The following ratings changes were generated on Tuesday, March 3.

We've downgraded investment management firm AllianceBernstein Holding ( AB) from hold to sell, driven by its feeble growth in its earnings per share, weak operating cash flow and generally disappointing historical performance in the stock itself.

The company has experienced a steep decline in earnings per share of 74.5% in the most recent quarter compared with the year-ago quarter, and we anticipate that its two-year trend of declining EPS should continue in the coming year. Net operating cash flow decreased by 49.4% to $52.5 million compared with the same quarter last year, and return on equity also decreased, a sign of weakness within the company. Net income feel 73.9%, from $92.2 million to $24 million.

Shares tumbled 81.9% over the year, underperforming the S&P 500, but that 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.

We've upgraded retail propane distributor AmeriGas Partners ( APU) from hold to buy, driven by its compelling growth in net income, notable return on equity, expanding profit margins, growth in earnings per share and relatively strong performance when compared with the S&P 500 during the past year. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had generally poor debt management on most measures that we evaluated.

Net income increased by 128.3% compared with the same quarter last year, from $54.3 million to $124 million, significantly outperforming the S&P 500 and the gas utilities industry. ROE also greatly increased, a signal of significant strength. AmeriGas has a 38.5% gross profit margin, which we consider to be strong, and its net profit margin of 17% significantly outperformed the industry average. EPS rose significantly compared with the year-ago quarter, and though it has reported volatile earnings lately, we feel the company is poised for EPS growth in the coming year. Revenue fell by 2.8% since the year-ago quarter.

We've downgraded cable operator Cablevision Systems ( CVC) from hold to sell, driven by its deteriorating net income, generally disappointing historical performance in the stock itself and feeble growth in its earnings per share.

Net income fell from $6.6 million in the year-ago quarter to -$321.4 million in the most recent quarter, significantly underperforming the S&P 500 and the media industry. EPS also declined steeply, by 3,800%, though the consensus estimate suggests that the company's two-year trend of declining EPS should reverse in the coming year. Cablevision's 0.5 quick ratio is very low, demonstrating very weak liquidity, though its gross profit maring is rather high at 51.1% in spite of having decreased from the same period last year.

Shares tumbled 55.5% over the past year, underperforming the S&P 500. While the stock's decline be one of the factors that may help make the stock attractive down the road, we believe that it is too soon to buy.

We've downgraded Exterran Holdings ( EXH), which provides natural gas compression technology, from hold to sell, driven by its deteriorating net income, generally weak debt management, disappointing return on equity, generally disappointing historical performance in the stock itself and feeble growth in its earnings per share.

Net income decreased to -$1.1 billion in the most recent quarter from $58.5 million in the year-ago quarter, significantly underperforming the S&P 500 and the energy equipment and services industry. Exterran's 1.2 debt-to-equity ratio is high relative to the industry average, suggesting a need for better debt-level management, and its 0.8 quick ratio illustrates the company's inability to avoid short-term cash problems. ROE has greatly decreased since the year-ago quarter, a signal of major weakness, and EPS are down 2,019.5%. The consensus estimate, however, suggests that the company's two-year pattern of declining EPS should reverse in the coming year.

Shares have tumbled by 76.5% over the past year, underperforming the S&P 500. While this could be one of the factors that may help make the stock attractive down the road, we believe that it is too soon to buy.

We've downgraded diversified holding company Loews ( L) from hold to sell, driven by its unimpressive growth in net income, disappointing return on equity, generally disappointing historical performance in the stock itself and feeble growth in its earnings per share.

Net income fell to -$958 million in the most recent quarter from $384 million in the year-ago quarter, significantly underperforming the S&P 500 and the insurance industry. ROE also greatly decreased, a signal of major weakness. EPS fell 492.9% since the same quarter last year, though the consensus estimate suggests that Loews' two-year trend of declining EPS should reverse in the coming year. Revenue fell by 23.6% since the year-ago quarter, underperforming the industry average.

Shares have tumbled 54.6% over the year, underperforming the S&P 500. While this could be one of the factors that may help make the stock attractive down the road, we believe it is too soon to buy right now.

Other ratings changes included Molson Coors Brewing ( TAP), downgraded from buy to hold, and Nova Chemicas ( NCX), downgraded from hold to sell.

All ratings changes generated on March 3 are listed below.

 
Ticker
Company
Current
Change
Previous
AB
AllianceBernstein Holding
SELL
Downgrade
HOLD
APU
AmeriGas Partners
BUY
Upgrade
HOLD
ARDNA
Arden Group
HOLD
Downgrade
BUY
ATAI
ATA
SELL
Initiated
CLC
Clarcor
HOLD
Downgrade
BUY
CRD.B
Crawford
HOLD
Downgrade
BUY
CTV
CommScope
SELL
Downgrade
HOLD
CVC
Cablevision
SELL
Downgrade
HOLD
DAN
Dana Holding
SELL
Initiated
EXH
Exterran Holdings
SELL
Downgrade
HOLD
GENZ
Genzyme
HOLD
Downgrade
BUY
GMXR
GMX Resources
SELL
Downgrade
HOLD
GRC
Gorman-Rupp
HOLD
Downgrade
BUY
HOGS
Zhongpin
BUY
Upgrade
HOLD
HOO
Cascal
SELL
Initiated
HURC
Hurco
SELL
Downgrade
HOLD
JBHT
JB Hunt Transport Services
HOLD
Downgrade
BUY
KLAC
KLA-Tencor
SELL
Downgrade
HOLD
L
Loews
SELL
Downgrade
HOLD
LUK
Leucadia National
SELL
Downgrade
HOLD
MCRI
Monarch Casino & Resort
SELL
Downgrade
HOLD
MPR
Met-Pro
HOLD
Downgrade
BUY
MXT
Maxcom Telecomunicaciones
SELL
Initiated
NCX
Nova Chemicals
SELL
Downgrade
HOLD
NGA
North American Galvanizing
HOLD
Downgrade
BUY
NRP
Natural Resource Partners
HOLD
Downgrade
BUY
NSPH
Nanosphere
SELL
Initiated
NVTL
Novatel Wireless
SELL
Downgrade
HOLD
OSP
OSG America
SELL
Initiated
OUTD
Outdoor Channel Holdings
SELL
Downgrade
HOLD
SAI
SAIC
HOLD
Downgrade
BUY
SFNC
Simmons First National
HOLD
Downgrade
BUY
SYNT
Syntel
HOLD
Downgrade
BUY
TAP
Molson Coors Brewing
HOLD
Downgrade
BUY
TAP.A
Molson Coors Brewing
HOLD
Downgrade
BUY
TNS
TNS
SELL
Downgrade
HOLD
TO
Tech/Ops Sevcon
SELL
Downgrade
HOLD
UCBA
United Community Bancorp
SELL
Downgrade
HOLD
URI
United Rentals
SELL
Downgrade
HOLD

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.

For those reasons, we believe a rating alone cannot tell the whole story, and that it should be part of an investor's overall research.

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