Each business day,

TheStreet.com

Ratings updates its ratings on the stocks it covers. The proprietary ratings model projects a stock's total return potential over a 12-month period, including both price appreciation and dividends. Buy, hold or sell ratings designate how the Ratings group expects these stocks to perform against a general benchmark of the equities market and interest rates.

While the ratings model is quantitative, it uses both subjective and objective elements. For instance, subjective elements include expected equities market returns, future interest rates, implied industry outlook and company earnings forecasts. Objective elements include volatility of past operating revenue, financial strength and company cash flows.

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.

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For those reasons, we believe a rating alone cannot tell the whole story, and that it should be part of an investor's overall research.

The following ratings changes were generated on September 9.

Dean Foods

(DF) - Get Report

has been upgraded from sell to hold. Dean Foods, together with its subsidiaries, operates as a food and beverage company in the U.S. It operates in two segments, Dairy Group and WhiteWave Foods. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its increase in net income, revenue growth and good cash flow fromoperations. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including a decline in the stock price during the past year, generally poor debt management and poor profit margins.

The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the

S&P 500

and the food products industry. The net income increased by 72.0% when compared with the same quarter one year prior, rising from $28.42 million to $48.89 million.

DF's revenue growth trails the industry average of 37.4%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenue has slightly increased by 9.1%. This growth in revenue appears to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, improving the earnings per share.

DF has improved earnings per share by 47.6% in the most-recent quarter compared with the same quarter a year ago. This company has reported somewhat volatile earnings recently. But, we feel it is poised for EPS growth in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, DF reported lower earnings of 97 cents vs. $2.02 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($1.25 vs. 97 cents).

DF is off 8.06% from its price level of one year ago, reflecting the general market trend and ignoring its higher earnings per share compared with the year-earlier quarter. Looking ahead, other than the push or pull of the broad market, we do not see anything in the company's numbers that may help reverse the decline experienced over the past 12 months. Despite the past decline, the stock is still selling for more than most others in its industry.

The debt-to-equity ratio is very high at 8.37 and currently higher than the industry average, implying that there is very poor management of debt levels within the company. Along with the unfavorable debt-to-equity ratio, DF maintains a poor quick ratio of 0.72, which illustrates the inability to avoid short-term cash problems.

DF had been rated a sell since August 31, 2007.

Gafisa S.A.

(GFA) - Get Report

has been downgraded from hold to sell. Gafisa S.A., together with its subsidiaries, operates as a homebuilder in Brazil. The area that we believe has been the company's primary weakness has been its poor profit margins.

The gross profit margin for GFA is currently lower than what is desirable, coming in at 33.50%. Regardless of GFA's low profit margin, it has managed to increase from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, GFA's net profit margin of 13.00% significantly outperformed against the industry.

GFA's debt-to-equity ratio of 0.69 is somewhat low overall, but it is high when compared with the industry average, implying that the management of the debt levels should be evaluated further. Despite the fact that GFA's debt-to-equity ratio is mixed in its results, the company's quick ratio of 1.86 is high and demonstrates strong liquidity.

When compared with other companies in the household durables industry and the overall market, GFA's return on equity is below that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.

GFA reported significant earnings per share improvement in the most-recent quarter compared with the same quarter a year ago. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive EPS growth over the past year. We feel that this trend should continue. This trend suggests that the performance of the business is improving. During the past fiscal year, GFA turned its bottom line around by earning 98 cents vs. -11 cents in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($1.77 vs. 98 cents).

The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the household durables industry. The net income increased by 696.4% when compared with the same quarter one year prior, rising from -$6.10 million to $36.37 million.

GFA had been rated a hold since May 14, 2008.

Archer-Daniels-Midland

(ADM) - Get Report

has been downgraded from buy to hold. Archer-Daniels-Midland procures, transports, stores, processes and merchandises agricultural commodities and products primarily in the U.S. It operates in three segments: oilseeds processing, corn processing and agricultural services. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, attractive valuation levels and largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including feeble growth in the company's earnings per share, deteriorating net income and poor profit margins.

ADM's very impressive revenue growth greatly exceeded the industry average of 37.4%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenue has leaped by 78.3%. This growth in revenue does not appear to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, displayed by a decline in earnings per share.

ADM's debt-to-equity ratio of 0.82 is somewhat low overall, but it is high when compared with the industry average, implying that the management of the debt levels should be evaluated further. Regardless of the somewhat mixed results with the debt-to-equity ratio, the company's quick ratio of 1.01 is sturdy.

The gross profit margin for ADM is currently extremely low, coming in at 4.50%. It has decreased from the same quarter the previous year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 1.70% trails that of the industry average.

Net operating cash flow has significantly decreased to -$52.00 million or 114.90% when compared with the same quarter last year. In addition, when comparing it with the industry average, the firm's growth rate is much lower.

ADM had been rated a buy since September 8, 2006.

Cameco

(CCJ) - Get Report

has been downgraded from buy to hold. Cameco engages in the development and production of uranium worldwide. It operates in four segments: uranium, fuel services, electricity and gold. The uranium segment involves in the exploring for, developing, mining, and milling uranium ore to produce uranium concentrate. The company's strengths canbe seen in multiple areas, such as its expanding profit margins and notable return on equity. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself, unimpressive growth in net income and weak operating cash flow.

