The following ratings changes were generated on Wednesday, Nov. 26.

We've downgraded Cypress Semiconductor ( CY) from hold to sell, driven by its deteriorating net income, disappointing return on equity, generally disappointing historical performance in the stock itself and feeble growth in its earnings per share.

Cypress Semiconductor's net income has significantly decreased when compared with the same quarter one year ago, falling from $29.82 million to -$24.09 million and significantly underperforming the S&P 500 and the semiconductors and semiconductor equipment industry. Return on equity has also greatly decreased from the same quarter one year prior, a signal of major weakness within the corporation, underperforming the S&P 500 and the industry average.

Cypress has experienced a steep decline in earnings per share of 188.9% in the most recent quarter compared withthe same quarter a year ago. This company has reported somewhat volatile earnings recently, and we feel it is likely to report a decline in earnings in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, it increased its bottom line by earning $2.47 vs. 24 cents in the prior year. For the next year, the market is expecting a contraction of 74.7% in earnings to 63 cents. Its debt-to-equity ratio of 0.3 is low but is higher than the industry average, and its quick ratio of 1.2 is sturdy.

Shares are down 88.9% on the year, underperforming the S&P 500. Naturally, the overall market trend is bound to be a significant factor, and in one sense, the stock's sharp decline last year is a positive for future investors, making it cheaper (in proportion to its earnings over the past year) than most other stocks in its industry. But due to other concerns, we feel the stock is still not a good buy right now.

We've downgraded American Ecology ( ECOL), which provides radioactive, hazardous, polychlorinated biphenyls and industrial waste management services in the U.S., from buy to hold. Strengths include its revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and notable return on equity. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including a decline in the stock price during the past year, weak operating cash flow and poor profit margins.

Revenue rose slightly by 4.1% since the same quarter a year ago, but EPS declined. The company's debt-to-equity ratio of 0 is very low and is currently below that of the industry average, implying very successful management of debt levels. The company also maintains a quick ratio of 2.68, which clearly demonstrates the ability to cover short-term cash needs. American Ecology's return on equity has improved slightly when compared with the same quarter one year prior, which can be construed as a modest strength in the organization, outperforming the S&P 500 but underperforming the industry average.

Net operating cash flow has decreased to $6.52 million, or 38.93% when compared with the same quarter last year. In addition, when comparing the cash generation rate to the industry average, the firm's growth is significantly lower. Shares are down 22%, reflecting the market's decline and the decline in the company's EPS. We do not see anything in the company's numbers that may help reverse the decline experienced over the past 12 months, and despite the past decline, the stock is still selling for more than most others in its industry.

We've upgraded First Bancorp ( FBNC), which operates as a bank holding company for First Bank, from hold to buy, driven by its increase in net income, revenue growth, expanding profit margins, attractive valuation levels and notable return on equity. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows weak operating cash flow.

Net income increased by 7.9% compared with the same quarter last year, going from $5.74 million to $6.20 million and outperforming both the S&P 500 and the commercial banks industry. Revenue rose 1.8% since the same quarter a year ago, underperforming the industry average of 5.2% growth., and EPS declined. First Bancorp's gross profit margin is rather high at 58.7%, having increased from the same quarter last year. Its net profit margin of 14.30% is above that of the industry average.

EPS declined by 7.5% in the most recent quarter compared with the same quarter a year ago. This company has not demonstrated a clear trend in earnings over the past two years, making it difficult to accurately predict earnings for the coming year. During the past fiscal year, First Bancorp increased its bottom line by earning $1.51 vs. $1.34 in the prior year

We've upgraded Navigators Group ( NAVG), an international insurance holding company, from hold to buy, driven by its largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and notable return on equity. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income.

Navigators' debt-to-equity ratio is very low at 0.19 and is currently below that of the industry average, implying very successful management of debt levels. Revenue dropped by 3.8% since the same quarter last year, and EPS decreased. The company's current return on equity has slightly decreased from the same quarter one year prior, implying a minor weakness in the organization, but Navigators' return on equity exceeds that of both the insurance industry average and the S&P 500.

EPS declined steeply in the most recent quarter compared with the same quarter a year ago. This company has reported somewhat volatile earnings recently. We feel it is likely to report a decline in earnings in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, Navigators increased its bottom line by earning $5.63 vs. $4.32 in the prior year. For the next year, the market is expecting a contraction of 23.6% in earnings to $4.30.

Shares are down 14.7% on the year, reflecting the market's overall decline (which was actually deeper) and the company's decline in EPS. 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.

We've downgraded Tennant ( TNC), which designs, manufactures, and markets cleaning solutions, from buy to hold. Strengths include its revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and increase in net income. However, as a counter to these strengths, we find that the stock has had a generally disappointing performance in the past year.

Revenue rose by 15.3% since the same quarter last year, outpacing the industry average of 13.8% growth and boosting EPS. The current debt-to-equity ratio, 0.41, is low and is below the industry average, implying successful management of debt levels. Tennant also has a quick ratio of 1.64, which demonstrates the ability of the company to cover short-term liquidity needs. Its return on equity has improved slightly when compared to the same quarter one year prior, which can be construed as a modest strength in the organization. On the basis of return on equity, Tennant has underperformed the machinery industry but outperformed the S&P 500.

EPS improved by 33.3% 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, but we anticipate underperformance relative to this pattern in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, Tennant increased its bottom line by earning $2.09 vs. $1.57 in the prior year. For the next year, the market is expecting a contraction of 4.3% in earnings to $2.

Shares are down 55.2% on the year, underperforming the S&P 500, but don't assume that it can now be tagged as cheap and attractive. Based on its current price in relation to its earnings, Tennant is still more expensive than most of the other companies in its industry.

Other ratings changes include Chicago Rivet & Machine ( CVR) and Tier Technologies ( TIER), both downgraded from hold to sell.

All ratings changes generated on Nov. 26 are listed below.
Ticker Company
Current
Change
Previous
CRE Care Investment Trust
HOLD
Initiated
CRMT America's Car-Mart
HOLD
Downgrade
BUY
CVR Chicago Rivet & Machine
SELL
Downgrade
HOLD
CY Cypress Semiconductor
SELL
Downgrade
HOLD
ECOL American Ecology
HOLD
Downgrade
BUY
FBNC First Bancorp
BUY
Upgrade
HOLD
FGXI FGX International
SELL
Initiated
LFT Longtop Financial
SELL
Initiated
NAVG Navigators Group
BUY
Upgrade
HOLD
PZN Pzena Investment
SELL
Initiated
TIER Tier Technologies
SELL
Downgrade
HOLD
TNC Tennant
HOLD
Downgrade
BUY

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