3 Stocks Reiterated As A Buy: MA, MSFT, MRK

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 Tuesday 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, growth in earnings per share, expanding profit margins and solid stock price performance. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows weak operating cash flow.

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Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • The revenue growth came in higher than the industry average of 12.2%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 13.4%. 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 0.24 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 1.51, which demonstrates the ability of the company to cover short-term liquidity needs.
  • MASTERCARD INC has improved earnings per share by 14.9% 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 ($3.00 versus $2.57).
  • The gross profit margin for MASTERCARD INC is rather high; currently it is at 61.59%. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 39.16% significantly outperformed against the industry average.
  • 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, 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.

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 $84.5 billion and is part of the financial sector and financial services industry. Shares are down 9.3% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Friday.

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Microsoft Corp:

Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) 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, solid stock price performance, reasonable valuation levels and good cash flow from operations. 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:
  • MSFT's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 11.5%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 15.6%. 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.
  • MSFT's debt-to-equity ratio is very low at 0.25 and is currently below that of the industry average, implying that there has been very successful management of debt levels. To add to this, MSFT has a quick ratio of 2.31, which demonstrates the ability of the company to cover short-term liquidity needs.
  • Compared to its closing price of one year ago, MSFT's share price has jumped by 35.91%, 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, MSFT should continue to move higher despite the fact that it has already enjoyed a very nice gain in the past year.
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly increased by 61.17% to $9,514.00 million when compared to the same quarter last year. The firm also exceeded the industry average cash flow growth rate of 41.51%.

Microsoft Corporation develops, licenses, markets, and supports software, services, and devices worldwide. The company's Devices and Consumer (D&C) Licensing segment licenses Windows operating system and related software; Microsoft Office for consumers; and Windows Phone operating system. Microsoft has a market cap of $374.3 billion and is part of the technology sector and computer software & services industry. Shares are up 21.4% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Friday.

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Merck & Co Inc:

Merck (NYSE: MRK) 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 solid stock price performance, increase in net income, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, reasonable valuation levels and growth in earnings per share. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows weak operating cash flow.

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Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • Powered by its strong earnings growth of 126.66% and other important driving factors, this stock has surged by 27.41% over the past year, outperforming the rise in the S&P 500 Index during the same period. Turning to the future, naturally, any stock can fall in a major bear market. However, in almost any other environment, the stock should continue to move higher despite the fact that it has already enjoyed nice gains in the past year.
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Pharmaceuticals industry. The net income increased by 121.2% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $906.00 million to $2,004.00 million.
  • The current debt-to-equity ratio, 0.48, is low and is below the industry average, implying that there has been successful management of debt levels. Along with the favorable debt-to-equity ratio, the company maintains an adequate quick ratio of 1.14, which illustrates the ability to avoid short-term cash problems.
  • MERCK & CO reported significant earnings per share improvement 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, MERCK & CO reported lower earnings of $1.46 versus $2.00 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($3.50 versus $1.46).

Merck & Co., Inc. provides various health solutions through its prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies, animal health, and consumer care products worldwide. Merck has a market cap of $173.4 billion and is part of the health care sector and drugs industry. Shares are up 20.1% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Friday.

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