TheStreet Ratings Top 10 Rating Changes

NEW YORK ( TheStreet Ratings) -- Every trading day TheStreet Ratings' stock model reviews the investment ratings on around 4,900 U.S. traded stocks for potential upgrades or downgrades based on the latest available financial results and trading activity.

TheStreet Ratings released rating changes on 103 U.S. common stocks for week ending July 29, 2011. 61 stocks were upgraded and 42 stocks were downgraded by our stock model.

Rating Change #10

Las Vegas Sands ( LVS) has been upgraded by TheStreet Ratings from hold to buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, impressive record of earnings per share growth, compelling growth in net income and solid stock price performance. Although no company is perfect, currently we do not see any significant weaknesses which are likely to detract from the generally positive outlook.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • Powered by its strong earnings growth of 4600.00% and other important driving factors, this stock has surged by 76.62% over the past year, outperforming the rise in the S&P 500 Index during the same period. 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.
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Hotels, Restaurants & Leisure industry. The net income increased by 882.2% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $41.81 million to $410.64 million.
  • LAS VEGAS SANDS CORP reported significant earnings per share improvement in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past two years. We feel that this trend should continue. During the past fiscal year, LAS VEGAS SANDS CORP turned its bottom line around by earning $0.50 versus -$0.82 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($1.91 versus $0.50).
  • The revenue growth greatly exceeded the industry average of 6.3%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 47.1%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.

Las Vegas Sands Corp., together with its subsidiaries, owns, develops, and operates various integrated resort properties primarily in the United States, Macau, and Singapore. The company has a P/E ratio of 36.7, below the average leisure industry P/E ratio of 37 and above the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Las Vegas Sands has a market cap of $34.5 billion and is part of the services sector and leisure industry. Shares are up 2.6% year to date as of the close of trading on Friday.

You can view the full Las Vegas Sands Ratings Report or get investment ideas from our investment research center.

Rating Change #9

Gilead ( GILD) 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, solid stock price performance, growth in earnings per share, increase in net income and attractive valuation levels. Although the company may harbor some minor weaknesses, we feel they are unlikely to have a significant impact on results.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the Biotechnology industry average, but is less than that of the S&P 500. The net income increased by 4.8% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, going from $712.06 million to $746.23 million.
  • GILEAD SCIENCES INC has improved earnings per share by 17.7% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past two years. We feel that this trend should continue. During the past fiscal year, GILEAD SCIENCES INC increased its bottom line by earning $3.30 versus $2.83 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($3.95 versus $3.30).
  • Investors have apparently begun to recognize positive factors similar to those we have mentioned in this report, including earnings growth. This has helped drive up the company's shares by a sharp 26.26% over the past year, a rise that has exceeded that of the S&P 500 Index. Regarding the stock's future course, although almost any stock can fall in a broad market decline, GILD should continue to move higher despite the fact that it has already enjoyed a very nice gain in the past year.
  • The revenue growth came in higher than the industry average of 7.8%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 10.9%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.

Gilead Sciences, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company, engages in the discovery, development, and commercialization of therapeutics for the treatment of life threatening diseases worldwide. The company has a P/E ratio of 13.3, equal to the average drugs industry P/E ratio and below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Gilead has a market cap of $33.6 billion and is part of the health care sector and drugs industry. Shares are up 16.3% year to date as of the close of trading on Wednesday.

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

Rating Change #8

Exelon Corporation ( EXC) 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, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, increase in stock price during the past year and notable return on equity. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows weak operating cash flow.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • The company's current return on equity has slightly decreased from the same quarter one year prior. This implies a minor weakness in the organization. Compared to other companies in the Electric Utilities industry and the overall market, EXELON CORP's return on equity exceeds that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • EXELON CORP's earnings per share declined by 10.6% 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, EXELON CORP reported lower earnings of $3.86 versus $4.09 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($4.09 versus $3.86).
  • Compared to where it was 12 months ago, the stock is up, but it has so far lagged the appreciation in the S&P 500. Turning our attention to the future direction of the stock, it goes without saying that even the best stocks can fall in an overall down market. However, in any other environment, this stock still has good upside potential despite the fact that it has already risen in the past year.
  • The debt-to-equity ratio is somewhat low, currently at 0.96, and is less than that of the industry average, implying that there has been a relatively successful effort in the management of debt levels. Despite the fact that EXC's debt-to-equity ratio is low, the quick ratio, which is currently 0.68, displays a potential problem in covering short-term cash needs.
  • EXC's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 5.3%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 13.2%. 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.

