5 Tech Stocks to Buy for 2013: Astro-Med

Editor's Note: TheStreet ratings do not represent the views of TheStreet's staff or its contributors. Ratings are established by computer based on metrics for performance (which includes growth, stock performance, efficiency and valuation) and risk (volatility and solvency). Companies with poor cash flow or high debt levels tend to earn lower ratings in our model.

NEW YORK ( TheStreet Ratings) -- TheStreet Ratings' stock model projects a stock's total return potential over a 12-month period including both price appreciation and dividends. Our Buy, Hold or Sell ratings designate how we expect these stocks to perform against a general benchmark of the equities market and interest rates.

TheStreet Ratings model gauges the relationship between risk and reward in several ways, including: the pricing drawdown as compared to potential profit volatility, i.e. how much one is willing to risk in order to earn profits?; the level of acceptable volatility for highly performing stocks; the current valuation as compared to projected earnings growth; and the financial strength of the underlying company as compared to its stock's valuation as compared to its stock's performance.

These and many more derived observations are then combined, ranked, weighted, and scenario-tested to create a more complete analysis. The result is a systematic and disciplined method of selecting stocks. As always, stock ratings should not be treated as gospel -- rather, use them as a starting point for your own research.

The following pages contain our analysis of 5 out of 50 stocks TheStreet Ratings has identified as being rated a "Buy" heading into the New Year. To view a list of all 50 stocks simply download our FREE report by clicking: HERE

MAXIMUS, Inc (NYSE: MMS) is rated at BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. 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, good cash flow from operations and solid stock price performance. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub-par growth in net income.

To view a list of all 50 stocks simply download our FREE report by clicking: HERE

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • MAXIMUS INC's earnings per share declined by 6.8% 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 year. However, we anticipate this trend reversing over the coming year. During the past fiscal year, MAXIMUS INC reported lower earnings of $2.19 versus $2.32 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($2.99 versus $2.19).
  • Compared to its closing price of one year ago, MMS's share price has jumped by 50.63%, 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.
  • Net operating cash flow has slightly increased to $30.10 million or 9.60% when compared to the same quarter last year. The firm also exceeded the industry average cash flow growth rate of -5.61%.
  • MMS's debt-to-equity ratio is very low at 0.00 and is currently below that of the industry average, implying that there has been very successful management of debt levels. To add to this, MMS has a quick ratio of 1.93, which demonstrates the ability of the company to cover short-term liquidity needs.

MAXIMUS, Inc. provides business process services to government health and human services agencies in the United States, Australia, Canada, Saudi Arabia, and the United Kingdom.

You can view the full MAXIMUS INC's Ratings Report or get investment ideas from our investment research center.

Jack Henry Associates (NASDAQ: JKHY) is rated at BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. 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, solid stock price performance, growth in earnings per share and increase in net income. Although the company may harbor some minor weaknesses, we feel they are unlikely to have a significant impact on results.

To view a list of all 50 stocks simply download our FREE report by clicking: HERE

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • The company, on the basis of net income growth from the same quarter one year ago, has significantly outperformed against the S&P 500 and exceeded that of the IT Services industry average. The net income increased by 16.4% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, going from $36.48 million to $42.48 million.
  • Jack Henry has improved earnings per share by 16.7% 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, the company increased its bottom line by earning $1.78 versus $1.59 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($1.98 versus $1.78).
  • The stock has risen over the past year as investors have generally rewarded the company for its earnings growth and other positive factors like the ones we have cited in this report. Looking ahead, unless broad bear market conditions prevail, we still see more upside potential for this stock, despite the fact that it has already risen over the past year.
  • JKHY's debt-to-equity ratio is very low at 0.13 and is currently below that of the industry average, implying that there has been very successful management of debt levels. Along with the favorable debt-to-equity ratio, the company maintains an adequate quick ratio of 1.02, which illustrates the ability to avoid short-term cash problems.

Jack Henry Associates, Inc. provides technology solutions and payment processing services primarily for financial services organizations in the United States.

