Skip to main content

Each business day, Ratings Ratings compiles a list of the top five stocks in five categories -- fast-growth, all-around value, large-cap, mid-cap and small-cap -- 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 62 factors. In addition, the stocks must be followed by at least one financial analyst who posts estimates on the Institutional Brokers' Estimate System. The stocks 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.

Enterprise Products Partners

(EPD) - Get Enterprise Products Partners L.P. Report

is a midstream energy company that provides services to producers and consumers of natural gas, natural gas liquids, crude oil and petrochemicals in the U.S., Canada and the Gulf of Mexico. We

recently upgraded this stock to a buy

in April 2009 based on several positive investment measures, the strongest of which is the company's expanding profit margins.

Enterprise continues to deal with the effects of Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, but posted a record gross operating margin in the first quarter of fiscal 2009 despite the lingering difficulties. At the same time, NGL, crude oil, and petrochemical transportation volumes were a record 2.2 million barrels per day. The company's gross profit margin is rather low, but it has managed to increase from the same period last year. In addition, a net profit margin of 6.6% compares favorably with the industry average.

Management considered Enterprise's first quarter results to be a good start to fiscal 2009. The stock's performance has been lackluster recently, but we feel that its strengths outweigh the potential weakness at this time.

FPL Group

(FPL) - Get First Trust New Opportunities MLP & Energy Fund Report

owns and operates Florida Power & Light Company, supplying electric service to a population of more than 8 million throughout most of the east and lower west coasts of Florida. We have

rated the stock a buy

since January 2009 due to the company's impressive growth and strong fundamentals.

For the first quarter of fiscal 2009, the company reported that its revenue increased 7.9% year-over-year, beating the industry average of 3.1%. This appears to have led to FPL's 45.2% improvement in EPS, which is a continuation of a pattern of positive EPS growth over the past two years. We feel that this trend should continue, and the market expects an improvement from $4.07 to $4.23 this year. Net income also increased in the first quarter, rising 46.2% from $249 million to $364 million. Return on equity improved slightly when compared to the same quarter last year and can therefore be considered a modest strength for FPL Group. Although the company's stock price is down 15.86%, we do not feel that this should necessarily be interpreted as negative. The drop in price reflects, in part, the market's overall decline and is one factor that makes this stock an attractive investment at this time.

Scroll to Continue

TheStreet Recommends

Based on its first quarter results, FPL Group raised its guidance for both fiscal 2009 and fiscal 2010. The company projects adjusted earnings for full year 2009 in the range of $4.20 to $4.40 per share and in the range of $4.65 to $5.05 per share for full year 2010. Although most measures we evaluated indicated that the company has had generally poor debt management, we feel that the strengths detailed above outweigh any potential weakness at this time.

Public Storage


operates as a real estate investment trust that acquires, develops, owns, and operates self-storage facilities in the U.S. and Europe. We have

rated the stock a buy

since January 2009. The rating is based on such strengths as the company's largely solid financial position, attractive valuation levels, expanding profit margins, good cash flow from operations and relatively strong performance in comparison with the

S&P 500

over the past year.

For the first quarter of fiscal 2009, Public Storage increased its net operating cash flow 12.79% year over year. The company's gross profit margin of 44.3% was strong and has increased significantly from the same quarter last year, while a net profit margin of 50.7% outperformed against the industry average. In addition, the company has a very low debt-to-equity ratio of 0.06, which implies successful debt management.

Public Storage shows sub par growth in net income in the first quarter. Despite this, we feel that the strengths detailed above outweigh any potential weakness at this time.

Medco Health Solutions


is one of the nation's largest pharmacy benefit managers, providing sophisticated traditional and specialty pharmacy benefit programs and services for clients, members of client-funded benefit plans, and individual patients. We have

rated the company a buy

since December 2008. This rating is supported by several positive factors, including its growth, notable return on equity and good cash flow from operations.

For the first quarter of fiscal 2009, Medco reported revenue growth of 14.4% year over year, which beat the industry average of 1.1%. EPS apparently benefitted from this growth, improving 16% when compared to the same quarter of last year. We feel that the company's trend of positive EPS growth should continue. Net income also increased, rising 7.7% from $270.2 million to $291 million. Medco's net operating cash flow increased 607.12% over the prior year's quarter and surpassed the industry average cash flow growth rate of 52.06%. An additional modest strength for the company is its return on equity, which improved slightly when compared to the first quarter of last year.

Management attributed the company's first quarter results to its success in growing its top and bottom lines, and cited the company's strength in winning new business, as well. The company reaffirmed its full-year guidance for fiscal 2009, indicating that it anticipates GAAP diluted EPS in the range of $2.45 to $2.55. Medco shows low profit margins, but we feel that this potential weakness is outweighed by the strengths detailed above.


(MCD) - Get McDonald's Corporation Report

primarily operates and franchises McDonald's restaurants. In total, the corporation has more than 30,000 restaurants in more than 100 countries. We have

rated McDonald's a buy

since March 2004, based on strengths such as its EPS and net income growth, strong profit margin results, and relatively strong performance in comparison to the S&P 500 over the past year.

McDonald's reported on April 22 that its revenue decreased slightly in the first quarter of fiscal 2009, dropping 9.6% year over year. This decline did not seem to affect the company's bottom line, however, as EPS improved 7.4% when compared to the same quarter last year. We feel that the company's trend of positive EPS growth should continue. Although McDonald's gross profit margin decreased year-over-year, a result of 36.6% is still considered strong, and the company's net profit of 19.3% compares favorably with the rest of the industry. McDonald's net income increased slightly in the first quarter, rising 3.5% from $946.10 million to $979.5 million.

McDonald's attributed its first quarter results to strong global comparable sales, and management said that the company was confident about its ability to drive shareholder value and grow the business' value. Although the company's stock price is down 8.69% when compared to last year, we do not see anything in its fundamentals that is likely to cause a continuation of last year's declining stock price. No company is perfect, but we do not currently see any significant weakness that is likely to detract from McDonald's generally positive outlook.

Our quantitative rating, which can be viewed for any stock through our stock screener stock rating screener, is based on a variety of historical fundamental and pricing data and represents our opinion of a stock's risk-adjusted performance relative to other stocks. However, the rating does not incorporate all of the factors that can alter a stock's performance. For example, it doesn't always factor in recent corporate or industry events that could affect the stock price, nor does it include recent technology developments and competitive dynamics that may affect the company. For those reasons, we believe a rating alone cannot tell the whole story and should be part of an investor's overall research.