The stock-market crash has resulted in once-great pillars of stability crumbling, leaving behind a rag-tag group of mid- and small-cap stocks to fill the void left at the top of TheStreet.com Ratings' rankings of the best companies in which to invest, according to our quantitative model.

Last year at this time, giants such as State Street ( STT), Raytheon ( RTN) and Petrobras ( PBR) were listed among the 30 top-rated stocks. All have now fallen to a "hold" rating. Our model is identifying medium-sized and small companies such as Village Super Market ( VLGEA) and ITT Educational Services ( ESI) as the best stocks. Shares of those companies may rise more than others when the stock market rebounds.

The combined market value of the top 30 companies as of March 16 is less than that of Petrobras alone. In a list of names that may be unfamiliar to some investors, only one large cap remains: Gilead Sciences ( GILD) has a market cap that is $37 billion greater than the next biggest company on our most recent rankings.

One of the smallest companies on the list is also one of the most highly rated. Village Super Market receives an overall grade of A from our model because of strong fundamentals and a conservative balance sheet. Less than 11% of the company's financing comes from debt. Over the past year, as the S&P 500 lost 38% of its value, Village Super Market gained 38%.

Small companies' strength is partly due to the fact that few are highly leveraged.

Another gem now gleaming in the spotlight is ITT Educational Services. Much like DeVry ( DV), another member of the top 30 companies list, ITT stands to gain from the downturn as people head back to campus for training and skills that will make them competitive in a brutal job market. In the past year, ITT has crushed the market with a return of 124%. Much like Village Super Market, ITT has strong fundamentals with a sensible debt level and strong cash flow from operations to fuel growth.

The small companies on this list may not be household names, but TSC Ratings' model identifies them as worthwhile investments due to sound fundamentals, which is an aspect of investing that is of the utmost importance in times like these.

Top 30 Companies: 3/16/2009
Company
Ticker
Market Cap
Overall Grade
PITTSBURGH & W VA RAILROAD
PW
15.86
A
VILLAGE SUPER MARKET
VLGEA
193.51
A
HMS HOLDINGS CORP
HMSY
905.08
A-
KNIGHT CAPITAL GROUP INC NITE 1,603.13 A-
MYRIAD GENETICS INC MYGN 3,906.40 A-
SYBASE INC SY 2,340.70 A-
NCI INC NCIT 216.50 A-
QUALITY SYSTEMS INC QSII 1,205.77 A-
GREEN MTN COFFEE ROASTERS GMCR 1,023.08 A-
ODYSSEY RE HOLDINGS CORP ORH 2,302.05 B+
AMERICAN PHYSICIANS CAPITAL ACAP 374.55 B+
COMPASS MINERALS INTL INC CMP 1,734.34 B+
DEVRY INC DV 3,285.70 B+
ORCHIDS PAPER PRODUCTS TIS 69.31 B+
GILEAD SCIENCES INC GILD 41,347.80 B+
MANTECH INTL CORP MANT 946.51 B+
ITT EDUCATIONAL SERVICES INC ESI 4,074.95 B+
BUFFALO WILD WINGS INC BWLD 618.53 B
PEGASYSTEMS INC PEGA 612.94 B
NVE CORP NVEC 158.00 B
FEMALE HEALTH CO FHC 92.85 B
SOHU.COM INC SOHU 1,845.91 B
NETFLIX INC NFLX 2,310.39 B
NETFLIX INC LANC 1,149.57 B
CHATTEM INC CHTT 1,100.26 B
EMERGENCY MEDICAL SVCS CORP EMS 300.31 B
INTERWOVEN INC IWOV 728.26 B
APPLIED SIGNAL TECHNOLOGY APSG 250.88 B
SHANDA INTERACTIVE-ADR SNDA 2,519.30 B
SYNAPTICS INC SYNA 832.38 B
Source: TheStreet.com Ratings (Data as of end of most recent month).
For an explanation of our ratings, click here..

Top 30 Companies: 3/01/2008
Company
Ticker
Market Cap
Overall Grade
WATSON WYATT WORLDWIDE INC
WW
2,301.06
A+
BECTON DICKINSON & CO
BDX
22,362.85
A+
BARD (C.R.) INC
BCR
10,091.88
A+
C H ROBINSON WORLDWIDE INC CHRW 8,997.02 A+
PLDT-PHILIPPINE LNG DIST TEL PHI 13,656.79 A+
BUCKLE INC BKE 1,274.81 A+
TEVA PHARMACEUTICALS TEVA 40,095.77 A+
CSX CORP CSX 20,886.14 A+
XTO ENERGY INC XTO 30,180.57 A+
CHASE CORP CCF 217.94 A+
STATE STREET CORP STT 32,227.76 A+
RAYTHEON CO RTN 28,428.71 A+
FLOWSERVE CORP FLS 6,006.45 A+
CANADIAN PACIFIC RAILWAY LTD CP 11,233.10 A+
BUCYRUS INTERNATIONAL INC BUCY 3,899.66 A+
GREIF INC GEF 2,829.60 A+
ATRION CORP ATRI 205.42 A+
GREIF INC GEF.B 2,829.60 A+
BARRICK GOLD CORP ABX 43,223.75 A+
BLACKROCK INC BLK 22,607.78 A+
TJX COMPANIES INC TJX 14,347.30 A+
PHARMACEUTICAL PROD DEV INC PPDI 5,568.13 A+
PARTNER COMMUNICATIONS CO PTNR 3,323.06 A+
TUPPERWARE BRANDS CORP TUP 2,327.32 A+
PETROBRAS-PETROLEO BRASILIER PBR 244,212.53 A+
BAXTER INTERNATIONAL INC BAX 38,044.38 A+
TURKCELL ILETISIM HIZMET TKC 21,832.80 A+
CHURCH & DWIGHT INC CHD 3,559.90 A+
L-3 COMMUNICATIONS HLDGS INC LLL 13,750.43 A+
LINDSAY CORP LNN 826.71 A
Source: TheStreet.com Ratings (Data as of end of most recent month).
For an explanation of our ratings, click here..

Prior to joining TheStreet.com Ratings, David MacDougall was an analyst at Cambridge Associates, an investment consulting firm, where he worked with private equity and venture capital funds. He graduated cum laude from Northeastern University with a bachelor's degree in finance and is a Level II CFA candidate.

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