Exelon Corporation operates as a utility services holding company in the United States. The company primarily engages in the generation of electricity. It generates electricity from nuclear, fossil, hydroelectric, and renewable energy sources. The company has a P/E ratio of 11.7, equal to the average utilities industry P/E ratio and below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Exelon has a market cap of $28.9 billion and is part of the utilities sector and utilities industry. Shares are up 6.3% year to date as of the close of trading on Tuesday.

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

Rating Change #7

Chesapeake Energy Corp ( CHK) 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, impressive record of earnings per share growth, compelling growth in net income, solid stock price performance and expanding profit margins. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows weak operating cash flow.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • 46.80% is the gross profit margin for CHESAPEAKE ENERGY CORP which we consider to be strong. Regardless of CHK's high profit margin, it has managed to decrease from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, CHK's net profit margin of 15.30% compares favorably to the industry average.
  • Powered by its strong earnings growth of 83.78% and other important driving factors, this stock has surged by 58.28% over the past year, outperforming the rise in the S&P 500 Index during the same period. We feel that the stock's sharp appreciation over the last year has driven it to a price level which is now somewhat expensive compared to the rest of its industry. The other strengths this company shows, however, justify the higher price levels.
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Oil, Gas & Consumable Fuels industry. The net income increased by 99.6% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $255.00 million to $509.00 million.
  • CHESAPEAKE ENERGY CORP reported significant earnings per share improvement in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past two years. We feel that this trend should continue. During the past fiscal year, CHESAPEAKE ENERGY CORP turned its bottom line around by earning $2.54 versus -$9.78 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($2.96 versus $2.54).
  • CHK's very impressive revenue growth exceeded the industry average of 42.3%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues leaped by 64.9%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.

Chesapeake Energy Corporation, together with its subsidiaries, produces natural gas in the United States. The company has a P/E ratio of 31.8, above the average energy industry P/E ratio of 31.2 and above the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Chesapeake Energy has a market cap of $22 billion and is part of the basic materials sector and energy industry. Shares are up 29% year to date as of the close of trading on Friday.

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

Rating Change #6

Canadian Pacific Railway ( CP) 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, good cash flow from operations and increase in stock price during the past year. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • CP'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. Despite the fact that CP's debt-to-equity ratio is mixed in its results, the company's quick ratio of 0.61 is low and demonstrates weak liquidity.
  • Compared to where it was 12 months ago, the stock is up, but it has so far lagged the appreciation in the S&P 500. The stock's price rise over the last year has driven it to a level which is somewhat expensive compared to the rest of its industry. We feel, however, that other strengths this company displays justify these higher price levels.
  • CANADIAN PACIFIC RAILWAY LTD's earnings per share declined by 23.5% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. This company has not demonstrated a clear trend in earnings over the past two years, making it difficult to accurately predict earnings for the coming year. During the past fiscal year, CANADIAN PACIFIC RAILWAY LTD increased its bottom line by earning $3.83 versus $3.66 in the prior year.
  • Net operating cash flow has increased to $212.30 million or 14.81% when compared to the same quarter last year. Despite an increase in cash flow, CANADIAN PACIFIC RAILWAY LTD's cash flow growth rate is still lower than the industry average growth rate of 30.84%.
  • CP's revenue growth trails the industry average of 16.0%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 2.5%. 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.

Canadian Pacific Railway Limited, through its subsidiaries, operates a transcontinental railway, and provides rail and intermodal freight transportation services. The company has a P/E ratio of 17.3, below the average transportation industry P/E ratio of 17.9 and below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Canadian Pacific Railway has a market cap of $10.5 billion and is part of the services sector and transportation industry. Shares are down 5.5% year to date as of the close of trading on Thursday.

You can view the full Canadian Pacific Railway Ratings Report or get investment ideas from our investment research center.

