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 solid outperformance on a total return basis.

TheStreet.com Ratings' model upgraded Avista ( AVA) to "buy." The company generates and distributes energy through its three subsidiaries: Avista Utilities, Energy Marketing and Resource Management and Advantage IQ.

The numbers: Fiscal first-quarter revenue fell 1.7% to $488 million as net income increased 23% to $31 million and earnings per share jumped 21% to 57 cents. Operating margin improved 161 basis points to 14% and net margin jumped 128 basis points to 6.4%. The company has a weak liquidity position, as indicated by just $36 million of reserves and a low quick ratio of 0.4. However, the cash balance has more than doubled since the year-earlier quarter. A debt-to-equity ratio of 1.14 is higher than ideal.

The stock: Avista is down 8% in 2009. The stock is cheap at a price-to-earnings ratio of 12 and offers an attractive 4.7% dividend yield.

The model upgraded Bally Technologies ( BYI) to "buy." The company manufactures and distributes gaming devices and computerized monitoring and accounting systems for the gaming industry.

The numbers: Fiscal third-quarter revenue decreased 11% to $208 million as net income fell 3.3% to $29 million and earnings per share remained flat at 52 cents. Operating margin improved 222 basis points to 25% and net margin climbed 109 basis points to 14%. The company has a strong liquidity position, with $70 million of cash reserves and a quick ratio of 1.5. A debt-to-equity ratio of 0.7 indicates conservative leverage.

The stock: Bally Technologies has ascended 19% in 2009, outperforming all major U.S. indexes. The stock trades at a fair price-to-earnings ratio of 13 and doesn't pay dividends.

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