The following ratings changes were generated on Monday, Feb. 23.

We've downgraded

Kinross Gold

(KGC) - Get Report

, which engages in mining and processing gold and silver ores, from buy to hold. Strengths include its robust revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and good cash flow from operations. However, we also find weaknesses including feeble growth in the company's earnings per share, deteriorating net income and disappointing return on equity.

Revenue leaped by an impressive 72.1% over the same quarter one year prior, outperforming the industry average of 6% growth, but earnings per share declined. Net income decreased from $173.1 million in the year-ago quarter to -$968.8 million, significantly underperforming the

S&P 500

and the metals and mining industry. Return on equity also greatly decreased, a signal of major weakness in the corproationg.

The company's debt-to-equity ratio is very low at 0.2 and is currently below the industry average, implying very successful debt-level management. The gross profit margin of 50.1% is rather high, having increased from the year-ago quarter, while the net profit margin or -200% is in line with the industry average.

We've upgraded

MasterCard

(MA) - Get Report

from sell to hold. Strengths include its revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and expanding profit margins. However, we also find weaknesses including deteriorating net income, disappointing return on equity and weak operating cash flow.

Revenue rose by 14.2% since the year-ago quarter, outpacing the industry average of 13.5% growth, but EPS declined. Net income decreased by 21.3%, from $304.2 million to $239.4 million, significantly underperforming the IT services industry but outperforming the S&P 500. ROE also greatly decreased, a signal of major weakness. MasterCard's 0.1 debt-to-equity ratio is very low and currently below the industry average, implying very successful management of debt levels. The company also maintains an adequate quick ratio of 1.2, illustrating its ability to avoid short-term cash problems.

We've downgraded real estate investment trust

Sunstone Hotel Investors

(SHO) - Get Report

from hold to sell, driven by its feeble growth in its earnings per share, deteriorating net income, disappointing return on equity, poor profit margins and weak operating cash flow.

Sunstone has experienced a steep EPS decline in the most recent quarter compared with the year-ago quarter, and we anticipate that its yearlong trend of declining EPS should continue in the coming year. Net income fell from $29.8 million in the year-ago quarter to -$6.3 million, significantly underperforming the S&P 500 and the REITs industry. ROE slightly decreased, implying a minor weakness in the organization. Net operating cash flow decreased to $30 million, or by 49.1% compared with the year-ago quarter.

Sunstone's 14.9% gross profit margin is extremely low, having decreased from the same quarter last year, and its -2.5% net profit margin is significantly below the industry average.

We've upgraded

Taseko Mines

(TGB) - Get Report

, which engages in the exploration, development and operation of mineral property interests in Canada, from sell to hold. Strengths include its revenue growth, attractive valuation levels and good cash flow from operations. However, we also find weaknesses including feeble growth in the company's earnings per share, deteriorating net income and poor profit margins.

Revenue increased by 6.7% since the same quarter a year ago, slightly outperforming the industry average, but EPS declined. Net income decreased by 45.7% to $6.9 million, underperforming the S&P 500 and the metals and mining industry. Taseko's debt-to-equity ratio is a very los 0.2, currently below the industry average, implying very successful management of debt levels. Its quick ratio, on the other hand, of 0.6 is low, displaying a potential problem in covering short-term cash needs.

We've upgraded

Whole Foods Market

( WFMI), which owns and operates natural and organic food supermarkets, from sell to hold. Strengths include its revenue growth, attractive valuation levels and good cash flow from operations. However, we also find weaknesses including feeble growth in the company's earnings per share, disappointing return on equity and a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself.

Revenue increased by 0.4% since the year-ago quarter, compared with industry average growth of 0.3%, but EPS declined by 28.6%. We anticipate that the company's two-year pattern of declining EPS should continue in the coming year. Whole Foods' 36.6% gross profit margin is strong, though it has decreased from the year-ago quarter. Its net profit margin of 1.3% trails the industry average. ROE decreased from the year-ago quarter, a clear sign of weakness within the company.

Other ratings changes included

ViroPharma

(VPHM)

, downgraded from buy to hold, and

Community Health Systems

(CYH) - Get Report

, upgraded from sell to hold.

All ratings changes generated on Feb. 23 are listed below.

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.