At 45.20%, we consider the gross profit margin for CCJ to be strong. Regardless of CCJ's high profit margin, it has managed to decrease from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, CCJ's net profit margin of 24.30% significantly outperformed against the industry.

The return on equity has improved slightly when compared with the same quarter one year prior. This can be construed as a modest strength in the organization. Compared with other companies in the oil, gas & consumable fuels industry and the overall market on the basis of return on equity, CCJ has underperformed in comparison with the industry average, but has exceeded that of the S&P 500.

CCJ's earnings per share declined by 23.6% in the most-recent quarter compared with the same quarter a year ago. This company has not demonstrated a clear trend in earnings over the past two years, making it difficult to accurately predict earnings for the coming year. During the past fiscal year, CCJ's increased its bottom line by earning $1.13 vs. $1.01 in the prior year.

Looking at the price performance of CCJ's shares over the past 12 months, there is not much good news to report: the stock is down 36.41%, and it has underperformed the S&P 500 Index. In addition, the company's earnings per share are lower today than the year-earlier quarter. Although its share price is down sharply from a year ago, do not assume that it can now be tagged as cheap and attractive. The reality is that, based on its current price in relation to its earnings, CCJ is still more expensive than most of the other companies in its industry.

Net operating cash flow has decreased to $113.18 million or 27.14% when compared with the same quarter last year. In addition, when comparing to the industry average, the firm's growth rate is much lower.

CCJ had been rated a buy since May 19, 2008.

Covidien

(COV)

has been initiated at hold. Covidien engages in the development, manufacture and sale of health care products for use in clinical and home settings worldwide. It operates through four segments: medical devices, pharmaceutical products, imaging solutions and medical supplies. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, solid stock price performance and impressive record of earnings per share growth. However, as a counter to these strengths, we find that the company has not been very careful in the management of its balance sheet.

COV's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 13.7%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenue rose by 14.4%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.

Powered by its strong earnings growth of 128.38% and other important driving factors, this stock has surged by 33.70% over the past year, outperforming the rise in the S&P 500 Index during the same period. Although COV had significant growth over the past year, our hold rating indicates that we do not recommend additional investment in this stock at the current time.

The gross profit margin for COV is rather high; currently it is at 57.50%. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Despite the strong results of the gross profit margin, COV's net profit margin of 10.40% significantly trails the industry average.

Despite currently having a low debt-to-equity ratio of 0.41, it is higher than that of the industry average, inferring that management of debt levels may need to be evaluated further. Despite the fact that COV's debt-to-equity ratio is mixed in its results, the company's quick ratio of 1.53 is high and demonstrates strong liquidity.

Additional ratings changes from September 9 are listed below.

Ticker

Company Name

Change

New Rating

Former Rating

ADM

Archer-Daniels Midland Co.

Downgrade

Hold

Buy

ALGT

Allegiant Travel Co.

Upgrade

Hold

Sell

AXRX

Amexdrug Corp.

Downgrade

Sell

Hold

BHIT

BHIT Inc.

Upgrade

Hold

Sell

CCJ

Cameco Corp.

Downgrade

Hold

Buy

COV

Covidien Ltd.

Initiated

Hold

CSBK

Clifton Savings Bancorp

Upgrade

Buy

Hold

DF

Dean Foods Co.

Upgrade

Hold

Sell

GFA

Gafisa SA

Downgrade

Sell

Hold

GLW

Corning Inc.

Downgrade

Hold

Buy

GRMN

Garmin Ltd.

Downgrade

Hold

Buy

GVSS

GVI Securities Solutions

Upgrade

Hold

Sell

ICO

International Coal Group Inc.

Downgrade

Sell

Hold

JRCC

James River Coal Co.

Downgrade

Sell

Hold

MASI

Masimo Corp.

Initiated

Hold

MMC

Marsh & McLennan Companies

Upgrade

Buy

Hold

OISI

Ophthalmic Imaging Systems Inc.

Downgrade

Sell

Hold

OPTR

Optimer Pharmaceuticals

Downgrade

Sell

Hold

OUTD

Outdoor Channel Holdings

Upgrade

Hold

Sell

PRSP

Prosperity Bancshares

Upgrade

Buy

Hold

SBIB

Sterling Bancshares Inc.

Upgrade

Buy

Hold

SCMR

Sycamore Networks Inc.

Downgrade

Sell

Hold

SEP

Spectra Energy Partners LP

Initiated

Hold

SJI

South Jersey Industries

Downgrade

Hold

Buy

THOR

Thoratec Corp

Upgrade

Buy

Hold

THS

Treehouse Foods Inc.

Upgrade

Buy

Hold

TR

Tootsie Rolls Industries Inc.

Upgrade

Buy

Hold

TWP

Trex Co. Inc.

Upgrade

Hold

Sell

UBA

Urstadt Biddle Properties

Upgrade

Buy

Hold

VVUS

Vivus Inc.

Upgrade

Buy

Sell

This article was written by a staff member of TheStreet.com Ratings.