Every day TheStreet.com Ratings compiles a list of the top 10 stocks in five categories -- fast-growth, all-around value, large-cap, mid-cap and small-cap -- and publishes these lists on the Ratings section of our Web site.

The rankings are based on our ratings, which assess risk-adjusted returns, as well as other criteria specific to the type of stock.

We update the lists at the end of the business day based on information available at the close of the previous trading session. Beginning this week, we are publishing a daily article that takes a closer look at the ratings of the stocks on one of the lists.

Today we'll look at large-cap stocks. These are stocks with a market capitalization of over $10 billion that rate near the top of TheStreet.com Ratings' coverage universe. In addition, the stocks must be followed by at least one financial analyst who posts earnings estimates on IBES.

McDonald's ( MCD) has been rated a buy since August 2004. The fast-food chain's strengths include a solid financial performance driven by same-store sales growth, and strong shareholder returns. Also, the company is expected to benefit from its continued effort to develop new restaurants worldwide -- it expects to open 1,000 restaurants in China alone by 2008.

However, the risk to the company's operations and buy rating are the cultural, economic and regulatory challenges in the country. Market disruptions due to severe weather, terrorism, health epidemics or pandemics (such as the avian flu) can affect consumer spending and confidence levels and adversely affect MCD's sales.


Lincoln National ( LNC) operates insurance and investment management products and services in the U.S. and U.K. and has been a buy since September 2004. In April 2006, LNC completed the acquisition of Jefferson-Pilot Corporation, one of the nation's largest life insurance companies. After the acquisition, LNC ranks among the industry leaders across all its product lines and expects annualized, pretax cost saving of approximately $180 million starting from the third year of the acquisition.

We are positive on the earnings growth potential of LNC due to the Jefferson-Pilot acquisition as well as the projected strong demand from the baby boomer generation for various savings and protection products. The main risk to the buy rating, however, includes any roadblocks in the integration with Jefferson-Pilot, any undue decline in equity market leading to a fall in account value, and any adverse regulatory development.


Investment firm Franklin Resources ( BEN) has had a buy rating since July 2005. The company has had a consistent track record of its funds, increasing its presence in international markets, especially in emerging markets. Franklin also is consistently showing improvement in its profitability. However, any adverse change in beneficial tax treatment from foreign earnings can hurt its results.

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