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Top Five Mid-Cap Stocks

Greif, Energen, Lindsay Corp., FTI Consulting and Atwood Oceanics are all on top.

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 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.


(GEF) - Get Free Report

produces industrial packaging products, operating manufacturing facilities in over 40 countries. The company also produces containerboard and corrugated products for niche markets in the U.S., and sells timber to third parties from its timberland in the southeastern part of the country. Greif has been rated buy since January 2006.

Greif's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its healthy revenue growth, solid stock price performance, growth in earnings per share, increase in net income, and good cash flow from operations. In the fourth quarter of 2007, the company's revenue grew 19.9% year over year. Net income increased by 31.7%, rising from $41.74 million to $54.98 million. Earnings per share improved by 30.3%. The company's strong earnings growth helped fuel an increase in the company's stock price. Finally, net operating cash flow has significantly increased by 156.64% to $222.61 million when compared to the same quarter last year.

Looking forward, we feel that the company's demonstrated pattern of EPS growth over the past two years should continue. Despite sluggish market conditions in North America, management expects the company to remain on track for another year of record performance in fiscal year 2008.



is an energy holding company that engages in the acquisition, development, exploration, and production of oil, natural gas, and natural gas liquids in the United States. The company has been rated a buy since January 2006.

A number of positive investment measures should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. Energen's revenue increased slightly in the fourth quarter of 2007, rising 8.1%. The company's profit margins have also expanded year over year. The gross profit margin is currently 50.5%, compared with 40.59% in fourth-quarter 2006. The net profit margin is currently 22.6%. Finally, the company has shown solid stock performance. The share price jumped 35.8% compared to its closing price one year ago.

Although the company has reported somewhat volatile earnings recently, we feel that Energen's stock should continue to move higher, even though it has already enjoyed a very nice gain in the past year. However, any significant decline in natural gas and oil prices may negatively affect the company's business. Any unfavorable regulatory movements could also affect the company's future financial performance.

Lindsay Corporation

(LNN) - Get Free Report

manufactures and sells automated agricultural irrigation systems. These systems help the agricultural industry increase or stabilize production while conserving water, energy and labor. Lindsay's principal manufacturing facilities are located in Lindsay, Neb., but the company also has foreign sales and production facilities in France, Brazil, and South Africa, providing it with important bases of operation in key international markets.

The company has been rated a buy since March 2007, based on strengths such as robust revenue growth, compelling growth in net income and a largely solid financial position. Revenues rose 47.3% in first quarter, 2008 compared with the same period a year ago. Net sales grew from $51.53 million in first quarter of 2007 to $75.93 million in first quarter of 2008. Net income increased by 144.9% during the same period, rising from $1.78 million to $4.37 million.

Powered by its strong earnings growth of 140% and other important driving factors, the stock has surged 91.94% over the past year. While this sharp appreciation means the stock trades at a premium compared with the rest of the industry, we feel that the company's other strengths justify the price levels. Furthermore, management expects a higher domestic demand for its products during the irrigation selling season and predicts an increase in international demand on the strength of higher agricultural prices.

FTI Consulting

(FCN) - Get Free Report

provides consulting services to organizations confronting legal, financial and reputational issues. The company has capabilities in specialized industries, including telecommunications, health care, pharmaceuticals and utilities. The company has offices in 25 U.S. cities, as well as London, England and Melbourne, Australia. FTI Consulting has been rated a buy since November 2005.

Our recommendation is based on the company's strong revenue and net income growth, expanding margins, higher returns, and positive outlook. Third-quarter 2007 revenue jumped 56.1% year over year to $253.33 million. Gross profit margins expanded 170 basis points from the same period last year to 47.20%, while operating margins increased 187 basis points to 19.30%. Net income was $22.98 million, or $0.50 per share, vs. a net loss of $0.29 million, or $0.01 per share, in the third quarter of 2006.

During the quarter, FTI Consulting closed a public offering of 4.83 million shares of its common stock at $50.00 per share. Net proceeds from the offering were $232 million, which will be used for general corporation purposes, including the continuation of its strategic acquisition program.

Looking forward, the company reiterated its fiscal year 2007 EPS estimate in the range of $1.92 to $2.00. However, merger-related challenges and the company's failure to retain or hire additional qualified professionals in the wake of former employees joining the competition could negatively affect the the stock.

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 January 2006, based on its revenue growth, largely solid financial position, earnings per share growth, and solid stock performance. Revenue rose by 48.6% in the fourth quarter of 2007 $121.6 million, up from $81.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2006. Atwood's debt-to-equity ratio is very low at 0.03, implying that the company has been very successful at managing debt levels. During the past fiscal year, the company increased its bottom line by earning $4.37 versus $2.75 in the prior year. Atwood has demonstrated a pattern of positive EPS growth over the past two years. Finally, the stock has surged 71.78% over the past year, powered by its strong earnings growth of 128.37%.

Although almost any stock can fall in a broad market decline, Atwood should continue to move higher despite its substantial gain over 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.

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 impact 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.