Each weekday, 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 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. Boots & Coots International Well Control ( WEL) has been downgraded to hold from buy. Its debt-to-equity ratio of 0.80 is high compared with the industry average. While the company saw revenue increase by 93.2% in the first quarter of 2007 over the year-earlier period, this growth does not seem to have trickled down to its bottom line, as earnings per share actually declined during the period. Boots & Coots' stock price fell 5.5% in the 12 months prior to July 13, and TheStreet.com Ratings does not see anything in the company's numbers to suggest the stock price will reverse its downward trend. Boots & Coots had been rated a buy since March 2007. Frequency Electronics ( FEIM) designs and manufactures high-precision timing, frequency control and synchronization products for space and terrestrial voice, video and data telecommunications. It has been downgraded to a sell from a hold. The company's net income underperformed that of the S&P 500 and of the electronic equipment and instruments industry. Its return on equity for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2007 was down 0.36% over the year-earlier period -- a clear sign of weakness within the company. Frequency Electronics had been rated a hold since August 2006.
Lifestyle media company Gaiam ( GAIA) has been upgraded to a buy from a hold. The company has a pattern of positive EPS growth over the past two years, a trend that should continue. Its net income increased 96.85% in the first quarter of 2007 compared with the same period last year, exceeding that of the S&P 500 and the Internet and catalog retail industry. The company has no debt to speak of, and its quick ratio, the ratio of cash, marketable securities and accounts receivable divided by current liablities, of 4.30 demonstrates its ability to cover short-term cash needs. Gaiam had been rated a hold since November 2006. Semtech ( SMTC) produces and markets mixed-signal semiconductors. It has been upgraded to a buy from a hold. It has a debt-to-equity ratio of zero, and expanding profit margins. The company's stock price has increased by 42.09% over the past year, making it somewhat expensive compared with the rest of its industry. Given its strengths, the higher price is justified. Although Semtech has seen a declining pattern of EPS over the past two years, TheStreet.com Ratings expects this to reverse over the coming year. It had been rated a hold since May 2006. TheStreet.com Ratings has initiated coverage of the business development company Technology Investment Capital ( TICC) with a buy rating. The company's revenue increased 37.30% in the first quarter of 2007 compared with the same period last year, exceeding the industry average of 6.3%. It's debt-to-equity ratio of 0.21 is below the industry average, implying very successful management of debt levels. The stock has risen 12.46% over the past year, lagging the S&P 500, but it still shows good upside potential.