TheStreet Ratings Top 10 Rating Changes

NEW YORK ( TheStreet Ratings) -- Every trading day TheStreet Ratings' stock model reviews the investment ratings on around 4,700 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 95 U.S. common stocks for week ending March 2, 2012. 68 stocks were upgraded and 27 stocks were downgraded by our stock model.

Rating Change #10

ATMI Inc ( ATMI) 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, solid stock price performance and expanding profit margins. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including deteriorating net income, disappointing return on equity and feeble growth in the company's earnings per share.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • ATMI has no debt to speak of therefore resulting in a debt-to-equity ratio of zero, which we consider to be a relatively favorable sign. Along with this, the company maintains a quick ratio of 3.60, which clearly demonstrates the ability to cover short-term cash needs.
  • Looking at where the stock is today compared to one year ago, we find that it is not only higher, but it has also clearly outperformed the rise in the S&P 500 over the same period, despite 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.
  • The revenue fell significantly faster than the industry average of 26.3%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly dropped by 5.9%. Weakness in the company's revenue seems to have hurt the bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.
  • 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 Semiconductors & Semiconductor Equipment industry. The net income has significantly decreased by 442.9% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, falling from $13.77 million to -$47.20 million.
  • Return on equity has greatly decreased when compared to its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a signal of major weakness within the corporation. Compared to other companies in the Semiconductors & Semiconductor Equipment industry and the overall market, ATMI INC's return on equity significantly trails that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
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ATMI, Inc. supplies high performance materials, materials packaging, and materials delivery systems for use in the manufacture of microelectronics devices worldwide. ATMI has a market cap of $739.1 million and is part of the technology sector and electronics industry. Shares are up 10% year to date as of the close of trading on Thursday.

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

Rating Change #9

Vanguard Natural Resources LLC ( VNR) 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, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and notable return on equity. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including unimpressive growth in net income, a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself and feeble growth in the company's earnings per share.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • VNR's very impressive revenue growth greatly exceeded the industry average of 22.9%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues leaped by 62.9%. 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.
  • VNR's debt-to-equity ratio of 0.91 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 1.11 is sturdy.
  • The return on equity has improved slightly when compared to the same quarter one year prior. This can be construed as a modest strength in the organization. In comparison to the other companies in the Oil, Gas & Consumable Fuels industry and the overall market, VANGUARD NATURAL RESOURCES's return on equity is significantly below that of the industry average and is below that of the S&P 500.
  • The share price of VANGUARD NATURAL RESOURCES has not done very well: it is down 10.24% and has underperformed the S&P 500, in part reflecting the company's sharply declining earnings per share when compared to the year-earlier quarter. Turning toward the future, the fact that the stock has come down in price over the past year should not necessarily be interpreted as a negative; it could be one of the factors that may help make the stock attractive down the road. Right now, however, we believe that it is too soon to buy.
  • 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 Oil, Gas & Consumable Fuels industry. The net income has significantly decreased by 169.9% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, falling from -$5.64 million to -$15.21 million.
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Vanguard Natural Resources, LLC, through its subsidiaries, engages in the acquisition and development of oil and natural gas properties in the United States. The company has a P/E ratio of 12.5, below the average energy industry P/E ratio of 12.6 and below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Vanguard Natural has a market cap of $826.8 million and is part of the basic materials sector and energy industry. Shares are up 0.6% year to date as of the close of trading on Friday.

