Each weekday, 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 in the Ratings section of our Web site. The top 10 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 on the basis of 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 small-cap stocks. These are stocks with a market capitalization of less than $500 million 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 Institutional Brokers' Estimate System. The stocks are ranked in the order of their potential to appreciate. Up first this week is Cherokee ( CHKE), which has been rated a buy since December 2004. Cherokee markets and licenses the trademarks and brands it owns or represents for clothes, home furnishings and recreational products. The company's strengths include notable return on equity, revenue growth, a largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, expanding profit margins and solid stock performance. TheStreet.com Ratings feels these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows weak operating cash flow. Rentrak ( RENT) collects, processes, analyzes and presents rental and sales data on DVDs, videocassettes and video games leased/licensed to home video specialty stores. The company serves clients in the media, entertainment, retail, advertising and manufacturing industries, and it has been rated buy since December 2004. Rentrak is in a largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, with expanding profit margins. We believe these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows weak operating cash flow. The return on equity has improved slightly when compared with the fiscal second quarter one year prior. This can be construed as a modest strength in the organization. Powered by its strong earnings growth of 70% and other important driving factors, this stock has surged by 74.35% over the past year, as of Jan. 3, outperforming the rise in the S&P 500 index during the same period. Despite its growing revenue, the company underperformed when compared with the industry average of 20.1%. Dynamex ( DDMX) provides same-day delivery and logistics services in the U.S. and Canada. It has been rated a buy since December 2004. The company's strengths include its notable return on equity, revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, solid stock price performance and impressive record of earnings-per-share growth.