KV Pharmaceutical ( KV.A) has been upgraded from hold to buy. KV Pharmaceutical Company engages in the development, manufacture, acquisition, marketing and sale of branded and generic/nonbranded prescription pharmaceutical products. The company offers its products in various dosage forms, including tablets, capsules, creams, liquids and ointments.

The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, impressive record of earnings-per-share growth, compelling growth in net income, notable return on equity and reasonable valuation levels. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had lackluster performance in the stock itself.

The revenue growth came in higher than the industry average of 14.2%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenue rose by 30.2%. This growth in revenue appears to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, improving the earnings per share.

KV Pharmaceutical significant earnings per share improvement in the most recent quarter compared with the same quarter a year ago. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings-per-share growth over the past two years. We believe that this trend should continue. During the past fiscal year, KV Pharmaceutical increased its bottom line by earning $1.53 vs. 99 cents in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($1.55 vs. $1.53).

The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the pharmaceuticals industry. The net income increased by 102.2% when compared with the same quarter one year prior, rising from $6.20 million to $12.54 million.

Current return on equity exceeded its return on equity from the same quarter one year prior. This is a clear sign of strength within the company. Compared with other companies in the pharmaceuticals industry and the overall market, KV Pharmaceutical's return on equity exceeds both the industry average and that of the S&P 500

KV.A had been rated a hold since July 8, 2008.

Reinsurance Group of America ( RGA.A) has been upgraded from a hold to buy. Reinsurance Group of America through its subsidiaries, engages in individual life, asset-intensive, critical illness, and financial reinsurance in the U.S., Canada, Europe, South Africa and Asia Pacific.

The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, growth in earnings per share, increase in net income, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and relatively strong performance when compared with the S&P 500 during the past year. We feel these strengths outweigh the company's somewhat disappointing return on equity.

RGA.A's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 10.2%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenue rose by 10.3%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.

RGA.A's has improved earnings per share by 41.8% in the most-recent quarter compared with the same quarter a year ago. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings-per-share growth over the past two years. We feel that this trend should continue. During the past fiscal year, RGA.A has increased its bottom line by earning $4.79 vs. $4.66 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($6.01 vs. $4.79).

The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the insurance industry. The net income increased by 42.9% when compared with the same quarter one year prior, rising from $77.48 million to $110.70 million.

RGA.A's debt-to-equity ratio of 0.63 is somewhat low overall, but it is high when compared with the industry average, implying that the management of the debt levels should be evaluated further.

RGA.A's share price is down 11.37%, reflecting, in part, the market's overall decline, investors ignoring the increase in its earnings per share. Looking ahead, although the push and pull of the overall market trend could certainly make a critical difference, we do not see any strong reason stemming from the company's fundamentals that would cause a continuation of last year's decline. In fact, the stock is now selling for less than others in its industry in relation to its current earnings.

RGA.A had been rated a hold since July 11, 2008.

Simon Property Group ( SPG) Simon Property Group, a real estate investment trust (REIT), engages in the ownership, development and management of retail real estate properties. Its real estate properties consist primarily of regional malls, Premium Outlet centers, The Mills and community/lifestyle centers. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its increase in net income, revenue growth, notable return on equity, good cash flow from operations and expanding profit margins. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had generally poor debt management on most measures that we evaluated.

The company, on the basis of net income growth from the same quarter one year ago, has significantly outperformed against the S&P 500 and exceeded that of the REITs industry average. The net income increased by 18.4% when compared with the same quarter one year prior, going from $74.22 million to $87.92 million.

Despite its growing revenue, the company underperformed as compared with the industry average of 9.7%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenue has slightly increased by 5.6%. This growth in revenue appears to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, improving the earnings per share.

The return on equity has improved slightly when compared with the same quarter one year prior. This can be construed as a modest strength in the organization. Compared with other companies in the REIT industry and the overall market, SPG's return on equity exceeds both the industry average and that of the S&P 500.

Net operating cash flow has significantly increased by 76.32% to $528.01 million when compared with the same quarter last year. The firm also exceeded the industry average cash flow growth rate of 27.51%.

SPG's gross profit margin is 40.40%, which we consider to be strong. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Despite the strong results of the gross profit margin, SPG's net profit margin of 9.60% significantly trails the industry average

SPG had been rated a hold since July 10, 2008.

Plains Exploration & Production ( PXP) has been downgraded from buy to hold. Plains Exploration & Production engages in the acquisition, development, exploration, and production of oil and gas properties. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, expanding profit margins and good cash flow from operations. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including a decline in the stock price during the past year, generally poor debt management and disappointing return on equity.

