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, all-around-value stocks are in the spotlight.These are stocks of companies that meet a number of criteria, including annual revenue of more than $500 million, lower-than-average valuations such as a price-to-sales ratio of less than 2, and leverage that is less than 49% of total capital. In addition, they must 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. Silgan Holdings ( SLGN) manufactures metal and plastic consumer goods packaging products, including metal food containers, vacuum closures for food and beverage products, and high density polyethylene and polyethylene terephthalate containers for the personal care market. Our buy rating for this stock has been in place since May 2004. The rating is based on such strengths as the company's growth, efficiency and total return. For the fourth quarter of fiscal 2008, Silgan reported slight revenue growth of 8.4% year over year. This growth appears to have helped boost EPS, which improved 23.1% when compared to the same quarter a year ago, continuing a trend of positive EPS growth. We feel that this trend should continue. Net income also increased in the fourth quarter, rising 22.3% from $19.9 million to $24.4 million. A slight increase in return on equity can be seen as a modest strength for the organization, and the stock's price has risen over the past year, reflecting earnings growth and other positive factors.
Management announced that both fourth quarter and full year earnings were records for the company. Looking ahead to fiscal 2009, the company anticipates adjusted net income per diluted share in the range of $3.75 to $3.95 for the full year. Although the company has shown generally poor debt management, we feel that the strengths indicated here outweigh any weaknesses and justify the stock's high price. FPL Group ( FPL) owns and operates Florida Power & Light Company, supplying electric service to a population of more than eight million throughout most of the east and lower west coasts of Florida. We have rated the stock a buy since January 2009 due to the company's impressive growth and strong fundamentals. For the fourth quarter of fiscal 2008, FPL's revenue grew 8.7% year over year to $4 billion due to higher energy prices, which increased from 10.7 cents per kilowatt hour to 11.6 cents per kilowatt hour. The revenue growth slightly outpaced the industry average of 1.5%, and appears to have helped boost EPS. Continuing a trend of positive EPS growth over the past two years, the company reported significant EPS improvement in the fourth quarter, aided by flat operating expenses and higher revenue. However, we anticipate underperformance relative to this pattern in the coming year. Net income increased by 81.7% when compared to the same quarter a year ago, rising from $224 million to $407 million. Net operating cash flow also increased during the quarter, growing 23.3% year over year. Higher margins were also a strength for FPL in the most recent quarter, as gross profit margin widened to 27.6% from 20.96% and operating margin expanded 725 basis points to 18.8%. One further strength for the organization was a slight improvement in return on equity, which increased from 12.2% to 14.03%.
Looking to the future, FPL Group recently received approval for several expansion projects. The group plans to add 7,000 to 9,000 megawatts of wind assets to its portfolio between fiscal 2008 and fiscal 2009. Bear in mind that rising debt, inadequate liquidity, and lower energy unit sales do put our current rating at risk, although we do feel that the strengths detailed above outweigh any potential weakness at this time. Family Dollar Stores ( FDO) operates a chain of almost 6,000 retail discount stores in a 44-state area, providing primarily low to lower-middle income consumers with a wide range of general merchandise at highly competitive prices in convenient neighborhood stores. We have rated the stock buy since July 2008. The rating is based on the company's outstanding fundamentals and recession-resistant business model. The company reported on April 8 that its revenue increased slightly in the second quarter of fiscal 2009, rising 8.7% year over year. This growth appears to have helped boost EPS, which improved 33.3% from 45 cents a year ago to 60 cents in the most recent quarter. Family Dollar's net income jumped 32.9%, increasing from $63.6 million to $84.1 million. The company's return on equity has also slightly improved from where it was a year ago. This change from 18.3% to 19.1% can be seen as a modest strength for Family Dollar. The company feels that its second quarter successes are due not only to budget-friendly consumer behavior generated by the current economic conditions, but also by the company's own investments in the enhancement of consumer's shopping experience. Looking forward to the third quarter, the company expects an increase of 7% to 9% in its net sales, along with EPS in the range of 54 cents to 58 cents per share. While we see the company's low profit margins as a potential weakness, we believe that the strengths detailed above justify the buy rating at this time and should continue to help Family Dollar's stock to move higher despite the fact that it has already enjoyed a very nice gain of 82.7% in the past year.
Elbit Systems ( ESLT) develops, manufactures, and integrates defense electronic and electro-optic systems primarily in Israel, the United States, and Europe. We have rated the stock a buy since April 2007 based on the company's robust revenue growth, compelling growth in net income, good cash flow from operations, notable return on equity and impressive record of earnings per share growth. For the fourth quarter of fiscal 2008, revenue growth came in higher than the industry average of 4.6%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 18.1%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost EPS, which improved significantly from 75 cents to $2.48. Although the company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past two years, we anticipate underperformance relative to this pattern in the coming year. Net income increased dramatically in the fourth quarter, rising 229.7% from $31.4 million to $105.3 million. A further sign of significant strength within the corporation is its increasing return on equity, which grew from 14.3% a year ago to 28.2% in the most recent quarter. Net operating cash flow also increased notably in the fourth quarter, rising 106.6% when compared to the same quarter last year. Management stated that Elbit ended 2008 in a strong position, with potential for continued growth. We see the company as having relatively poor debt management on most measures that we evaluated, but nevertheless, we feel that the strengths outlined above outweigh any weaknesses and the stock has strong upside potential, given current market conditions.
Sempra Energy ( SRE) is an energy services holding company that generates electricity and distributes and transmits natural gas in the U.S., Europe, Canada, and Mexico. A large portion of its business is conducted in California. We upgraded the stock from hold to buy in January 2009. Our rating is based on strengths such as Sempra's solvency, net income and EPS growth and return on equity. Although Sempra's revenue dropped in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2008, the company did outperform in comparison with the industry average. The declining revenue does not appear to have hurt the company's bottom line, as EPS improved 18.2% year over year, rising from 31 cents to 35 cents. Net income also increased in the fourth quarter, rising 10.3% when compared to the same quarter a year ago. Sempra's return on equity improved slightly and can be considered a modest strength for the company. In addition, a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.9 is somewhat low and seems to indicate that the company has successfully managed its debt levels. Looking ahead to fiscal 2009, the company reaffirmed its full-year EPS outlook of $4.35 to $4.60 per share. The company shows weak operating cash flow, but we feel that the strengths detailed above outweigh any potential weakness at this time. 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 that a rating alone cannot tell the whole story and that it should be part of an investor's overall research.