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 both 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. Empresas ICA ( ICA) provides construction services to public and private sector clients in Mexico. It has been upgraded to a buy from a hold. The company's revenue increased 9.2% in the second quarter compared with the same period last year, outpacing the industry average of 7.0%. Net income grew 34% to $10.56 million over the same timeframe, outperforming both the industry average and the S&P 500. Powered in part by strong earnings growth, Empresas' stock price has improved by 66.93% over the past 12 months. Given the company's strengths, the higher price level is justified. Its somewhat disappointing return on equity is not a threat to the buy rating at this time. Empresas had been rated a hold since September 2007.
Paper, machine, clothing and door manufacturer Albany International ( AIN) has been downgraded to a hold from a buy. The company's profit margins are expanding and it has a largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures. As a counter to these strengths, the stock declined 75.81% to 15 cents per share in the second quarter compared with 62 cents per share a year earlier. Albany's return on equity also decreased to 6.48% in the second quarter from 14.10% a year earlier. This is a clear sign of weakness within the company. Albany International had been rated a buy since April 2007. McCormick & Co. ( MKC) manufactures, sells and distributes spices, herbs, seasoning blends and other flavors worldwide. It has been downgraded to a hold from a buy. The company's third-quarter revenue was up 8.0% on the year, driven by growth in both its domestic and international businesses. Revenue growth was further supported by margin expansion and higher income from unconsolidated operations. McCormick is undergoing a restructuring that aims to consolidate global manufacturing and eliminate administrative redundancies. In general, its consumer-oriented marketing, category revitalization and expanded distribution are expected to sustain growth in the future. Although McCormick's strategic long-term growth strategies are strong, the recent surge in raw materials has increased costs and could weigh on the company's operations for some time. McCormick had been rated a buy since September 2005. Real estate investment trust Presidential Realty Corporation ( PDL) owns shopping malls and real estate through joint ventures and also makes loans secured by interests in real estate. It has been downgraded to a sell from a hold. The company's loss per share widened to 33 cents per share in the second quarter from 22 cents a year earlier. Its net income also deteriorated, return on equity was disappointing and operating cash flow was weak. Presidential Realty's stock price has declined by 6.14% in the past 12 months and now sells for less than others in its industry in relation to its current earnings. However, this is not reason enough to justify a buy rating at this time. The company had been rated a hold since February 2007. Rite Aid ( RAD) operates a chain of retail drugstores. It has been downgraded to a sell from a hold. The ratings change is driven by a few notable weaknesses, which TheStreet.com Ratings believe will have a greater impact than any strengths. The company's losses widened in the second quarter to 10 cents per share from two cents per share a year earlier. Net losses also widened to $69.90 million from $330,000. Rite Aid's debt-to-equity ratio of 2.08 is higher than the industry average, implying that there is very poor management of debt levels. In addition, the company's quick ratio of 0.35 demonstrates the inability to cover short-term cash needs. Rite Aid had been rated a hold since September 2005. Additional ratings changes are listed below.
|Stock Upgrades, Downgrades |
|Company Name||Ticker||Change||New Rating||Former Rating|
|Bank of Granite||GRAN||Downgrade||Hold||Buy|
|Hi Tech Pharmaceutical||HITK||Downgrade||Sell||Hold|
|McCormick & Co.||MKC||Downgrade||Hold||Buy|
|Security National Financial||SNFCA||Downgrade||Hold||Buy|
|United American Healthcare||UAHC||Downgrade||Sell||Hold|
|Prospect Medical Holdings||PZZ||Downgrade||Sell||Hold|
|Community Valley Bancorp||CVLL||Upgrade||Buy||Hold|
|Source: TheStreet.com Ratings|