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) -- These companies have annual revenue that's more than $500 million, below-average valuations, debt that's less than 49% of total capital 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. Village Super Market ( VLGEA) operates the ShopRite supermarket chain. The numbers: Fiscal third-quarter net income increased 25% to $6.3 million, or 47 cents a share, as revenue increased 7% to $293 million. Same-store sales, a key gauge of retailer improvement, jumped 7%. Its gross margin decreased from 28% to 27%, but its operating margin rose from 3% to 4%. The company has a modest $36 million debt load and more than $47 million of cash, translating to a quick ratio of 0.8 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.2. The stock: Village Super Market shares are flat this year, trailing behind major U.S. indices. The stock trades at a price-to-earnings ratio of 17, a discount to the market and grocery peers. The shares offer a 3% dividend yield. Church & Dwight ( CHD) sells household products, including Arm & Hammer baking soda and Brillo pads. The numbers: Second-quarter net income increased 27% to $58 million, or 88 cents a share. Revenue jumped 5% to $623 million. Its gross margin rose from 44% to 49% and its operating margin expanded from 14% to 18%. A quick ratio of 1.2 demonstrates ample liquidity and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.5 indicates conservative leverage.
The stock: Church & Dwight is up 1% this year, lagging behind major U.S. indices. The stock trades at a price-to-earnings ratio of 19, a slight discount to the market, but a premium to other makers of home products. The shares offer a 1% dividend yield. MGE Energy ( MGEE) is a Wisconsin-based electric company. The numbers: Second-quarter net income dropped 6% to $10 million and earnings per share fell 10% to 43 cents, hurt by a higher share count. Revenue decreased 14% to $108 million. Its gross margin rose from 23% to 25% and its operating margin climbed from 15% to 16%. A quick ratio of 0.3 and $12 million of cash demonstrate weak liquidity. But a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.7 is lower than the industry average, indicating restrained leverage. The stock: MGE has advanced 8% this year, beating the Dow Jones Industrial Average, but trailing the S&P 500. The stock trades at a price-to-earnings ratio of 15, a discount to the market and utility peers. The shares offer a 4% dividend yield, higher than the S&P 500 average. Ball Corp. ( BLL) makes metal and plastic packaging. The numbers: Second-quarter net income increased 33% to $133 million, or $1.40 a share. Revenue declined 7% to $1.9 billion. Its gross margin rose from 16% to 17% and its operating margin climbed from 9% to 10%. A quick ratio of 0.5 demonstrates weak liquidity and a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.8 indicates excessive leverage. The stock: Ball is up 16% this year, beating the Dow and S&P 500. The stock trades at a price-to-earnings ratio of 14, a discount to the market and container peers. The stock's dividend yield is less than 1%.
Sykes Enterprises ( SYKE) provides customer contact services. The numbers: Second-quarter earnings dropped 19% to $14 million, or 35 cents a share, as revenue increased marginally to $209 million. Its gross margin remained steady at 29% and its operating margin rose from 8% to 9%. Sykes has an outstanding financial position, with zero debt and ample cash reserves, evident in its quick ratio of 3.5. We give the company a financial strength score of 8 out of 10. The stock: Sykes has advanced 10% this year, more than the Dow, but less than the S&P 500. The stock trades at a price-to-earnings ratio of 15, a discount to the market and outsourcing peers. The company doesn't pay dividends. -- Reported by Jake Lynch in Boston.