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Each business day, Ratings compiles a list of the top five stocks in one of 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 we focus on mid-caps.

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.

Church & Dwight

(CHD) - Get Church & Dwight Company Inc. Report

develops, manufactures and markets household, personal care and specialty products under well-recognized brand names such as Arm & Hammer, Brillo, Kaboom, OxiClean, and Trojan. We have rated Church & Dwight a buy since November 2001.

For the third quarter of fiscal 2008, Church & Dwight reported that its earnings declined 5.3% year over year in the third quarter of fiscal 2008, hurt by higher operating expenses. Although net income fell to $48.99 million from $51.72 million in the prior year's quarter, earnings were reported at 73 cents per share excluding restructuring charges related to a plant closing, beating the consensus estimate of 69 cents per share. Net sales grew 8.7% compared with the third quarter of fiscal 2008. Revenue growth was reported across various businesses, including 9.7% growth from the Consumer Domestic segment and 4.3% growth from the Consumer International segment. According to the company, price increases, new products and increased distribution on key brands helped drive organic revenue growth in the quarter.

Looking forward to full-year fiscal 2008, the company reconfirmed its EPS guidance to a range of $2.83 and $2.85, which would represent a 15% to 16% increase over fiscal year 2007. The company also reconfirmed its forecast of organic revenue growth beyond 3% to 4%. Management announced that it was pleased with the organic revenue growth, increasing gross margin, tight management of overhead costs, and increased marketing spending during the third quarter. Bear in mind, however, that failure to achieve revenue from new products and increased prices may pose a threat to Church & Dwight's future financial performance. In addition, a decrease in demand for the company's products due to the slowdown in the U.S. economy could negatively impact revenue growth.

Ralcorp Holdings

( RAH) is a Missouri-based company that manufactures, distributes and markets store-brand (private label) food products in the grocery, mass merchandise, drug, and foodservice channels. Ralcorp has been rated a buy since February 2004. This rating is based on the company's strong revenue growth and higher earnings, along with its improved returns and solid debt management during the third quarter of fiscal 2008.

The company reported that its net sales in 12.9% year over year in the third quarter of fiscal 2008 due to volume gains across all segments and higher pricing in response to rising input costs. As a result of the sales gain, Ralcorp's earnings quadrupled to $45.8 million from $11.6 million in the third quarter of fiscal 2007. Strong fundamentals are another positive for this company, with cash balances surging from $55.9 million to $85.3 million, net operating cash flow increasing 20.7%, and a total debt decreasing 13.4%. Return on equity and return on assets improved 1,497 and 542 basis points, respectively. In addition, Ralcorp recently completed a merger with Kraft Food's Post cereals business for $2.60 billion.

The company's gross profit margin and operating margin deteriorated 145 and 83 basis points, respectively, as a result of rising raw material costs and transportation expenses. The company also appears to have a weak liquidity position, given its quick ratio of 0.69. Bear in mind that any failure to integrate recent acquisitions could hinder Ralcorp's future performance.



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offers personnel radiation monitoring to measure the dosages of x-rays, gamma radiation and other penetrating ionizing radiation to which a person has been exposed. Our buy rating for Landauer has not changed since November 2001. Our rating is supported by the company's revenue growth, largely solid financial position, and increases in net income and earnings per share.

For the third quarter of fiscal 2008, Landauer reported that its revenue rose 6.4% year over year. This appears to have helped boost EPS, which improved by 47.6% when compared with the same quarter a year ago. Net income also increased for the third quarter, rising 48.3% from $3.91 million to $5.79 million. Landauer has no debt to speak of, and with a quick ratio of 1.69 should be able to cover its short-term liquidity needs. Additionally, Landauer also increased its net operating cash flow slightly by 5.24% when compared with the same quarter last year.

Management announced that it was pleased with the revenue and earnings growth during the third quarter and expressed confidence in the company's ability to continue generating strong cash flow. Landauer now anticipates full-year fiscal 2008 results at the upper end of previously announced ranges of 4% to 5% growth in revenue and 6% to 8% growth in net income.

Steris Corporation

(STE) - Get STERIS plc (Ireland) Report

develops, manufactures and markets infection prevention, contamination control, microbial reduction and surgical and critical support products and services. decontamination. We have rated Steris a buy since September 2006 due to the company's compelling growth in net income, solid stock price performance, and impressive record of EPS growth.

For the second quarter of fiscal 2009, the company reported that its revenues increased 9.5% year over year. While the company's revenue underperformed when compared with the industry average of 18.3% growth, its second-quarter revenues do appear to have helped significantly improve its EPS, which improved from 25 cents a year ago to 49 cents despite having reported somewhat volatile earnings recently. Net income increased 79.8% when compared to prior year's quarter, rising from $16.02 million to $28.79 million.

Management reported that it was happy with the second quarter results, which showed new products contributing to the company's growth. Based on its performance in the first half of fiscal 2009, Steris has also updated its outlook for the full fiscal year. Revenue growth is now expected to be towards the high end of the previously announced guidance range of 4% to 6%, while earnings could potentially surpass previous estimates and possibly result in full-year earnings per diluted share of $1.80.

Gentiva Health Services


and its subsidiaries provide home health and related services throughout the U.S. Our buy rating for Gentiva has not changed since November 2005. This rating is supported by the company's revenue growth, largely solid financial position, and expanding profit margins. Other strengths include a notable return on equity and good cash flow from operations.

For the third quarter of fiscal 2008, the company reported that its revenues rose 12.4% year over year. This growth appears to have helped boost EPS, which rose from 28 cents a year ago to $4.07 in the most recent quarter. Gentiva's return on equity improved greatly, rising from 9.46% to 31.13%. The company also has a gross profit margin of 45.10%, which we consider to be strong. In addition, the company's low debt-to-equity ratio of 0.54 implies that it has successfully managed debt levels, while a quick ratio of 1.59 indicates that Gentiva is able to cover its short-term liquidity needs.

Looking ahead, Gentiva adjusted its revenue outlook and raised its earnings outlook for full year fiscal 2008 based on the performance to date of its Home Health segment. The company now expects net revenues ranging between $1.28 billion to $1.30 billion, and anticipates diluted earnings per share to be between $1.47 and $1.51, up from the $1.36 to $1.43 range previously provided. Although no company is perfect, we do not currently see any significant weaknesses which are likely to detract from Gentiva's generally positive outlook.

Our quantitative rating 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.

This article was written by a staff member of Ratings.