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 rose 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 30% this year, outpacing major U.S. indices. The stock trades at a price-to-earnings ratio of 8, a discount to chemical companies and the market. Its shares offer a 2.8% dividend yield. American Physicians Service Group ( AMPH) sells liability insurance and investment management services to health care providers. 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 indicates fiscal prudence. The stock: American Physicians Service is up 8% this year, beating the Dow Jones Industrial Average, but underperforming the S&P 500 Index. The stock trades at a price-to-earnings ratio of 9, a discount to insurers and the market. The company doesn't pay dividends.
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 higher-than-ideal leverage. The stock: First Long Island has increased 17% this year, more than the Dow and S&P 500. The stock trades at a price-to-earnings ratio of 14, a discount to other regional banks and the market. The shares offer a 2.6% dividend yield. NCI ( NCIT) provides engineering and technology services to the government. The numbers: Second-quarter profit rose 26% to $5.1 million, or 37 cents a share, as revenue increased 13% to $109 million. Its gross margin declined from 14% to 13% and its operating margin rose from 8% to 9%. A quick ratio of 1.6 demonstrates ample liquidity and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.2 indicates modest leverage. The stock: NCI is down 9% this year, trailing major U.S. indices. The stock trades at a price-to-earnings ratio of 20, equal to the market, but a discount to tech consultants. The company doesn't pay dividends. Aaon ( AAON) makes air-conditioning and heating equipment. The numbers: Second-quarter net income decreased 9% to $7.1 million, or 41 cents a share. Revenue declined 8% to $69 million. Its gross margin rose from 27% to 30% and its operating margin remained steady at 16%. Aaon has a strong financial position with minimal debt and adequate liquidity, evident in its quick ratio of 1.3.
The stock: Aaon has dropped 3% this year, lagging behind U.S. indices. The stock trades at a price-to-earnings ratio of 12, a discount to building-product makers and the market. Shares offer a 1.8% dividend yield. -- Reported by Jake Lynch in Boston.