TSC Ratings provides exclusive stock, ETF and mutual fund ratings and commentary based on award-winning, proprietary tools. Its "safety-first" approach to investing aims to reduce risk while seeking outperformance on a total return basis.TheStreet.com Ratings downgraded BlackRock ( BLK) to "hold." The company provides investment management, risk management and advisory services. The numbers: Fiscal first-quarter revenue fell 24% to $987 million as net income declined 65% to $84 million and earnings per share dropped 66% to 62 cents. Operating margin fell 74 basis points to 30% and net margin dropped 1,007 basis points to 8.5%. BlackRock's financial position is strong with just $1.1 billion of debt, compared to $1.8 billion of cash. Although BlackRock is one of the strongest players in the financial sector and its recently announced acquisition of Barclays Global Investors is a long-run positive, its share price has risen quickly and it is now trading at a premium. The stock: BlackRock has ascended 22% in 2009, outperforming all major U.S. indexes. The stock trades at a high price-to-earnings ratio of 35 and offers a low 1.9% dividend yield. TheStreet.com Ratings downgraded EZCORP ( EZPW) to "hold." The company provides short-term credit to individuals in loan stores and pawn shops throughout the U.S. The numbers: Fiscal second-quarter revenue rose 38% to $156 million. Net income increased 41% to $18 million, but earnings per share jumped a more modest 23% to 37 cents due to a higher share count. Operating margin remained flat at 17% and net margin improved 27 basis points to 12%. The company has an outstanding liquidity position, as reflected by $55 million of cash and a quick ratio of 3.6, and has a low debt-to-equity ratio of 0.11. EZCORP has dropped 21% since June 11, when it lowered its sales and net income guidance due to a demand drop.
The stock: EZCORP is off 33% in 2009, underperforming all major U.S. indexes. Investors are shunning the stock and have pushed it down to discount levels. It is currently trading at a price-to-earnings ratio under 8 and doesn't pay dividends. TheStreet.com Ratings upgraded Iron Mountain ( IRM) to "buy." The company provides information protection and storage services in North America, Europe, Latin America and Asia Pacific. The numbers: Fiscal first-quarter revenue decreased 3.5% to $723 million as net income fell 14% to $29 million and earnings per share declined 13% to 14 cents. Operating margin improved 189 basis points to 17%, but net margin dropped 48 basis points to 4%. The company has $271 million of cash reserves, amounting to an impressive quick ratio of 1.26. But Iron Mountain's proportion of debt financing is high, with a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.74. The stock: Shares of Iron Mountain have increased 11% in 2009, outperforming the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500. The stock trades at an exorbitant price-to-earnings ratio of 72 and doesn't pay dividends. But a strong operating performance for the rest of 2009 could justify the high multiple. TheStreet.com Ratings upgraded Ohio Valley Bancorp ( OVBC) to "buy." The company provides regional commercial and retail banking services. The numbers: Fiscal first-quarter revenue declined 4.2% to $15 million as net income improved 4.1% to $2.1 million and earnings per share increased 6.3% to 51 cents. Net margin widened 112 basis points to 14%. The company has a sizable debt burden, with a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.42, but holds $51 million of cash reserves, which is roughly 55% of its debt load.
The stock: Ohio Valley Bancorp has climbed a remarkable 64% in 2009, by far outperforming all major U.S. indexes. The stock trades at a fair price-to-earnings ratio of 17 and offers a 2.6% dividend yield. TheStreet.com Ratings initiated coverage of SmartHeat ( HEAT) at "hold." The company manufactures energy-saving equipment in China. The numbers: Fiscal first-quarter revenue rose 50% to $6.2 million as net income more than doubled to $1 million. Earnings per share increased a more modest 33% due to a higher share count. Operating margin improved 655 basis points to 22% and net margin jumped 117 basis points to 16%. The company has $1 million of cash reserves, amounting to a strong quick ratio of 1.66, and has chosen to finance itself primarily with equity, leading to a conservative debt-to-equity ratio of 0.13. The company is carving out a niche in China's fast-growing energy space. It is a micro-cap worthy of consideration. The stock: Shares of SmartHeat have inched up 1% since listing on the Nasdaq in late January. The stock trades at a price-to-earnings ratio of 21 and doesn't pay dividends.