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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. 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.


(GEF) - Get Greif Inc. Class A Report

manufactures and distributes industrial packaging products. It has been rated a buy since December 2005. The company maintains a largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels, robust revenue and EPS growth, and a solid stock price performance. These strengths should outweigh the company's low profit margin.

Fiscal-year fourth-quarter revenue climbed 19.9% over a year ago, outpacing the industry average of 14.3%. EPS increased 30.3% over the same period. Greif has demonstrated a pattern of positive EPS growth over the past two years, and this trend is expected to continue. In addition, its debt-to-equity ratio of 0.68 is less than that of the industry average, implying that there has been relatively successful management of debt levels.

On the whole, the containers and packaging industry has performed reasonably well since the U.S. economy emerged from recession in the early part of the decade, but threats to profitability abound, depending on product mix and end-market exposure. Rising fuel prices could also adversely affect the company's results.


( GR), which supplies aerospace and defense security products, has been rated a buy since November 2005.

Third-quarter revenue rose 14.8% to $1.40 billion over the year-earlier period. Revenue growth was driven by double-digit growth in the actuation and landings systems division as well as the nacelles and interior systems segment. During the same timeframe, net income rose 25.9% to $126.80 million from $100.70 million, while earnings rose to $1.10 per share from 79 cents a share in the third quarter of last year.

Any decline in government spending and the weakened condition of the airline industry are some of the downside risks.

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( DC), a financial research company, has been rated a buy since December 2005. The company operates from a largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, solid stock price performance, compelling growth in net income and revenue and good cash flow from operations.

While the company may harbor some minor weaknesses, they do not appear likely to have a significant impact on results. Third-quarter net income increased 46.7% from the same period a year earlier to $39.34 million, or 40 cents a share. Revenue climbed 12% to $175 million in the same time frame.


(ATR) - Get AptarGroup Inc. Report

manufactures and sells dispensing systems to the personal care, cosmetic, pharmaceutical and food/beverage markets worldwide. It has been rated a buy since October 2005.

Third-quarter revenue increased 19.9% over a year ago to $485.7 million, powered by strong sales, favorable exchange-rate movements and acquisitions. These factors, along with lower net interest expense and lower tax rates, boosted net income by 39.5% to $39.48 million for the quarter. AptarGroup also implemented a share buyback program authorizing the repurchase of about $19.70 million worth of stock during the fourth quarter.

In addition to noting its financial performance, Ratings is encouraged by the company's solid fourth-quarter earnings outlook, its initiatives to increase shareholder returns and its strong balance sheet.

The buy rating is not without risk. AptarGroup operates in highly competitive markets, especially in regards to price. This, together with increasing raw material costs over the past few years, could impact the company's operating results.


(FMC) - Get FMC Corporation Report

, a chemical company, has been rated a buy since December 2005. The company has a largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels, a solid stock price performance, good cash flow from operations, and EPS and revenue growth. These strengths outweigh the fact that its return on equity has been somewhat disappointing.

Third-quarter earnings grew to 48 cents a share, up from 44 cents a share a year ago. Revenue increased nearly 10% over the same period.

Investors have apparently begun to recognize FMC's positive factors, as the company's shares are up 43.38% in the 12 months prior to Dec. 14. The stock's sharp rise has already helped drive it to a level that is relatively expensive compared with the rest of its industry, but Ratings feels that other strengths FMC displays justify these higher price levels.