The following ratings changes were generated on Tuesday, Nov. 18.

We've downgraded

Frontline

(FRO) - Get Report

, which engages in the ownership and operation of oil tankers, from buy to hold. Strengths include its robust revenue growth, notable return on equity and expanding profit margins. However, as a counter to these strengths, we find that the company has not been very careful in the management of its balance sheet.

Revenue leaped by 57.8% since the same quarter a year ago, exceeding the industry average of 29.7% growth and boosting earnings per share significantly in the most recent quarter compared with the same quarter a year ago. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past year, which we feel should continue, suggesting improving business performance. During the past fiscal year, Frontline increased its bottom line by earning $7.55 vs. $6.72 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings to $7.82.

The debt-to-equity ratio is very high at 5.09 and currently higher than the industry average, implying very poor management of debt levels within the company. Shares are down by a sharp 25.28% on the year, but that decline was actually not as bad as the broader market plunge during the same time frame. One factor that may have helped cushion the fall somewhat was the year-over-year improvement in the company's EPS. In one sense, the stock's sharp decline last year is a positive for future investors, making it cheaper (in proportion to its earnings over the past year) than most other stocks in its industry. But due to other concerns, we feel the stock is still not a good buy right now.

We've downgraded

Lennox International

(LII) - Get Report

, which engages in the design, manufacture and marketing of a range of products for heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration markets, from buy to hold. Strengths include its growth in earnings per share, notable return on equity and good cash flow from operations. However, as a counter to these strengths, we find that the company's profit margins have been poor overall.

Lennox has improved earnings per share by 9.1% in the most recent quarter compared with the same quarter a year ago. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past two years, which we feel should continue. During the past fiscal year, it increased its bottom line by earning $2.44 vs. $2.26 in the prior year, and this year, the market expects further improvement to $2.69. Current return on equity exceeded its ROE from the same quarter one year prior, a clear sign of strength within the company. On the basis of ROE, Lennox outperforms both the building products industry and the

S&P 500

.

The gross profit margin is currently lower than what is desirable, coming in at 30.20%, though it has managed to increase from the same period last year. Net operating cash flow has remained constant at $116.00 million, with no significant change when comparedwith the same quarter last year. Along with maintaining stable cash flow from operations, the firm exceeded the industry average cash flow growth rate of -39.51%.

Although LII's shares are off by a sharp 35.49% compared with one year ago, the decline was actually not as bad as the broader market plunge during that same time frame. One factor that may have helped cushion the fall somewhat was the year-over-year improvement in the company's EPS. In one sense, the stock's sharp decline last year is a positive for future investors, making it cheaper (in proportion to its earnings over the past year) than most other stocks in its industry. But due to other concerns, we feel the stock is still not a good buy right now.

We've downgraded

MasterCard

(MA) - Get Report

from hold to sell, driven by its deteriorating net income, disappointing return on equity and decline in the stock price during the past year.

Net income decreased by 161.6% compared with the same quarter a year ago, to -$193.58 million, significantly underperforming the IT services industry and the S&P 500. Return on equity has greatly decreased when compared to its ROE from the same quarter one year prior, a signal of major weakness within the corporation. MasterCard's ROE significantly trails both the industry average and the S&P 500.

MasterCard has experienced a steep decline in earnings per share of 164.5% 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, it increased its bottom line by earning $7.99 vs. 36 cents in the prior year. This year, the market expects further improvement in earnings to $8.84. MasterCard's gross profit margin of 43.1% is strong, having increased from the same quarter last year.

Shares are down 26.58% on the year. Naturally, the overall market trend is boundto be a significant factor, and in one sense, the stock's sharp decline last year is a positive for future investors, making it cheaper (in proportion to its earnings over the past year) than most other stocks in its industry. But due to other concerns, we feel the stock is still not a good buy right now.

We've downgraded

Merck

(MRK) - Get Report

, which provides products for human andanimal health, from buy to hold. Strengths include its largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, expanding profit margins and notable return on equity. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including weak operating cash flow, deteriorating net income and a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself.

