Top 5 Mid-Cap Stocks for March 5

Each business day, TheStreet.com Ratings TheStreet.com Ratings compiles a list of the top five stocks in one of 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 we focus on mid-caps.

These are stocks of companies that have market capitalizations of between $500 million and $10 billion 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.

ManTech International ( MANT) provides technologies and solutions for mission-critical national security programs for the intelligence community, the space community, and various departments and agencies of the U.S. federal government. ManTech has been rated a buy since March 2005. Our rating is based on strengths such as the company's growth, efficiency, solvency, and stock performance.

For the fourth quarter of fiscal 2008, the company reported revenue growth of 17.3% year over year. This growth outpaced the industry average of 13.9%, and appears to have trickled down to ManTech's bottom line, as EPS improved from 61 cents to 69 cents. Net income also improved, rising from $21.38 million in the prior year's quarter to $24.6 million. ManTech's debt-to-equity ratio is favorably low at 0.06, and along with this maintains a quick ratio of 1.44, illustrating the ability to cover short-term cash needs. A slight improvement in return on equity when compared to the prior year's quarter can also be considered a modest strength for the organization. As for ManTech's stock, its price has risen over the past year, reflecting the earnings growth and other positive factors cited here.

Looking ahead to fiscal 2009, the company issued first-quarter and full-year revenue guidance reflecting the strong business momentum it sees in the national security and defense business. For the first quarter, ManTech anticipates total revenue growth of 14% to 19%, along with EPS growth in the range of 20% to 25%. Full-year 2009 total revenue growth is expected to be in the range of 12% to 18%, with 14% to 20% EPS growth.

DeVry ( DV) is an international higher education company that operates DeVry University, Ross University, Chamberlin College of Nursing, and Becker Professional Review. The company has been rated a buy since January 2007. DeVry's strengths can be seen in a variety of areas, such as its impressive record of EPS growth, robust revenue growth, return on equity and largely solid financial position. Solid stock price performance also contributes to the buy rating.

The company announced on Jan. 27 that its revenue rose 35% year over year in the second quarter of fiscal 2009, helped by increased revenue across segments and the acquisition of U.S. Education, which is the parent company of Apollo College and Western Career College. Revenue growth appears to have trickled down to the bottom line, as DeVry reported EPS improvement of 20.4%. Higher enrollment numbers also helped boost earnings. Net income also increased, rising to $42.9 million from $35.8 million in the second quarter of fiscal 2008. Return on equity, which improved slightly when compared to the same quarter a year ago, can be seen as a modest strength for the organization. In addition, a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.2 indicates that DeVry has successfully managed its debt levels.

Management was pleased not only with DeVry's financial results in the second quarter, but also with the employment rate of its graduates. Management stated that it was remarkable in the current job market to see 92% of recent graduates employed within six months of graduation. The company continues with a conservative capital structure that it feels is appropriate to the current economic climate, although it does continue to invest in growth opportunities. Looking ahead, DeVry expects its full year 2009 capital expenditure to be in the range of $65 million to $70 million. Although the company shows low profit margins, we feel that the strengths detailed above outweigh any weaknesses at this time.

New Jersey Resources ( NJR) is an energy services holding company that provides retail and wholesale energy services to customers in New Jersey, other states from the Gulf Coast to New England, and Canada. Our buy rating for New Jersey Resources Corporation has been in place since September 2002. This rating is supported by the company's solid stock price performance and notable return on equity.

For the first quarter of fiscal 2009, the company experienced declines in revenue and earnings, including a steep decline in EPS when compared to the same quarter a year ago. We feel that its EPS is likely to continue to fall in the coming year, but we are encouraged by other strengths despite this. Return on equity, for example, improved slightly when compared to the first quarter of fiscal 2008. This can be viewed as a modest strength for the organization. In addition, the stock's price has not only risen over the past year, but it has outperformed the S&P 500 despite the company's weak earnings results.

Looking forward, the company raised its net financial earnings guidance for the year to a range of $2.32 to $2.42 per basic share from a range of $2.30 to $2.40 per basic share. This increase is due to stronger-than-expected utility results.

Knight Capital Group ( NITE) is a financial services company that provides electronic and voice access to the capital markets for buy-side, sell-side, and corporate clients, as well as asset management for institutions and private clients in the United States. Our buy rating for this stock has been in place since January 2008. It is based on such strengths as the company's growth, efficiency, and solvency, along with its stock performance.

For the fourth quarter of fiscal 2008, Knight Capital reported revenue growth of 14.4% year over year. EPS also improved, rising from 52 cents to 89 cents. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive EPS growth over the past two years, although we anticipate possible underperformance in this pattern in the coming year. Net income increased 60.8% when compared to the same quarter a year ago, rising from $49.6 million to $79.7 million. Return on equity can be seen as a modest strength for Knight Capital, as it improved slightly in comparison with the prior year's quarter. In addition, a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.5 is low and below the Capital Markets industry's average, implying that Knight Capital has successfully managed its debt levels.

Management was pleased with growth in revenue and pre-tax income in the most recent quarter, considering its results outstanding given current economic conditions. The company shows somewhat low profit margins, but we believe that the strengths detailed above outweigh any potential weakness at this time.

Myriad Genetics ( MYGN) is a biopharmaceutical company focused on molecular diagnostic and therapeutic products, conducting research in the fields of cancer, Alzheimer's disease, and infectious diseases like AIDS. We have rated the stock a buy since August 2008. Our rating is based on a variety of strengths, such as the company's growth in revenue, net income and EPS, its solvency, and its stock performance.

For the second quarter of fiscal 2009, Myriad reported revenue growth of 48.7% year over year, which surpassed the Biotechnology industry's average of 23.7%. This growth appears to have helped boost EPS, which improved significantly when compared to the same quarter a year ago. EPS rose from a loss of 11 cents to a profit of 43 cents per share. We believe that the company should continue to show positive EPS growth in the future. Net income surged 518.5% in the second quarter, rising from a loss of $5.1 million to a profit of $21.2 million. Myriad's return on equity is a sign of significant strength within the company, as it increased greatly in comparison with the prior year's quarter. In addition, a debt-to-equity ratio of zero is a further favorable sign for the company, while its quick ratio of 7 clearly demonstrates the ability to cover short-term cash needs.

Although no company is perfect, we do not currently see any significant weaknesses that are likely to detract from the generally positive outlook for Myriad.

Our quantitative rating, which can be viewed for any stock through our stock screener stock rating screener, 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 a rating alone cannot tell the whole story and should be part of an investor's overall research.

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