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.

TheStreet.com Ratings has initiated coverage of oil and gas driller

Mariner Energy

(ME)

with a sell rating. The company's return on equity was just 9.3% in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2006, well below the oil, gas and consumable fuels industry average of 25.2%. Mariner Energy's stock price has fallen 1.5% in the past year.

Clothing retailer

Stein Mart

(SMRT) - Get Report

has been upgraded to a buy from a hold. The company's revenue and net income both increased in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2006 compared with the same quarter a year ago. Stein Mart has a debt-to-equity ratio of zero, which TheStreet.com Ratings considers to be a relatively favorable sign. SMRT had been rated a hold since December 2006.

Casual dining restaurant chain

Cheesecake Factory

(CAKE) - Get Report

has been upgraded to a buy from a hold. Although earnings per share fell 7.2% in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2006 compared with the same quarter a year ago, revenue was up 9.8% during that same time period. The stock price has come down 26.9% in the past 12 months, and TheStreet.com Ratings feels the company represents an attractive investment opportunity at the current valuation levels. Cheesecake Factory had been rated a hold since July 2006.

French pharmaceutical company

Sanofi-Aventis

(SNY) - Get Report

has been upgraded to a buy from a hold. The company's net income shot up 86.4% in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2006 compared with the same quarter a year ago and revenue rose 42.7% over the same time period. The gross profit margin for Sanofi-Aventis is rather high, currently it is 60.2%. SNY had been rated a hold since March 2007.

TheStreet.com Ratings has initiated coverage of

Jamba

(JMBA) - Get Report

with a hold rating. The company operates Jamba Juice fruit smoothie shops in 26 U.S. states, the District of Columbia and the Bahamas. Jamba is in a largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures. On the other hand, TheStreet.com Ratings feels the gross profit margin for this company, while rising, is still extremely low at 3.2%.

Additional ratings changes are listed in the table below.