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 annual revenue of more than $500 million, below-average valuations, debt that is less than 49% of total capital and receive "buy" ratings from our proprietary quantitative model, which considers more than 60 factors. They are ordered by their potential to appreciate, starting with the company with the best growth prospects. Village Super Market ( VLGEA) operates a 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%. Village Super Market's 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 over $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 is up 3% this year, trailing major U.S. indices. The stock trades at a price-to-earnings ratio of 17, a discount to the market and food retail peers. The shares pay a 2.9% dividend yield. MGE Energy ( MGEE) is a Wisconsin-based electric utility. 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. MGE's 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 11% in 2009, more than the Dow Jones Industrial Average, but less than the S&P 500 Index. The stock trades at a price-to-earnings ratio of 16, a discount to the market and utility peers. The shares pay a 4% dividend yield, higher than the S&P 500 average.
Ball Corp. ( BLL) manufactures metal and plastic packaging. The numbers: Second-quarter net income increased 33% to $133 million and earnings per share jumped 37% to $1.40, boosted by a lower share count. Revenue declined 7% to $1.9 billion. Ball Corp.'s 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 Corp. is up 19% 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 shares offer a dividend yield of less than 1%. Dollar Tree ( DLTR) operates discount variety stores. The numbers: Second-quarter net income surged 51% to $57 million, or 63 cents a share, as revenue jumped 12% to $1.2 billion. Dollar Tree's gross margin rose from 37% to 38% and its operating margin increased from 6% to 7%. A quick ratio of 0.8 indicates less-than-ideal liquidity. But the company holds $358 million of cash, compared to $268 million of debt. A debt-to-equity ratio of 0.2 reflects fiscal prudence. The stock: Dollar Tree has advanced 17% this year, outpacing the Dow and S&P 500. The stock trades at a price-to-earnings ratio of 17, a discount to the market and general merchandise peers. The company doesn't pay dividends.
ManTech ( MANT) is a cyber-warfare specialist, providing services to U.S. government agencies. The numbers: Second-quarter net income grew 30% to $29 million and earnings per share jumped 29% to 80 cents, restrained by a higher share count. ManTech's gross margin rose from 16% to 18% and its operating margin increased from 8% to 9%. A quick ratio of 1.8 indicates ample liquidity. The company holds minimal debt. The stock: ManTech has fallen 3% this year, underperforming major U.S. indices. The stock trades at a price-to-earnings ratio of 19, a discount to the market and tech consulting peers. The company doesn't pay dividends. TheStreet.com Ratings was given an award this year for "Best Stock Selection" among independent research providers by BNY ConvergEx Group. A rating can be viewed for any stock through our screener. Ratings are derived from a variety of fundamental and pricing figures and represent our opinion of risk-adjusted performance. However, the rating doesn't incorporate all factors that can alter a stock's performance. -- Reported by Jake Lynch in Boston.