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

Rating Change #8

Progressive Waste Solutions Ltd ( BIN) has been downgraded by TheStreet Ratings from hold to sell. The company's weaknesses can be seen in multiple areas, such as its feeble growth in its earnings per share, deteriorating net income, generally weak debt management, disappointing return on equity and weak operating cash flow.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • PROGRESSIVE WASTE SOLUTIONS has exprienced a steep decline in earnings per share in the most recent quarter in comparison to its performance from the same quarter a year ago. The company has reported a trend of declining earnings per share over the past two years. During the past fiscal year, PROGRESSIVE WASTE SOLUTIONS swung to a loss, reporting -$1.66 versus $0.76 in the prior year.
  • 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 Commercial Services & Supplies industry. The net income has significantly decreased by 1588.0% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, falling from $19.91 million to -$296.19 million.
  • The debt-to-equity ratio of 1.02 is relatively high when compared with the industry average, suggesting a need for better debt level management. Along with the unfavorable debt-to-equity ratio, BIN maintains a poor quick ratio of 0.76, which illustrates the inability to avoid short-term cash problems.
  • Return on equity has greatly decreased when compared to its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a signal of major weakness within the corporation. Compared to other companies in the Commercial Services & Supplies industry and the overall market, PROGRESSIVE WASTE SOLUTIONS's return on equity significantly trails that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • Net operating cash flow has declined marginally to $115.22 million or 4.51% when compared to the same quarter last year. In conjunction, when comparing current results to the industry average, PROGRESSIVE WASTE SOLUTIONS has marginally lower results.
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Progressive Waste Solutions Ltd. operates as a vertically integrated waste management company in North America. The company provides non-hazardous solid waste collection and landfill disposal services to commercial, industrial, municipal, and residential customers. The company has a P/E ratio of 19.4, below the average materials & construction industry P/E ratio of 22.1 and above the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Progressive Waste has a market cap of $2.6 billion and is part of the industrial goods sector and materials & construction industry. Shares are up 4.5% year to date as of the close of trading on Thursday.

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

Rating Change #7

KeyCorp ( KEY) has been downgraded by TheStreet Ratings from buy to hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its expanding profit margins and notable return on equity. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including weak operating cash flow, unimpressive growth in net income and a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • The gross profit margin for KEYCORP is currently very high, coming in at 89.30%. Regardless of KEY's high profit margin, it has managed to decrease from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, KEY's net profit margin of 18.00% compares favorably to the industry average.
  • KEY, with its decline in revenue, underperformed when compared the industry average of 2.1%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues fell by 16.8%. Weakness in the company's revenue seems to have hurt the bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.
  • The return on equity has improved slightly when compared to the same quarter one year prior. This can be construed as a modest strength in the organization. When compared to other companies in the Commercial Banks industry and the overall market, KEYCORP's return on equity is below that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • The share price of KEYCORP has not done very well: it is down 11.38% and has underperformed the S&P 500, in part reflecting the company's sharply declining earnings per share when compared to the year-earlier quarter. Turning toward the future, the fact that the stock has come down in price over the past year should not necessarily be interpreted as a negative; it could be one of the factors that may help make the stock attractive down the road. Right now, however, we believe that it is too soon to buy.
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly decreased to $15.00 million or 98.01% when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, when comparing to the industry average, the firm's growth rate is much lower.
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KeyCorp operates as a holding company for KeyBank National Association that provides various banking services in the United States. The company has a P/E ratio of nine, above the average banking industry P/E ratio of 8.3 and below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. KeyCorp has a market cap of $7.75 billion and is part of the financial sector and banking industry. Shares are up 5.3% year to date as of the close of trading on Thursday.

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

Rating Change #6

Kroger Co ( KR) 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 and solid stock price performance. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including deteriorating net income, generally poor debt management and poor profit margins.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • KR's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 5.2%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 7.6%. 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.
  • 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. We feel that the combination of its price rise over the last year and its current price-to-earnings ratio relative to its industry tend to reduce its upside potential.
  • KROGER CO has exprienced a steep decline in earnings per share in the most recent quarter in comparison to its performance from the same quarter a year ago. The company has reported a trend of declining earnings per share over the past year. However, the consensus estimate suggests that this trend should reverse in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, KROGER CO reported lower earnings of $0.95 versus $1.75 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($2.25 versus $0.95).
  • 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 Food & Staples Retailing industry. The net income has significantly decreased by 210.4% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, falling from $278.00 million to -$307.00 million.
  • The debt-to-equity ratio is very high at 2.06 and currently higher than the industry average, implying that there is very poor management of debt levels within the company. Along with this, the company manages to maintain a quick ratio of 0.21, which clearly demonstrates the inability to cover short-term cash needs.
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The Kroger Co., together with its subsidiaries, operates as a retailer in the United States. The company also manufactures and processes food for sale in its supermarkets. It operates supermarkets in various formats. It operates supermarkets in various formats. The company has a P/E ratio of 12.3, below the average retail industry P/E ratio of 12.6 and below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Kroger has a market cap of $13.99 billion and is part of the services sector and retail industry. Shares are up 0.9% year to date as of the close of trading on Friday.

