NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Mine Safety Appliances Company (NYSE: MSA) has been upgraded by TheStreet Ratings from hold to buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, expanding profit margins, solid stock price performance and largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • MSA's debt-to-equity ratio of 0.84 is somewhat low overall, but it is high when compared to the industry average, implying that the management of the debt levels should be evaluated further. Regardless of the somewhat mixed results with the debt-to-equity ratio, the company's quick ratio of 1.49 is sturdy.
  • MINE SAFETY APPLIANCES CO's earnings per share declined by 8.6% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has suffered a declining pattern of earnings per share over the past two years. However, we anticipate this trend to reverse over the coming year. During the past fiscal year, MINE SAFETY APPLIANCES CO reported lower earnings of $1.04 versus $1.20 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($1.75 versus $1.04).
  • Compared to its closing price of one year ago, MSA's share price has jumped by 33.40%, exceeding the performance of the broader market during that same time frame. Looking ahead, the stock's sharp rise over the last year has already helped drive it to a level which is relatively expensive compared to the rest of its industry. We feel, however, that other strengths this company displays justify these higher price levels.
  • 41.40% is the gross profit margin for MINE SAFETY APPLIANCES CO which we consider to be strong. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Regardless of the strong results of the gross profit margin, the net profit margin of 4.10% trails the industry average.
  • The revenue growth came in higher than the industry average of 0.9%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 20.7%. This growth in revenue does not appear to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, displayed by a decline in earnings per share.

Mine Safety Appliances Company develops, manufactures, and supplies health and safety products used by workers in the fire service, homeland security, construction, and other industries, as well as the military. The company has a P/E ratio of 35.2, equal to the average health services industry P/E ratio and above the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 16.8. Mine Safety has a market cap of $1.4 billion and is part of the health care sector and health services industry. Shares are up 20.3% year to date as of the close of trading on Monday.

You can view the full Mine Safety Ratings Report or get investment ideas from our investment research center.

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