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 our 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 begins with Valmont Industries ( VMI - Get Report), which produces fabricated metal products. It has been rated a buy since August 2005. The company's revenue grew 18.7% in the second quarter of 2007 over the year-earlier period, exceeding the industry average of 4.6%.

Its debt-to-equity ratio of 0.55 is below the industry average, implying that there has been successful management of debt levels. Valmont has demonstrated a pattern of positive EPS growth over the past two years, a trend that should continue.

Powered by strong earnings and other factors, the company's stock increased 49.37% in the 12 months prior to Aug. 3, and while the stock is now somewhat expensive compared with its industry peers, the company's strengths justify the higher price level.

Valmont's low profit margins are no threat to the company's buy rating at this time.


Ambassadors Group ( EPAX) is an educational travel company that organizes and promotes international and domestic programs for students, athletes and professionals. It has carried a buy rating since October 2005. The company's positives should give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks covered by TheStreet.com Ratings. Its revenue growth has greatly exceeded the industry average, and its improved return on equity is a signal of significant strength within the corporation. Additionally, Ambassador's debt-to-equity ratio of 0.01 is beneath that of the industry, suggesting very successful debt management. Strengths like these outweigh Ambassadors' subpar net income growth.


Retailer Guess ( GES - Get Report) has been rated a buy since August 2005. The company's revenue growth has outpaced the industry average, and it has shown a pattern of EPS growth over the past two years. It also demonstrates a compelling growth in net income and expanding profit margins. The company's debt-to-equity ratio is beneath that of the industry average, suggesting successful management of debt, and its quick ratio illustrates the ability to avoid short-term cash problems.

Guess's strengths outweigh the fact that the company is trading at a premium valuation based on TheStreet.com Ratings' review of its current price compared to such things as earnings and book value.


Micros Systems ( MCRS) designs, makes, markets and services enterprise information solutions for the global hospitality and specialty retail industries. It has been rated a buy since August 2005. The company's EPS improved by 23.7% in the third quarter of its fiscal 2007 compared with the same period last year, continuing a two-year pattern of growth. Net income in the same period exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the software industry average, growing to $19.45 million compared with $15.59 million in the third quarter of 2007.

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


Dawson Geophysical ( DWSN - Get Report) provides onshore seismic data acquisition services to oil and gas companies. It has been rated a buy since August 2005. The company's revenue increased nearly 50% in the second quarter of 2007 compared with the same period last year, and it has no debt to speak of. Dawson has shown a pattern of EPS growth in the last two years, a trend that should continue. Powered by these strengths, Dawson's stock price has grown by 127.64% in the 12 months prior to Aug. 3, making it relatively expensive compared with others in its industry. TheStreet.com Ratings believes the company's strengths justify its higher price level and outweigh its low profit margins.