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

Cass Information Systems Inc (NASDAQ: CASS) is rated at BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its solid stock price performance, increase in net income, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and reasonable valuation levels. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had somewhat disappointing return on equity.

To view a list of all 50 stocks simply download our FREE report by clicking: HERE

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • CASS INFORMATION SYSTEMS INC reported flat earnings per share in the most recent quarter. This company has not demonstrated a clear trend in earnings over the past 2 years, making it difficult to accurately predict earnings for the coming year. During the past fiscal year, CASS INFORMATION SYSTEMS INC increased its bottom line by earning $2.01 versus $1.78 in the prior year.
  • Regardless of the drop in revenue, the company managed to outperform against the industry average of 10.7%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly dropped by 0.8%. The declining revenue appears to have seeped down to the company's bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.
  • CASS 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.
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the IT Services industry average. The net income increased by 0.5% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, going from $6.06 million to $6.09 million.

Cass Information Systems, Inc. provides payment and information processing services to manufacturing, distribution, and retail enterprises in the United States. The company provides transportation invoice rating, payment, audit, accounting, and transportation information services.

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

Astro-Med (NASDAQ: ALOT) is rated at BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its impressive record of earnings per share growth, compelling growth in net income, revenue growth, expanding profit margins and solid stock price performance. Although the company may harbor some minor weaknesses, we feel they are unlikely to have a significant impact on results.

To view a list of all 50 stocks simply download our FREE report by clicking: HERE

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • Compared to where it was a year ago today, the stock is now trading at a higher level, reflecting both the market's overall trend during that period and the fact that the company's earnings growth has been robust. Looking ahead, the stock's 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 the other strengths this company displays justify these higher price levels.
  • 43.00% is the gross profit margin for ASTRO-MED INC which we consider to be strong. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Despite the strong results of the gross profit margin, ALOT's net profit margin of 6.35% significantly trails the industry average.
  • ALOT's revenue growth trails the industry average of 27.6%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 5.1%. This growth in revenue appears to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, improving the earnings per share.
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Computers & Peripherals industry. The net income increased by 63.4% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $0.80 million to $1.31 million.

Astro-Med, Inc. designs, develops, manufactures, and distributes various specialty printers, and data acquisition and analysis systems primarily in the United States. It operates in three segments: Test & Measurement (T&M), QuickLabel Systems (QuickLabel), and Grass Technologies (Grass).

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

Mesa Laboratories (NASDAQ: MLAB) is rated at BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. 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, solid stock price performance, growth in earnings per share and increase in net income. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows weak operating cash flow.

To view a list of all 50 stocks simply download our FREE report by clicking: HERE

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Electronic Equipment, Instruments & Components industry average. The net income increased by 9.5% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, going from $2.05 million to $2.25 million.
  • MESA LABORATORIES INC has improved earnings per share by 8.5% 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, MESA LABORATORIES INC increased its bottom line by earning $2.27 versus $1.84 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($2.66 versus $2.27).
  • The stock has risen over the past year as investors have generally rewarded the company for its earnings growth and other positive factors like the ones we have cited in this report. Looking ahead, unless broad bear market conditions prevail, we still see more upside potential for this stock, despite the fact that it has already risen over the past year.
  • MLAB's debt-to-equity ratio is very low at 0.17 and is currently below that of the industry average, implying that there has been very successful management of debt levels. Along with this, the company maintains a quick ratio of 3.01, which clearly demonstrates the ability to cover short-term cash needs.

Mesa Laboratories, Inc. designs, manufactures, and markets instruments and disposable products utilized primarily in healthcare, pharmaceutical, food and beverage, medical device, and petrochemical industries.

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

This is just a list of 5 of 50 stocks! Download a list of all 50 of TheStreet Ratings Tech Picks for 2013 NOW!

Editor's Note: TheStreet ratings do not represent the views of TheStreet's staff or its contributors. Ratings are established by computer based on metrics for performance (which includes growth, stock performance, efficiency and valuation) and risk (volatility and solvency). Companies with poor cash flow or high debt levels tend to earn lower ratings in our model.
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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