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

Rating Change #5

Sony Corporation ( SNE) has been upgraded by TheStreet Ratings from sell to hold. Among the primary strengths of the company is its solid financial position based on a variety of debt and liquidity measures that we have evaluated. At the same time, however, we also find weaknesses including deteriorating net income, disappointing return on equity and poor profit margins.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • The current debt-to-equity ratio, 0.49, is low and is below the industry average, implying that there has been successful management of debt levels. Despite the fact that SNE's debt-to-equity ratio is low, the quick ratio, which is currently 0.57, displays a potential problem in covering short-term cash needs.
  • Despite the weak revenue results, SNE has outperformed against the industry average of 42.9%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues fell by 15.1%. Weakness in the company's revenue seems to have hurt the bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.
  • SONY CORP has exprienced a steep decline in earnings per share in the most recent quarter in comparison to its performance from the same quarter a year ago. The company has reported a trend of declining earnings per share over the past two years. However, the consensus estimate suggests that this trend should reverse in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, SONY CORP reported poor results of -$3.14 versus -$0.43 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings (-$2.55 versus -$3.14).
  • The gross profit margin for SONY CORP is currently extremely low, coming in at 3.90%. It has decreased from the same quarter the previous year.
  • 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 Household Durables industry. The net income has significantly decreased by 329.2% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, falling from $901.20 million to -$2,065.49 million.
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Sony Corporation designs, develops, manufactures, and sells electronic equipment, instruments, and devices for consumer, professional, and industrial markets worldwide. The company has a P/E ratio of 6.2, below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Sony Corporation ADR has a market cap of $18.01 billion and is part of the consumer goods sector and consumer durables industry. Shares are up 23.4% year to date as of the close of trading on Wednesday.

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

Rating Change #4

General Motors Co ( GM) has been upgraded by TheStreet Ratings from sell 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 notable return on equity. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including feeble growth in the company's earnings per share, unimpressive growth in net income and poor profit margins.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • Despite its growing revenue, the company underperformed as compared with the industry average of 6.2%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 3.0%. 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.
  • The current debt-to-equity ratio, 0.35, is low and is below the industry average, implying that there has been successful management of debt levels.
  • 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 Automobiles industry. The net income has significantly decreased by 48.4% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, falling from $1,406.00 million to $725.00 million.
  • The gross profit margin for GENERAL MOTORS CO is currently extremely low, coming in at 14.40%. It has decreased from the same quarter the previous year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 1.90% trails that of the industry average.
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General Motors Company (GM) operates as a global automaker. It produces cars and trucks and sells them under the brand names Baojun, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Daewoo, Holden, Opel, Isuzu, Vauxhall, Jiefang, FAW, and Wuling. The company has a P/E ratio of 37.8, above the average automotive industry P/E ratio of 4.9 and above the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. General has a market cap of $38.79 billion and is part of the consumer goods sector and automotive industry. Shares are up 30.5% year to date as of the close of trading on Tuesday.

