Each business day, 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 -- based on data from the close of the previous trading session.Today, small-cap stocks are in the spotlight. These are stocks of companies that have market capitalizations of $50 million to $500 million 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. Aceto ( ACET) engages in sourcing, quality assurance, regulatory support, marketing and distribution of chemically derived pharmaceuticals, biopharmaceuticals, specialty chemicals and crop protection products. We have rated it a buy since August 2008. Our rating is based on a variety of strengths, including the company's impressive record of EPS growth and its largely solid financial position. For the fourth quarter of fiscal 2008, Aceto announced quarterly sales of $104.7 million, an increase of 20.1% year over year and its second consecutive quarter of record quarterly sales results. Fourth-quarter revenue rose by 20.1% compared with the same quarter a year ago. This growth appears to have helped boost EPS, which improved from 17 cents in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2007 to 32 cents in the most recent quarter. This continued a pattern of positive EPS growth demonstrated by Aceto over the past two years. Net income also increased significantly in the fourth quarter, rising 89.7% compared with the same quarter last year.
Management reported that all of the company's businesses performed well during the quarter, especially health sciences and crop protection. Aceto is looking to expand its global markets and grow its core businesses, and management cited Vietnam as one place where growth opportunities exist for the company, as it has been granted a license to sell medicines, medical devices and active pharmaceutical ingredients to the pharmaceutical industry there. Aceto's stock has shown lackluster performance recently, but we feel that the company's strengths outweigh any weakness at this time. SY Bancorp ( SYBT) is the holding company for Stock Yards Bank & Trust, which offers a variety of financial services, including banking, investment management, trust services, brokerage services and an array of mortgage services. Our buy rating for SY Bancorp has not changed since November 2002. This rating is supported by the company's notable return on equity, expanding profit margins, good cash flow from operations, growth in EPS and solid stock price performance. While the company's net income dropped slightly in the second quarter of fiscal 2008, EPS improved slightly to 45 cents, from 43 cents in the year-ago quarter, representing record EPS for the quarter. Return on equity also improved slightly, rising from 16.71% in the second quarter of fiscal 2007 to 17.22% in the most recent quarter. Gross profit margin is currently very high at 72.4%, and the company's net profit margin of 21.1% significantly outperformed the industry average. Net operating cash increased dramatically in the second quarter, rising 2,607.28% year over year to $12.74 million. In addition, the company's loan portfolio increased 14.0% when compared with the same quarter last year.
Management was pleased to be able to report that SY Bancorp's asset quality remained sound despite the difficult economic climate. However, the company's income from investment management and trust services has been hurt by the same factors. This portion of the company's business makes up the single largest component of its non-interest income. While SY Bancorp's stock is currently trading at a level that is relatively expensive compared to its peers, we feel that the strengths detailed above justify the higher price levels. MWI Veterinary Supply ( MWIV) is a distributor of animal health products to veterinarians across the U.S. MWI has been rated a buy since April 2008 on the basis of its revenue growth, largely solid financial position, notable return on equity and other strengths. For the third quarter of fiscal 2008, the company reported that its revenue rose 13.3% year over year. This growth appears to have trickled down to MWI's bottom line, helping boost EPS by 25.7% when compared with the same quarter last year. Net income also improved, rising 27.2% from $4.26 million in the third quarter of fiscal 2007 to $5.42 million in the most recent quarter. MWI has a debt-to-equity ratio of zero, implying that there has been very successful management of debt levels. In addition, a quick ratio of 1.01 indicates that the company is able to avoid short-term cash problems. Management announced that it was pleased with a strong third quarter and that the acquisition of AAHA MarketLink was an important step in building the company's business. MWI updated its previous estimates for full-year fiscal 2008 and now anticipates revenue growth of approximately 17.0% year over year, along with diluted earnings per share of approximately $1.62.
Dynamex ( DDMX) provides same-day delivery and logistics services in the U.S. and Canada. We have rated Dynamex a buy since April 2003. The company's strengths include its revenue growth, largely solid financial position, increase in net income, and growth in EPS. For the fourth quarter of fiscal 2008, revenue increased by 9.6% year over year. This growth appears to have helped boost EPS, which improved 18.4%, from 38 cents in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2007 to 45 cents in the most recent quarter. Net income also increased, rising 12%. Dynamex has no debt to speak of and a quick ratio of 1.87, indicating that company is able to cover its short-term liquidity needs. Management announced that its outlook for fiscal 2009 remains positive based on its most recent financial results. Although sales and net income per share are expected to be impacted by an anticipated decline in the Canadian dollar versus the U.S. dollar, the company announced that it expects year-over-year sales growth of 7.0% to 8.0% and net income in the range of $1.50 to $1.60 per fully diluted share. The company shows weak operating cash flow at this time, but we feel that the strengths detailed above outweigh any weaknesses. National Research ( NRCI) assists the health care industry in the U.S. and Canada track performance at a variety of levels. The company provides survey-based services and develops tools that enable health care organizations to obtain performance measurement information. We have rated National Research a buy since November 2006. Our rating is based on a variety of strengths, including the company's expanding profit margins, good cash flow from operations, and largely solid financial position.
For the second quarter of fiscal 2008, net operating cash flow significantly increased by 58.91% when compared with the same quarter last year. Return on equity also improved slightly year over year. The company's debt-to-equity ratio is very low at 0.08, implying successful management of debt levels. While National Research reported flat EPS for the second quarter vs. the year-earlier period and has a recent history of volatile earnings, we feel it is poised for EPS growth in the coming year. Although no company is perfect, we do not currently detect any significant weaknesses that are likely to detract from the generally positive outlook for this company. Our quantitative rating is based on a variety of historical fundamental and pricing data and represents our opinion of a stock's risk-adjusted performance relative to other stocks. 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. For those reasons, we believe that a rating alone cannot tell the whole story and that it should be part of an investor's overall research.