3 Stocks Reiterated As A Buy: MA, AXP, MO

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) -- TheStreet Ratings team reiterated 3 stocks with a buy rating on Monday based on 32 different data factors including general market action, fundamental analysis and technical indicators. The in-depth analysis of these ratings decisions goes as follows:

MasterCard Inc:

MasterCard (NYSE: MA) has been reiterated by TheStreet Ratings as a buy with a ratings score of A-. According to TheStreet Ratings team: 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, impressive record of earnings per share growth, increase in net income and expanding profit margins. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company is trading at a premium valuation based on our review of its current price compared to such things as earnings and book value.

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Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • The revenue growth greatly exceeded the industry average of 16.6%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 14.2%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • MA's debt-to-equity ratio is very low at 0.23 and is currently below that of the industry average, implying that there has been very successful management of debt levels. To add to this, MA has a quick ratio of 1.60, which demonstrates the ability of the company to cover short-term liquidity needs.
  • MASTERCARD INC has improved earnings per share by 17.2% 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, MASTERCARD INC increased its bottom line by earning $2.57 versus $2.19 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($3.01 versus $2.57).
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the IT Services industry average, but is less than that of the S&P 500. The net income increased by 13.6% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, going from $766.00 million to $870.00 million.
  • The gross profit margin for MASTERCARD INC is rather high; currently it is at 62.38%. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 39.96% significantly outperformed against the industry average.

MasterCard Incorporated provides transaction processing and other payment-related services in the United States and internationally. It facilitates the processing of payment transactions, including authorization, clearing, and settlement, as well as delivers related products and services. MasterCard has a market cap of $83.5 billion and is part of the financial sector and financial services industry. Shares are down 11.7% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Friday.

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American Express Co:

American Express (NYSE: AXP) has been reiterated by TheStreet Ratings as a buy with a ratings score of A. According to TheStreet Ratings team: The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, notable return on equity, impressive record of earnings per share growth, increase in net income and solid stock price performance. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had generally high debt management risk by most measures that we evaluated.

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Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • AXP's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 1.3%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 2.8%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • AMERICAN EXPRESS CO has improved earnings per share by 15.7% 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, AMERICAN EXPRESS CO increased its bottom line by earning $4.88 versus $3.87 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($5.48 versus $4.88).
  • 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 Consumer Finance industry and the overall market, AMERICAN EXPRESS CO's return on equity exceeds that of the industry average and significantly exceeds that of the S&P 500.
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has exceeded that of the Consumer Finance industry average, but is less than that of the S&P 500. The net income increased by 11.9% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, going from $1,280.00 million to $1,432.00 million.
  • 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 28.07% over the past year, a rise that has exceeded that of the S&P 500 Index. 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.

American Express Company, together with its subsidiaries, provides charge and credit payment card products and travel-related services to consumers and businesses worldwide. The company operates through four segments: U.S. American Express has a market cap of $100.6 billion and is part of the financial sector and financial services industry. Shares are up 5.3% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Friday.

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Altria Group Inc:

Altria Group (NYSE: MO) has been reiterated by TheStreet Ratings as a buy with a ratings score of B+. According to TheStreet Ratings team: The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, good cash flow from operations, expanding profit margins, solid stock price performance and notable return on equity. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income.

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Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • Despite its growing revenue, the company underperformed as compared with the industry average of 3.0%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 0.9%. 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.
  • Net operating cash flow has increased to $2,125.00 million or 18.51% when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, ALTRIA GROUP INC has also vastly surpassed the industry average cash flow growth rate of -31.67%.
  • ALTRIA GROUP INC's earnings per share declined by 14.5% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. This company has reported somewhat volatile earnings recently. But, we feel it is poised for EPS growth in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, ALTRIA GROUP INC increased its bottom line by earning $2.26 versus $2.06 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($2.57 versus $2.26).
  • The gross profit margin for ALTRIA GROUP INC is rather high; currently it is at 57.41%. Despite the high profit margin, it has decreased significantly from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, MO's net profit margin of 29.31% compares favorably to 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. 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.

Altria Group, Inc., through its subsidiaries, manufactures and sells cigarettes, smokeless products, and wine in the United States and internationally. Altria Group has a market cap of $85.6 billion and is part of the consumer goods sector and tobacco industry. Shares are up 12.3% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Friday.

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