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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, mid-cap stocks are in the spotlight. These are stocks of companies that have market capitalizations of between $500 million and $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.


( GR), which supplies aerospace and defense security products, has been rated a buy since August 2005. Its third-quarter earnings grew 25.9%, driven by commercial aircraft equipment sales. Net income increased to $126.80 million, or 99 cents a share, for the quarter. (Excluding items, earnings for the quarter were $1.10 a share, which beat the consensus estimate of 91 cents a share.) Third-quarter revenue rose 14.8% to $1.40 billion compared with the same period last year, and the company's overall operating margin rose to 17.23% in the same period.

Any decline in government spending and the weakened condition of the airline industry are some of the downside risks.


(ATR) - Get AptarGroup Inc. Report

manufactures and sells dispensing systems to the personal care, cosmetic, pharmaceutical and food/beverage markets worldwide. It has been rated a buy since October 2005. The company's revenue increased 19.9% to $485.69 million in the third quarter compared with the same period last year, powered by strong sales, favorable exchange-rate movements and acquisitions. These factors, along with lower net interest expense and lower tax rates, boosted net income by 39.5% to $39.48 million during the same timeframe. AptarGroup also recently implemented a share buyback program that authorized the repurchase of approximately $19.70 million worth of stock during the fourth quarter.

In addition to its notable financial performance, Ratings is encouraged by the company's solid fourth-quarter earnings outlook, its initiatives to increase shareholder returns and the company's strong balance sheet.

The stock is not risk-free. AptarGroup operates in markets that are highly competitive, especially in regards to price. This, along with increasing raw material costs over the past few years, could impact the company's operating results.

Barnes Group

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(B) - Get Barnes Group Inc. Report

, a metals maker and industrial supplies distributor, has been rated a buy since September 2005. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, impressive record of EPS growth, compelling growth in net income, good cash flow from operations and expanding profit margins. Barnes has displayed a pattern of positive EPS growth over the past two years.

Although no company is perfect, currently Ratings does not see any significant weaknesses that are likely to detract from the generally positive outlook.


(MTW) - Get Manitowoc Company Inc. (The) Report

manufactures and markets cranes and related products, food service equipment and marine products. It has been rated a buy since September 2005.

The company demonstrates notable revenue growth, significant earnings-per-share improvement, impressive stock price appreciation and net income growth that has significantly outpaced that of both the

S&P 500

and its industry. Its price is now somewhat expensive compared with the rest of its industry, but given the company's strengths, the higher price is justified.

Specialty insurance products and services provider

The Midland Company

( MLAN) has been rated a buy since September 2005. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, solid stock price performance and compelling growth in net income. It has also demonstrated a pattern of positive EPS growth over the past two years.

Given these strengths, Midland's low profit margins are no threat to the buy rating.