TSC Ratings provides exclusive stock, ETF and mutual fund recommendations using proprietary tools. Our "safety first" approach aims to reduce risk while achieving total return performance.

The following small-cap companies have market values between $50 million and $500 million and receive "buy" ratings from our proprietary quantitative model, which considers more than 60 factors. They are ordered by their potential to appreciate.

Hawkins ( HWKN) blends and distributes bulk and specialty chemicals for water treatment, and industrial and pharmaceutical use.

The numbers: Fiscal fourth-quarter revenue rose 32% to $68 million as net income surged 194% to $5.1 million and earnings per share climbed 182% to 48 cents. The operating margin increased to 11% and the net margin jumped to 8%. The company has zero debt and ample liquidity, as reflected by a quick ratio of 2.1.

The stock: Hawkins has increased 30% in 2009, outperforming all major U.S. indexes. Yet the stock trades at a price-to-earnings ratio under 9, indicating a discount to the market, and pays a 2.6% dividend yield.

American Physicians Group ( AMPH) provides medical professional liability insurance for physicians and health-care providers in Texas. The company also has an investment arm that provides advice and asset management to institutions and wealthy individuals.

The numbers: First-quarter revenue fell 2% to $19 million as net income ascended 40% to $4.7 million and earnings per share increased 46% to 67 cents. The operating margin surged to 38% and the net margin climbed to 25%. The company boasts minimal debt and ample liquidity, as reflected by $38 million of cash.

The stock: American Physicians Group is up 7% in 2009, outperforming the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500. The stock trades at a cheap price-to-earnings ratio of 8, but offers a weak 1.3% dividend yield.

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