TheStreet.com Ratings: Stock Upgrades, Downgrades - TheStreet

Each weekday, TheStreet.com Ratings updates its ratings on the stocks we cover. Our model projects a stock's total return potential over a 12-month period including both price appreciation and dividends. Our buy, hold or sell ratings designate how we expect these stocks to perform against a general benchmark of the equities market and interest rates.

While our 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 forecasted company earnings. Objective elements include volatility of past operating revenue, financial strength and company cash flows.

Some recent rating changes are highlighted below.

International information technology provider

Ness Technologies

( NSTC) has been upgraded to a buy from a hold. The company's revenues grew by 25.2% in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2006 compared to the same quarter a year ago. Ness has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past two years. TheStreet.com Ratings feels this trend should continue. NSTC had been rated a hold since March 2006.

Schulman

(SHLM) - Get Report

has been upgraded to a buy from a hold. The company makes high performance plastic compounds and resins. Net operating cash flow shot up 52.8% in the first quarter of fiscal 2007 compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company's current debt-to-equity level is below the industry average, suggesting there has been a successful management of debt levels. Schulman had been rated a hold since January 2007.

Real estate investment trust

Saul Centers

(BFS) - Get Report

has been downgraded to a hold from a buy. The company's portfolio consists primarily of development parcels located in the Washington, DC-Baltimore metropolitan area. The company's debt-to-equity ratio is 3.96, well above the industry average. Saul Centers had been rated a buy since February 2007.

New Jersey-based banking firm

Oceanfirst Financial

(OCFC) - Get Report

has been downgraded to a hold from a buy. The company's earnings remained flat at 40 cents per share in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2006, compared to the same quarter a year ago. Revenue growth during that same period significantly trailed the industry average. The stock price tumbled 28.4% over the past twelve months. Oceanfirst had been rated a buy since January 2007.

Indiana bank company

Irwin Financial

( IFC) has also been downgraded to a hold from a buy. The company's net income fell 23.7% in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2006 compared to the same quarter a year ago. Irwin's stock price declined 16.8% over the past three months. The company had been rated a buy since January 2007.

Telecommunications company

Fibernet

( FTGX) has been upgraded to a hold from a sell. The company provides broadband interconnection services through facilities located in New York and Los Angeles. Fibernet's net income grew 41.8% in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2006 compared to the same quarter a year ago. Revenues were up 26.1% over that same time period. TheStreet.com Ratings expects profitability in the telecommunications services industry to improve over the long term. The company had been rated a sell since March 2005.