Top Five Fast-Growth Stocks: April 14

Becton Dickinson, Axsys, Atwood Oceanics and two classes of America Movil shares are on top.
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Each business day, 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 is based on data from the close of the previous trading session. Today, fast-growth stocks are in the spotlight. These are stocks of companies that are projected to increase revenue and profit by at least 12% in the coming year and rank near the top all stocks rated by our proprietary quantitative model, which looks at over 60 factors.

In addition, the stocks must be followed by at least one financial analyst who posts estimates on the Institutional Brokers' Estimate System. Please note that definitions of revenue vary by industry, and this screen does not make adjustments for acquisitions, which can materially affect posted results. Likewise, earnings-per-share growth may be affected by accounting charges, share repurchases and other one-time items.

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.

Becton Dickinson

(BDX) - Get Report

is a medical technology company that manufactures and sells a broad range of medical supplies, devices, laboratory equipment and diagnostic products worldwide. The company has been rated buy since December 2005.

Becton Dickinson displayed healthy financial results in the fourth quarter of 2007. Revenue increased 13% to $1.65 billion due to strong segment sales and favorable currency movements. Net income increased 49% to $259.8 million due to top-line growth, margin expansion, and income from discontinued operations. Finally, the company increased its quarterly dividend 16% to 28 cents a share.

Looking forward, we expect Becton Dickinson to benefit from its growth strategies, namely focusing on products that deliver greater benefits to users and achieving operating effectiveness and productivity to accelerate progress. In addition, the increased quarterly dividend combined with a share repurchase program and higher earnings expectations for fiscal 2008 should further increase the company's return on equity.



designs and manufactures precision optical solutions (such as thermal imaging cameras, stabilized camera systems, motion control systems and scanning systems) for use by the U.S. government and high-performance commercial markets in aerospace, defense and other applications. Axsys also distributes precision ball bearings used in a variety of industrial and commercial applications.

In the fourth quarter of 2007, the company recorded strong financial performance. Strong demand for both Axsys' traditional business and the recently acquired gyro-stabilized gimbal business helped generate revenues of $47.9 million, vs. $33.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2006. Sales increased 42% year over year to a record $47.9 million. The company reports that its backlog increased to a record $140 million, which is a 21% increase from the year-ago quarter. This increase was due to strong demand for infrared cameras and lenses, gimbal systems and military-grade motion control systems.

For full-year 2008, management now expects to generate sales in the range of $208 million to $212 million, up from the previously forecast $193 million to $197 million. Management also expects diluted earnings per share to be between $1.70 and $1.75, up from the previous guidance of $1.57 to $1.60. However, any significant reduction or delay in purchase of the company's products by the U.S. government could have an adverse effect on Axsys' performance, as the company derives a significant portion of its revenue from this source.

Atwood Oceanics


is a Houston-based international drilling contractor, engaging in the offshore drilling and completion of exploratory and developmental oil and gas wells worldwide. The company also provides related support, management and consulting services.

We have rated this company a buy since September 2004, based on its revenue growth, solid financial position, EPS improvement and solid stock performance. Revenue rose 49% year over year for the fourth quarter of 2007 to $121.6 million. Atwood's debt-to-equity ratio is very low at 0.03, implying that successful debt management. During the past fiscal year, the company increased its bottom line by earning $4.37 a share vs. $2.75 a share in the previous year. Atwood has demonstrated a pattern of positive EPS growth over the past two years. The stock has surged 72% over the past year, powered by its strong earnings growth of 128%.

Although almost any stock can fall in a broad market decline, Atwood should continue to move higher despite the fact that it has already seen a substantial gain in the past year. Risks to the rating include any pricing fluctuations in the oil and gas industry, the company's ability to secure adequate financing, and governmental regulation and environmental matters.

América Movil

(AMOV) - Get Report

is the largest wireless company in Latin America. The company provides a number of wireless and data services, including short message service (SMS), multimedia message service (MMS), mobile connection, localization services, internet access and BlackBerry service. It began in September 2000 through a spinoff from Telmex (Teléfonos de México). América Movil has grown from having operations Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador, and the U.S. to serving 153.4 million subscribers in 17 countries. The company's services operate under various brand names, such as Telcel, Claro, CTI Movil, Comcel, Codetel, PRT, and Porta.

Our buy rating for América Movil has not changed since April 2005. Strengths include robust revenue growth, notable return on equity (ROE) and impressive EPS growth. For the fourth quarter of fiscal 2007, revenue rose 25% year over year. This growth appears to have helped boost EPS, which improved 43%. In fact, the company has demonstrated a pattern of positive EPS growth over the past 2 years. Current ROE exceeded the result from the year-ago quarter, which we see as a clear sign of strength within the company. Finally, net income increased to $1.52 billion from $1.04 billion in the fourth quarter of 2006.

Powered by strong earnings growth and other factors, this stock has surged 32% over the past year. Although almost any stock can fall in a broad market decline, we feel that the company's strengths outweigh its poor debt management, and therefore we believe that the stock should move higher despite its nice gain.

América Movil

(AMX) - Get Report

is the New York Stock Exchange equivalent of AMOV, which is traded on NASDAQ. This stock represents the company's L series shares, which make up 65% of the company's capital but are non-voting shares. By contrast, the AMOV stock represents the company's A series of voting shares.

This stock has been rated a buy since June 2004. Refer to the section above for details on the company's performance.

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 that a rating alone cannot tell the whole story and that it should be part of an investor's overall research.

This article was written by a staff member of Ratings.