The current debt-to-equity ratio, 0.35, is low and is below the industry average, implying successful management of debt levels. Although the company had a strong debt-to-equity ratio, its quick ratio of 0.73 is somewhat weak and could be cause for future problems. The gross profit margin is currently very high, coming in at 82.30%, but it has managed to decrease from the same period last year. The net profit margin of 18.40% trails the industry average. Revenue dropped by 2.1% since the same quarter last year, and EPS decreased. Net operating cash flow has decreased to $1,652.00 million, or 45.40% compared with the same quarter last year. In addition, when comparing the cash generation rate to the industry average, the firm's growth is significantly lower.

Shares are down 55.5% on the year, underperforming the S&P 500, and EPS are down 27.1% compared with the year-earlier quarter. Naturally, the overall market trend is bound to be a significant factor, and in one sense, the stock's sharp decline last year is a positive for future investors, making it cheaper (in proportion to its earnings over the past year) than most other stocks in its industry. But due to other concerns, we feel the stock is still not a good buy right now.

We've upgraded

Range Resources

(RRC) - Get Report

, which engages in the exploration, development and acquisition of oil and gas properties, from hold to buy, driven by its robust revenue growth, expanding profit margins, good cash flow from operations, compelling growth in net income and notable return on equity. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had generally poor debt management on most measures that we evaluated.

Revenue leaped by 159.3% since the same quarter a year ago, exceeding the industry average of 29.7% growth and boosting EPS. Net income increased by 384.3%, to $285.3 million, outperforming the S&P 500 and the oil, gas and consumable fuels industry. The gross profit margin is currently very high, coming in at 91.5%, having increased from the same quarter last year. The net profit margin of 45.9% significantly outperformed the industry average. Net operating cash flow has increased to $255.5 million, or 42.7% when compared with the same quarter last year, and the firm also exceeded the industry average cash flow growth rate of 12.8%. The return on equity has improved slightly when compared with the same quarter one year prior, which can be construed as a modest strength in the organization. Range Resources outperforms the S&P 500 on the basis of ROE but underperforms the industry average.

Other ratings changes include

Omniture

( OMTR) and

Gmarket

( GMKT), both downgraded from hold to sell.

All ratings changes generated on Nov. 18 are listed below.

Ticker

Company

Current

Change

Previous

ATHN

AthenaHealth

SELL

Initiated

CTCT

Constant Contact

SELL

Initiated

CTWS

Connecticut Water

HOLD

Downgrade

BUY

FRO

Frontline

HOLD

Downgrade

BUY

GMKT

Gmarket

SELL

Downgrade

HOLD

HMPR

Hampton Roads

HOLD

Downgrade

BUY

HSIC

Henry Schein

HOLD

Downgrade

BUY

ICE

IntercontinentalExchange

HOLD

Upgrade

SELL

IGTE

iGate

HOLD

Downgrade

BUY

KOP

Koppers

SELL

Downgrade

HOLD

LII

Lennox

HOLD

Downgrade

BUY

LWSN

Lawson Software

SELL

Downgrade

HOLD

MA

MasterCard

SELL

Downgrade

HOLD

MRK

Merck

HOLD

Downgrade

BUY

NEU

NewMarket

HOLD

Downgrade

BUY

OMRI

Omrix Biopharmaceuticals

HOLD

Upgrade

SELL

OMTR

Omniture

SELL

Downgrade

HOLD

PVX

Provident Energy

HOLD

Upgrade

SELL

QCOM

Qualcomm

HOLD

Downgrade

BUY

RCKB

Rockville Financial

SELL

Downgrade

HOLD

RRC

Range Resources

BUY

Upgrade

HOLD

SNH

Senior Housing Properties Trust

HOLD

Downgrade

BUY

TKC

Turkcell

HOLD

Downgrade

BUY

TRLG

True Religion

HOLD

Downgrade

BUY

TROW

T. Rowe Price Group

HOLD

Downgrade

BUY

TSON

Trans1

SELL

Initiated

VSCI

Vision-Sciences

SELL

Downgrade

HOLD

YTEC

Yucheng Technologies

SELL

Downgrade

HOLD

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. 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.

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