Rating Change #5

Companhia Siderurgica Nacional ( SID) has been downgraded by TheStreet Ratings from buy to hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its growth in earnings per share, robust revenue growth and good cash flow from operations. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself and generally poor debt management.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • SID's stock share price has done very poorly compared to where it was a year ago: Despite any rallies, the net result is that it is down by 36.12%, which is also worse that the performance of the S&P 500 Index. Investors have so far failed to pay much attention to the earnings improvements the company has managed to achieve over the last quarter. Naturally, the overall market trend is bound to be a significant factor. However, in one sense, the stock's sharp decline last year is a positive for future investors, making it cheaper (in proportion to its earnings over the past year) than most other stocks in its industry. But due to other concerns, we feel the stock is still not a good buy right now.
  • The debt-to-equity ratio is very high at 2.64 and currently higher than the industry average, implying that there is very poor management of debt levels within the company. Regardless of the company's weak debt-to-equity ratio, SID has managed to keep a strong quick ratio of 2.37, which demonstrates the ability to cover short-term cash needs.
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly increased by 124.00% to $563.45 million when compared to the same quarter last year. Despite an increase in cash flow of 124.00%, COMPANHIA SIDERURGICA NACION is still growing at a significantly lower rate than the industry average of 218.05%.
  • SID's revenue growth trails the industry average of 46.5%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 30.2%. This growth in revenue appears to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, improving the earnings per share.
  • COMPANHIA SIDERURGICA NACION has improved earnings per share by 35.1% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past year. We feel that this trend should continue. This trend suggests that the performance of the business is improving. During the past fiscal year, COMPANHIA SIDERURGICA NACION increased its bottom line by earning $1.04 versus $1.00 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($2.10 versus $1.04).

Companhia Siderurgica Nacional produces and sells steel and steel products for the automobile, civil construction, packaging, home appliances, and original equipment manufacture applications in Brazil and internationally. The company has a P/E ratio of 10.5, above the average metals & mining industry P/E ratio of 8.4 and below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Companhia Siderurgica Nacional has a market cap of $15.9 billion and is part of the basic materials sector and metals & mining industry. Shares are down 36.2% year to date as of the close of trading on Thursday.

You can view the full Companhia Siderurgica Nacional Ratings Report or get investment ideas from our investment research center.

Rating Change #4

VeriSign Incorporated ( VRSN) has been downgraded by TheStreet Ratings from buy to hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, revenue growth and expanding profit margins. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including unimpressive growth in net income, weak operating cash flow and feeble growth in the company's earnings per share.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • Net operating cash flow has decreased to $12.95 million or 49.89% when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, when comparing to the industry average, the firm's growth rate is much lower.
  • The company, on the basis of change in net income from the same quarter one year ago, has significantly underperformed when compared to that of the S&P 500 and the Internet Software & Services industry. The net income has significantly decreased by 130.1% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, falling from $35.21 million to -$10.61 million.
  • The gross profit margin for VERISIGN INC is currently very high, coming in at 85.80%. 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 -5.60% is in-line with the industry average.
  • VRSN's revenue growth trails the industry average of 26.3%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 12.5%. 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.
  • Despite the fact that VRSN's debt-to-equity ratio is mixed in its results, the company's quick ratio of 2.16 is high and demonstrates strong liquidity.

VeriSign, Inc. provides Internet infrastructure services to various networks worldwide. The company provides domain name registry services and network intelligence and availability (NIA) services. The company has a P/E ratio of 68.1, above the average computer software & services industry P/E ratio of 6.9 and above the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. VeriSign has a market cap of $5.5 billion and is part of the technology sector and computer software & services industry. Shares are down 2% year to date as of the close of trading on Friday.

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

Rating Change #3

Qiagen ( QGEN) has been downgraded by TheStreet Ratings from buy to hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and expanding profit margins. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself, deteriorating net income and disappointing return on equity.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • Reflecting the weaknesses we have cited, including the decline in the company's earnings per share, QGEN has underperformed the S&P 500 Index, declining 6.91% from its price level of one year ago. Looking ahead, other than the push or pull of the broad market, we do not see anything in the company's numbers that may help reverse the decline experienced over the past 12 months. Despite the past decline, the stock is still selling for more than most others in its industry.
  • The company's current return on equity has slightly decreased from the same quarter one year prior. This implies a minor weakness in the organization. In comparison to the other companies in the Life Sciences Tools & Services industry and the overall market, QIAGEN NV's return on equity is significantly below that of the industry average and is below that of the S&P 500.
  • The gross profit margin for QIAGEN NV is rather high; currently it is at 64.60%. Despite the high profit margin, it has decreased significantly from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, the net profit margin of 11.80% trails the industry average.
  • The current debt-to-equity ratio, 0.34, is low and is below the industry average, implying that there has been successful management of debt levels. Along with this, the company maintains a quick ratio of 3.18, which clearly demonstrates the ability to cover short-term cash needs.
  • Despite its growing revenue, the company underperformed as compared with the industry average of 13.5%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 7.4%. 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.

