Each weekday, TheStreet.com Ratings compiles a list of the top five 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.

This list, updated daily, is based on data from the close of the previous trading session. Today, mid-cap stocks are in the spotlight. These are stocks of companies that have market capitalizations of between $500 million and $10 billion that rank near the top of all stocks rated by TheStreet.com Ratings' proprietary quantitative model, which looks at more than 60 factors. The stocks must also be followed by at least one financial analyst who posts estimates on the Institutional Brokers' Estimate System. They are ordered by their potential to appreciate.

Note that no provision is made for off-balance-sheet assets such as unrealized appreciation/depreciation of investments, market value of real estate or contingent liabilities that might affect book value. This could be material for some companies with large underfunded pension plans.


Today starts with AllianceBernstein ( AB), which provides diversified investment management to a broad range of clients. It has been rated a buy since March 2005. The company shows a number of positive financial measures, including a striking record of EPS growth, robust revenue growth and a very high gross profit margin.

These impressive financial strengths justify the relatively high price of the stock, because the company shows no other significant weaknesses.


Albemarle ( ALB) develops, manufactures and markets specialty chemicals around the world. It has been rated a buy since March 2005. The company's strengths include notable return on equity, impressive increases in net income and a compelling record of EPS growth over the past two years.

These positives outweigh the company's low profit margins. Albemarle's stock has shown a dramatic appreciation, making it relatively expensive compared with its industry peers. Nevertheless, its other strengths justify the higher price levels.


Rated a buy since May 2006, Markwest Energy Partners ( MWE) processes and transmits natural gas and crude oil in the Southwest, Northeast and the Gulf Coast. The company shows robust revenue growth, outstanding net income growth and significantly increased net operating cash flow.

These strengths outweigh the facts that Markwest has displayed generally poor debt management on most measures evaluated by TheStreet.com Ratings.


FactSet Research Systems ( FDS) supplies financial intelligence to investment companies worldwide, and it has garnered a buy rating since March 2005. The company shows steady revenue growth, solid stock performance and a notable record of EPS growth. It also sports a minuscule debt-to-equity ratio, demonstrating very successful management of debt levels.

These strengths outweigh the company's somewhat disappointing return on equity.


Designer and clothing manufacturer Polo Ralph Lauren ( RL) has sported a buy rating since March 2005. The company shows revenue growth that outpaces the industry average, and it has compelling growth in net income and widening profit margins. Polo Ralph Lauren has had consistent EPS growth over the past 24 months.

The company may show a few minor weaknesses, but they are unlikely to have a significant impact on results.

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