Editor's Note: Any reference to TheStreet Ratings and its underlying recommendation does not reflect the opinion of TheStreet, Inc. or any of its contributors including Jim Cramer or Stephanie Link.

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Northwest Pipe (Nasdaq: NWPX) has been upgraded by TheStreet Ratings from hold to buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its 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.

  • EXCLUSIVE OFFER: Jim Cramer's Protégé, Dave Peltier, only buys Stocks Under $10 that he thinks could potentially double. See what he's trading today with a 14-day FREE pass.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • Compared to its closing price of one year ago, NWPX's share price has jumped by 28.18%, exceeding the performance of the broader market during that same time frame. Regarding the stock's future course, although almost any stock can fall in a broad market decline, NWPX should continue to move higher despite the fact that it has already enjoyed a very nice gain in the past year.
  • NWPX's debt-to-equity ratio is very low at 0.12 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 1.03, which illustrates the ability to avoid short-term cash problems.
  • NORTHWEST PIPE CO has experienced 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, NORTHWEST PIPE CO reported lower earnings of $0.06 versus $1.72 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($1.76 versus $0.06).
  • NWPX, with its decline in revenue, underperformed when compared the industry average of 12.1%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues fell by 23.0%. 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 Construction & Engineering industry. The net income has significantly decreased by 204.0% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, falling from $9.51 million to -$9.89 million.

Northwest Pipe Company manufactures and markets welded steel pipe and tube products in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Northwest Pipe has a market cap of $339.5 million and is part of the basic materials sector and metals & mining industry. Shares are down 5.5% year to date as of the close of trading on Wednesday.

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

3x UPSIDE POTENTIAL: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12-months. Learn more.

Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.