QIAGEN N.V., through its subsidiaries, provides sample and assay technologies. The company has a P/E ratio of 28.1, below the average drugs industry P/E ratio of 29.5 and above the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Qiagen has a market cap of $4 billion and is part of the health care sector and drugs industry. Shares are down 13% year to date as of the close of trading on Friday.

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

Rating Change #2

HCC Insurance Holdings ( HCC) has been downgraded by TheStreet Ratings from buy to hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, attractive valuation levels and good cash flow from operations. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including feeble growth in the company's earnings per share, poor profit margins and disappointing return on equity.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • HCC INSURANCE HOLDINGS INC's earnings per share declined by 33.9% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. Earnings per share have declined over the last year. We anticipate that this should continue in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, HCC INSURANCE HOLDINGS INC reported lower earnings of $2.99 versus $3.11 in the prior year. For the next year, the market is expecting a contraction of 11.0% in earnings ($2.66 versus $2.99).
  • The gross profit margin for HCC INSURANCE HOLDINGS INC is currently extremely low, coming in at 12.90%. It has decreased from the same quarter the previous year. Regardless of the weak results of the gross profit margin, the net profit margin of 8.30% is above that of the industry average.
  • Compared to where it was a year ago today, the stock is now trading at a higher level, regardless of the company's weak earnings results. Despite the fact that it has already risen in the past year, there is currently no conclusive evidence that warrants the purchase or sale of this stock.
  • HCC's debt-to-equity ratio is very low at 0.09 and is currently below that of the industry average, implying that there has been very successful management of debt levels.

HCC Insurance Holdings, Inc., together with its subsidiaries, provides property and casualty, surety, group life, accident, and health insurance coverage, as well as related agency and reinsurance brokerage services to commercial customers and individuals worldwide. The company has a P/E ratio of 11.2, equal to the average insurance industry P/E ratio and below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. HCC has a market cap of $3.5 billion and is part of the financial sector and insurance industry. Shares are up 4.8% year to date as of the close of trading on Thursday.

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

Rating Change #1

Chimera Investment Corporation ( CIM) has been downgraded by TheStreet Ratings from buy to hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, attractive valuation levels and good cash flow from operations. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including generally poor debt management, a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself and feeble growth in the company's earnings per share.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • Currently the debt-to-equity ratio of 1.76 is quite high overall and when compared to the industry average, suggesting that the current management of debt levels should be re-evaluated.
  • Reflecting the weaknesses we have cited, including the decline in the company's earnings per share, CIM has underperformed the S&P 500 Index, declining 15.59% from its price level of one year ago. The fact that the stock is now selling for less than others in its industry in relation to its current earnings is not reason enough to justify a buy rating at this time.
  • The gross profit margin for CHIMERA INVESTMENT CORP is currently very high, coming in at 93.10%. Regardless of CIM's high profit margin, it has managed to decrease from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, CIM's net profit margin of 71.70% significantly outperformed against the industry.
  • The revenue growth came in higher than the industry average of 7.3%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 26.6%. 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.

Chimera Investment Corporation operates as a real estate investment trust (REIT) in the United States. The company has a P/E ratio of 5.4, equal to the average real estate industry P/E ratio and below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Chimera Investment has a market cap of $3.4 billion and is part of the financial sector and real estate industry. Shares are down 20.9% year to date as of the close of trading on Tuesday.

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

-- Reported by Kevin Baker in Jupiter, Fla.

For additional Investment Research check out our Ratings Research Center.

For all other upgrades and downgrades made by TheStreet Ratings Model today check out our upgrades and downgrades list.

Kevin Baker became the senior financial analyst for TheStreet Ratings upon the August 2006 acquisition of Weiss Ratings by TheStreet.com, covering equity and mutual fund ratings. He joined the Weiss Group in 1997 as a banking and brokerage analyst. In 1999, he created the Weiss Group's first ratings to gauge the level of risk in U.S. equities. Baker received a B.S. degree in management from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and an M.B.A. with a finance specialization from Nova Southeastern University.

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