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. Broadcasting conglomerate CBS ( CBS.A) has been upgraded to a hold from a sell. The factors impacting its rating are mixed -- some indicating strength, some showing weakness. While its stock price has jumped by 31.47% over the past year, TheStreet.com Ratings does not recommend additional investment. Revenue increased by 2.3% in the first quarter of fiscal 2007 compared with the year-earlier period, trailing the industry average of 33.7%. Net income decreased by 5.9% over the same period. The company's 0.34 debt-to-equity ratio is low but still higher than the industry average. CBS had been rated a sell since March 2007. TheStreet.com Ratings has initiated coverage of Golfsmith International Holdings ( GOLF), a specialty retailer of golf and tennis equipment, with a sell rating. The company's net loss widened to $4.91 million in the first quarter of 2007 from $870,000 a year earlier. On a per-share basis, losses widened to 31 cents from 9 cents. Golfsmith's return on equity also deteriorated over that period. However, the company's debt-to-equity ratio of 0.46 is below the industry average, implying successful management of debt levels.
iLinc Communications ( ILC) provides Web conferencing and audio conferencing software and services. It has been downgraded to sell from hold. The company swung to a net loss of $200,000 in the fourth quarter of fiscal-year 2006 from a gain of $30,000 a year earlier. iLinc's revenue decreased by 2.57% during the same period. The company's debt-to-equity ratio of 1.21 is higher than that of the industry, suggesting the need for better debt level management. It has not demonstrated a clear trend in EPS over the past two years, making it difficult to accurately predict earnings for the coming year. iLinc had been rated a hold since October 2006. Automotive retailer Penske Automotive Group ( PAG) has been upgraded to a buy from a hold. Revenue increased 21.6% in the first quarter of 2007 over the year-earlier period, outpacing the industry average of 7.6%. Its stock price rose 7.53% over the past 12 months, lagging the S&P 500 over the same period. Penske's first-quarter EPS was down 39.3% on the year, and its earnings have been somewhat volatile recently. Nevertheless, TheStreet.com Ratings feels the company's EPS is poised to grow over the coming year. Penske had been rated a hold since July 3. QC Holdings ( QCCO) provides short-term consumer loans, also known as payday loans. It has been upgraded to a buy from a hold. The company's first-quarter revenue was up 26.2% on the year, outpacing the industry average of 22.6%. It has no debt to speak of, which is a favorable sign, and its first-quarter gross profit of 41.1% was up on the year. First-quarter earnings per share were up 41.7% on the year, and the company has had a pattern of positive EPS growth over the past year. QC had been rated a hold since November 2006.
Stewardship Financial Corporation ( SSFN) operates as a holding company for Atlantic Stewardship Bank. It has been upgraded to buy from hold. Stewardship's first-quarter revenue was up 13.7% on the year, although the growth does not appear to have trickled down to the company's bottom line. EPS declined by 4.11% over the same period, and the company has not shown a clear earnings trend over the past two years. Its stock price has risen 23.66% over the past 12 months, to a level that is relatively expensive compared with the rest of its industry. However, the company's other strengths justify the higher price. It had been rated a hold since coverage was initiated in April 2007. Internet media company Travelzoo ( TZOO) publishes travel offers from various travel companies. It has been downgraded to hold from buy. While the company's debt-to-equity ratio shows mixed results, the company's quick ratio of 4.60, the ratio of cash, marketable securities and accounts receivable divided by liabilities, is very high and demonstrates strong liquidity. Travelzoo's return on equity increased by 40.98% in the first quarter of fiscal 2007 compared with the same period last year, and the company shows reasonable valuation levels by most measures. Travelzoo's stock price has declined 26.24% over the past year, as investors have so far failed to pay attention to the company's recent earnings improvements. In one sense, the stock price depreciation has made it cheaper than most other stocks in its industry. However, because of other concerns, TheStreet.com Ratings does not believe the stock is a good buy right now. It had been rated a buy since May 2006.