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
L-3 Communications Holdings ( LLL), a military equipment company, has been rated a buy since August 2005. It recently reported that its second-quarter earnings nearly tripled over the same period last year. Higher defense spending worldwide, together with the company's recent acquisitions and a healthy backlog order book all encouraged management to raise guidance for fiscal 2007.
Parker-Hannifin ( PH), which makes motion and control technologies and systems, has been rated a buy since October 2006. The company's net income for the first quarter of fiscal 2008 rose by 9.0% to $229.60 million compared with the same period last year, bolstered by strong sales growth in its industrial international and aerospace segments. Diluted earnings per share, which accounted for the effect of the 3-shares-for-2 stock split completed on October 2007, increased 13.7% to $1.33 per share. The company has been involved in a series of acquisitions, most recently of Rectus, a manufacturer of quick disconnect couplings and related products for pneumatic, hydraulic, medical and chemical processing applications. There are potential risks, however. Parker-Hannifin operates in a highly competitive environment, and its growth is partly dependent on the continued development of new products and technologies. A significant portion of the company's revenue comes from customers outside the U.S.; this leaves it vulnerable to adverse foreign policy and currency risk.
Brazilian oil company Petroleo Brasileiro ( PBR) has had a buy rating since September 2005. The company's revenue growth has outpaced the industry average and its stock price has increased by 88.27% in the 12 months prior to Sept. 27. And while any stock can fall in a broad market decline, it should continue to move higher. Petrobras' stock is also attractively valued. Its net income increased and earnings grew in the second quarter compared with the same period last year. These strengths outweigh the company's somewhat disappointing return on equity.
Agricultural and commercial equipment manufacturer Deere ( DE) has been rated a buy since August 2005. It recently completed the acquisition of Lesco, strengthening its foothold in the American market, and plans to expand its financial services arm into Canada. Deere also entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Ningbo Benye Tractor & Automotive Manufacture to expand its small tractor manufacturing business in China. This acquisition will enhance its product line and worldwide capacity to produce low-horsepower tractors. Deere is well-positioned to benefit from a surge in corn production driven by increased demand for ethanol. Risks include adverse weather conditions, which could hurt farmers' production and income and leave them with less money to spend on new equipment.
Hess ( HES) which is involved in every aspect of crude oil and natural gas from exploration to distribution, has earned a buy rating since August 2005. The company has shown steady top-line growth, with revenue climbing 8.3% to $7.27 billion year over year in the most recent quarter, primarily because of increased production volumes and crude oil prices. U.S natural gas consumption is expected to grow 2.9%, while demand for crude oil is expected to grow at an average rate of 1.5% annually, largely because of the rising number of automobiles. The U.S. imports more than 60% of its energy requirements from other countries, and this could result in an increase in the transportation of crude oil and natural gas. This trend should benefit Hess. Any unexpected, sharp downturn in oil and gas prices may hurt earnings, however. Exploration disruptions could also harm results.