TheStreet.com 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.BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- The following companies have market capitalizations between $50 million and $500 million and "buy" ratings from our quantitative model, which considers more than 60 factors. They're ordered by their potential to appreciate, starting with the company with the best growth prospects. Hawkins ( HWKN) makes specialty chemicals. The numbers: Fiscal first-quarter earnings grew 24% to $6.1 million, or 58 cents a share, as revenue increased 18% to $74 million. Its gross margin remained steady at 24% and its operating margin advanced from 12% to 13%. Hawkins has an ideal financial position with no debt and ample cash reserves, evident in its quick ratio of 2.8. We give the company a financial strength score of 8.9 out of 10, higher than the "buy"-list average. The stock: Hawkins has increased 40% this year, outpacing major U.S. indices. The stock trades at a price-to-earnings ratio of 9, a vast discount to chemical peers and the overall market. The stock offers a 2.7% dividend yield. American Physicians Service Group ( AMPH) provides liability insurance and investment management services to medical professionals. The numbers: Second-quarter net income decreased 20% to $4.9 million, or 70 cents a share, as revenue declined 13% to $20 million. Its gross margin fell from 58% to 44% and its operating margin dropped from 51% to 38%. The company has an ideal financial position with $46 million of cash, compared to $6.5 million of debt. A debt-to-equity ratio of 0.1 reflects fiscal prudence. The stock: American Physicians Service Group is up 7% this year, trailing behind major U.S. indices. The stock trades at a price-to-earnings ratio of 9, a vast discount to the market and insurance peers. The company doesn't pay dividends.
Village Super Market ( VLGEA) owns the ShopRite supermarket chain. The numbers: Fiscal third-quarter profit increased 25% to $6.3 million, or 47 cents a share, as revenue increased 7% to $293 million. Its gross margin declined from 28% to 27%, but its operating margin rose from 3% to 4%. Sales at stores open at least a year, an important gauge for retailers, jumped more than 7%. The company has a modest $36 million debt load and $47 million of cash, which amounts to a quick ratio of 0.8 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.2. The stock: Village Super Market has climbed 4% this year, less than major U.S indices. The stock trades at a price-to-earnings ratio of 17, a slight discount to the market and food retail peers, and offers a 2.9% dividend yield. Balchem ( BCPC) sells specialty ingredients for food, animal feed and medications. The numbers: Second-quarter revenue declined 16% to $53 million, but earnings surged 45% to $6.9 million, or 36 cents a share. Its gross margin rose from 24% to 33% and its operating margin improved from 12% to 19%. Balchem has boosted cash reserves 926% to $27 million since the year-earlier quarter. A quick ratio of 1.9 indicates strong liquidity and $6.8 million of debt reflects modest leverage. The stock: Balchem shares are unchanged this year, lagging behind major U.S. indices. The stock trades at a price-to-earnings ratio of 21, which is equal to the market and chemical peers, and offers a dividend yield less than 1%.
The First of Long Island ( FLIC) is a commercial bank in New York. The numbers: Second-quarter profit increased 3% to $3.4 million, or 47 cents a share, as revenue grew 13% to $18 million. Its gross margin was little changed at 73% and its operating margin declined from 35% to 34%. The company is adequately capitalized, evident in its risk-based capital ratio of 17%. A debt-to-equity ratio of 1.5 indicates strong leverage. The stock: First of Long Island has increased 25% this year, beating the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 Index. The stock trades at a price-to-earnings ratio of 15, a discount to the market and other regional banks, and offers a 2.4% dividend yield. -- Reported by Jake Lynch in Boston Follow TheStreet.com on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.