a strong net income growth and improved return on equity, a clear sign of strength. The stock is not without its risks. In the short term, management has cautioned of uncertainty in its North American market due to a rapid rise in gas storage levels and expected declines in commodity prices. These factors could hurt the company's performance over the long run.

Smith International


, which provides products and services for oil and gas exploration and production, has been rated a buy since May 2006. The company reported a strong financial performance in the recently concluded quarter, benefiting from the favorable industry environment. Smith International's fiscal second-quarter revenue grew 21.6% to $2.11 billion from a year ago. Net income increased 28.8% to $153.05 million because of lower production, general and administrative costs, which were partially offset by higher net interest expense.

Smith's performance depends on the level of oil and natural gas exploration and development activities, which are cyclical. There has been a rise in oil price in the past two years, which might lead to either a decline in demand or increased use of alternatives.