PXP's very impressive revenue growth greatly exceeded the industry average of 30.0%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues leaped by 186.7%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.

The gross profit margin for PXP is currently very high, coming in at 77.30%. It has increased significantly from the same period last year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 27.70% significantly outperformed against the industry average.

PXP reported significant earnings per share improvement in the most-recent quarter compared with the same quarter a year ago. This company has reported somewhat volatile earnings recently. But, we feel it is poised for EPS growth in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, PXP reported lower earnings of $1.89 vs. $7.80 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($6.32 vs. $1.89).

PXP's debt-to-equity ratio of 0.62 is somewhat low overall, but it is high when compared with the industry average, implying that the management of the debt levels should be evaluated further. Despite the fact that PXP's debt-to-equity ratio is mixed in its results, the company's quick ratio of 0.60 is low and demonstrates weak liquidity.

Return on equity has greatly decreased when compared with its return on equity from the same quarter one year prior. This is a signal of major weakness within the corporation. Compared with other companies in the oil, gas & consumable fuels industry and the overall market on the basis of return on equity, PXP has underperformed in comparison with the industry average, but has exceeded that of the S&P 500.

PXP had been rated a buy since October 15, 2007.

TETRA Technologies ( TTI) has been downgraded from buy to hold. TETRA Technologies, together with its subsidiaries, operates as an oil and gas services and production company worldwide. It manufactures calcium chloride and brominated products, as well as supplies feedstocks to the energy markets. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its increase in net income, revenue growth and good cash flow from operations. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including disappointing return on equity and a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself.

The company, on the basis of net income growth from the same quarter one year ago, has significantly outperformed against the S&P 500 and exceeded that of the Energy Equipment & Services industry average. The net income increased by 28.6% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $22.87 million to $29.42 million.

TTI's revenue growth trails the industry average of 30.4%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 19.8%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.

TTI has improved earnings per share by 37.9% in the most-recent quarter compared with the same quarter a year ago. This company has reported somewhat volatile earnings recently. But, we feel it is poised for EPS growth in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, TTI reported lower earnings of $0.00 vs. $1.37 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an increase in earnings to $1.15 from $0.00.

TTI's stock share price has done very poorly compared with where it was a year ago: Despite any rallies, the net result is that it is down by 33.45%, which is also worse that the performance of the S&P 500 Index. Investors have so far failed to pay much attention to the earnings improvements the company has managed to achieve over the last quarter. Turning toward the future, the fact that the stock has come down in price over the past year should not necessarily be interpreted as a negative; it could be one of the factors that may help make the stock attractive down the road. Right now, however, we believe that it is too soon to buy.

Return on equity has greatly decreased when compared with its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a signal of major weakness within the corporation. Compared with other companies in the energy equipment & services industry and the overall market, TTI's return on equity significantly trails that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.

TTI had been rated a buy since August 11, 2008.

Ticker Company Current Change Previous
BRKL Brookline Bancorp BUY Upgrade HOLD
CCRN Cross Country Healthcare Inc. BUY Upgrade HOLD
EXX.A EXX Inc. HOLD Downgrade BUY
EXX.B EXX Inc. HOLD Downgrade BUY
GMET Geomet Inc. SELL Downgrade HOLD
IG IGI Laboratories SELL Downgrade HOLD
KNXA Kenexa Corp HOLD Downgrade BUY
KV.A KV Pharmaceutical BUY Upgrade HOLD
NFS Nationwide Financial Services FROZEN HOLD
NOA North American Energy Partners SELL Downgrade HOLD
PXP Plains Exploration & Production HOLD Downgrade BUY
RGA.A Reinsurance Group of America BUY Upgrade HOLD
SPG Simon Property Group BUY Upgrade HOLD
SSI Stage Stores Inc. HOLD Downgrade BUY
SVLF Silverleaf Resorts SELL Downgrade HOLD
TBSI TBS International Ltd. HOLD Downgrade BUY
TDSC 3D Systems Corp. HOLD Upgrade SELL
TRCI Technology Research Corp SELL Downgrade HOLD
TTI TETRA Technologies HOLD Downgrade BUY

Each business day, 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.

However, the rating does not incorporate all of the factors that can alter a stock's performance. For example, it doesn't always factor in recent corporate or industry events that could affect the stock price, nor does it include recent technology developments and competitive dynamics that may affect the company.

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This article was written by a staff member of TheStreet.com Ratings.