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

Rating Change #3

American International Group Inc ( AIG) has been upgraded by TheStreet Ratings from sell to hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its compelling growth in net income, attractive valuation levels and notable return on equity. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including feeble growth in the company's earnings per share, weak operating cash flow and a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Insurance industry. The net income increased by 77.1% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $11,176.00 million to $19,798.00 million.
  • The return on equity has improved slightly when compared to the same quarter one year prior. This can be construed as a modest strength in the organization. Compared to other companies in the Insurance industry and the overall market on the basis of return on equity, AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL GROUP has outperformed in comparison with the industry average, but has underperformed when compared to that of the S&P 500.
  • AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL GROUP's earnings per share declined by 22.4% 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, AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL GROUP reported lower earnings of $7.93 versus $14.47 in the prior year. For the next year, the market is expecting a contraction of 68.5% in earnings ($2.50 versus $7.93).
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly decreased to $1,118.00 million or 63.15% when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, when comparing to the industry average, the firm's growth rate is much lower.
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American International Group, Inc. is an international insurance organization. The company operates property and casualty insurance networks worldwide and conducts activities in the U.S. life insurance and retirement services industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 3.3, above the average insurance industry P/E ratio of 1.7 and below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. American International Group has a market cap of $48.09 billion and is part of the financial sector and insurance industry. Shares are up 23.5% year to date as of the close of trading on Tuesday.

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

Rating Change #2

Goldman Sachs Group Inc ( GS) has been upgraded by TheStreet Ratings from hold to buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its good cash flow from operations and expanding profit margins. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had lackluster performance in the stock itself.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly increased by 307.01% to $19,215.00 million when compared to the same quarter last year. Despite an increase in cash flow of 307.01%, GOLDMAN SACHS GROUP INC is still growing at a significantly lower rate than the industry average of 391.70%.
  • 45.60% is the gross profit margin for GOLDMAN SACHS GROUP INC which we consider to be strong. Despite the high profit margin, it has decreased significantly from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, GS's net profit margin of 12.60% compares favorably to the industry average.
  • Despite the weak revenue results, GS has outperformed against the industry average of 43.4%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues fell by 22.7%. Weakness in the company's revenue seems to have hurt the bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.
  • GOLDMAN SACHS GROUP INC has exprienced a steep decline in earnings per share in the most recent quarter in comparison to its performance from 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, GOLDMAN SACHS GROUP INC reported lower earnings of $4.41 versus $13.14 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($11.35 versus $4.41).
  • The change in net income from the same quarter one year ago has exceeded that of the Capital Markets industry average, but is less than that of the S&P 500. The net income has significantly decreased by 57.6% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, falling from $2,387.00 million to $1,013.00 million.
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The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., together with its subsidiaries, provides investment banking, securities, and investment management services to corporations, financial institutions, governments, and high-net-worth individuals worldwide. The company has a P/E ratio of 26, above the average financial services industry P/E ratio of 24.1 and above the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Goldman Sachs Group has a market cap of $53.6 billion and is part of the financial sector and financial services industry. Shares are up 27.3% year to date as of the close of trading on Thursday.

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

Rating Change #1

Bank Of America Corporation ( BAC) has been upgraded by TheStreet Ratings from sell to hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, impressive record of earnings per share growth and compelling growth in net income. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including generally poor debt management and a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • The revenue growth greatly exceeded the industry average of 19.9%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 10.4%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • BANK OF AMERICA 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. This trend suggests that the performance of the business is improving. During the past fiscal year, BANK OF AMERICA CORP continued to lose money by earning -$0.02 versus -$0.38 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($0.65 versus -$0.02).
  • The gross profit margin for BANK OF AMERICA CORP is currently very high, coming in at 75.50%. It has increased significantly from the same period last year. Regardless of the strong results of the gross profit margin, the net profit margin of 6.40% trails the industry average.
  • BAC'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 43.39%, 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 2.71 and currently higher than the industry average, implying that there is very poor management of debt levels within the company.
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Bank of America Corporation, through its subsidiaries, provides banking and financial services to individuals, small- and middle-market businesses, corporations, and governments primarily in the United States and internationally. The company has a P/E ratio of 24.6, below the average banking industry P/E ratio of 729 and above the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Bank of America has a market cap of $73.89 billion and is part of the financial sector and banking industry. Shares are up 44.6% year to date as of the close of trading on Tuesday.

You can view the full Bank of America 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.