NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- What do Kohl's (KSS - Get Report), First Solar (FSLR) and Kraft Foods (KRFT) have in common?

They are all among the top-ten performing stocks in 2015, handily outperforming the rest of the S&P 500, which moved just 0.44% higher for the first three months of the year as a result of a volatile first quarter.

Despite the volatility, these 10 stocks had big wins in the first quarter, and it wasn't sector specific. We took a closer look at each of these tickers with TheStreet Ratings to let you know if they're still a good buy after a great first-quarter run.

TheStreet Ratings, TheStreet's proprietary ratings tool, projects a stock's total return potential over a 12-month period including both price appreciation and dividends. Based on 32 major data points, TheStreet Ratings uses a quantitative approach to rating over 4,300 stocks to predict return potential for the next year. The model is both objective, using elements such as volatility of past operating revenues, financial strength, and company cash flows, and subjective, including expected equities market returns, future interest rates, implied industry outlook and forecasted company earnings.

Buying an S&P 500 stock that TheStreet Ratings rated a "buy" yielded a 16.56% return in 2014 beating the S&P 500 Total Return Index by 304 basis points. Buying a Russell 2000 stock that TheStreet Ratings rated a "buy" yielded a 9.5% return in 2014, beating the Russell 2000 index, including dividends reinvested, by 460 basis points last year.

Check out which stocks were among the best performers in the S&P 500 to date, counting down from 10 to one. And when you're done with that be sure to find out which company had the worst performance in the S&P 500 for the first quarter.


KSS Chart KSS data by YCharts

10. Kohl's Corp. (KSS - Get Report)
Market Cap: $15.9 billion
Year-to-date return: 28.19%
TheStreet Ratings: Buy, A

Kohl's Corporation operates department stores in the United States. It offers private label, exclusive, and national brand apparel, footwear, accessories, beauty, and home products to children, men, and women customers.

"We rate KOHL'S CORP (KSS) a 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, attractive valuation levels, good cash flow from operations, solid stock price performance and growth in earnings per share. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had somewhat disappointing return on equity."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • KSS's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 2.3%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 3.9%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • 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 35.48% over the past year, a rise that has exceeded that of the S&P 500 Index. Regarding the stock's future course, although almost any stock can fall in a broad market decline, KSS should continue to move higher despite the fact that it has already enjoyed a very nice gain in the past year.
  • KOHL'S CORP has improved earnings per share by 17.3% 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, KOHL'S CORP increased its bottom line by earning $4.26 versus $4.07 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($4.55 versus $4.26).
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the Multiline Retail industry average, but is less than that of the S&P 500. The net income increased by 10.5% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, going from $334.00 million to $369.00 million.

 

 

VMC Chart VMC data by YCharts

9. Vulcan Materials Co. (VMC - Get Report)
Market Cap: $11.1 billion
Year-to-date return: 28.25%
TheStreet Ratings: Buy, B

Vulcan Materials Company produces and sells construction aggregates, asphalt mix, and ready-mixed concrete primarily in the United States. It operates through four segments: Aggregates, Asphalt Mix, Concrete, and Calcium.

"We rate VULCAN MATERIALS CO (VMC) a BUY. This is driven by multiple strengths, which we believe should have a greater impact than any weaknesses, and should give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks we cover. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, impressive record of earnings per share growth, notable return on equity, good cash flow from operations and solid stock price performance. 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."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • The revenue growth greatly exceeded the industry average of 20.7%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 11.0%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • VULCAN MATERIALS CO 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. During the past fiscal year, VULCAN MATERIALS CO increased its bottom line by earning $1.56 versus $0.16 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($2.02 versus $1.56).
  • 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 Construction Materials industry and the overall market on the basis of return on equity, VULCAN MATERIALS CO has outperformed in comparison with the industry average, but has underperformed when compared to that of the S&P 500.
  • Powered by its strong earnings growth of 262.50% and other important driving factors, this stock has surged by 30.02% over the past year, outperforming the rise in the S&P 500 Index during the same period. 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.
  • Net operating cash flow has increased to $110.61 million or 14.63% when compared to the same quarter last year. Despite an increase in cash flow, VULCAN MATERIALS CO's average is still marginally south of the industry average growth rate of 22.57%.

 

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8. Valero Energy Corp. (VLO - Get Report)
Market Cap: $32.8 billion
Year-to-date return: 28.53%
TheStreet Ratings: Buy, A-

Valero Energy Corporation operates as an independent petroleum refining and marketing company in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, and Ireland. It operates through two segments, Refining and Ethanol.

"We rate VALERO ENERGY CORP (VLO) a 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 attractive valuation levels, solid stock price performance, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and notable return on equity. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows weak operating cash flow."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • The current debt-to-equity ratio, 0.31, is low and is below the industry average, implying that there has been successful management of debt levels. Although the company had a strong debt-to-equity ratio, its quick ratio of 0.97 is somewhat weak and could be cause for future problems.
  • 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 Oil, Gas & Consumable Fuels industry and the overall market on the basis of return on equity, VALERO ENERGY CORP has underperformed in comparison with the industry average, but has exceeded that of the S&P 500.
  • 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. Turning our attention to the future direction of the stock, it goes without saying that even the best stocks can fall in an overall down market. However, in any other environment, this stock still has good upside potential despite the fact that it has already risen in the past year.
  • Regardless of the drop in revenue, the company managed to outperform against the industry average of 19.9%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues fell by 19.1%. Weakness in the company's revenue seems to have hurt the bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.

 

 

NFX Chart NFX data by YCharts

7. Newfield Exploration Co. (NFX)
Market Cap: $4.8 billion
Year-to-date return: 29.39%
TheStreet Ratings: Hold, C+

Newfield Exploration Company, an independent energy company, engages in the exploration, development, and production of crude oil, natural gas, and natural gas liquids.

"We rate NEWFIELD EXPLORATION CO (NFX) a HOLD. The primary factors that have impacted our rating are mixed - some indicating strength, some showing weaknesses, with little evidence to justify the expectation of either a positive or negative performance for this stock relative to most other stocks. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its solid stock price performance, compelling growth in net income and attractive valuation levels. However, as a counter to these strengths, we find that we feel that the company's cash flow from its operations has been weak overall."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • 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, our view is that this company's fundamentals will not have much impact in either direction, allowing the stock to generally move up or down based on the push and pull of the broad market.
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Oil, Gas & Consumable Fuels industry. The net income increased by 2017.6% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $17.00 million to $360.00 million.
  • The debt-to-equity ratio is somewhat low, currently at 0.74, and is less than that of the industry average, implying that there has been a relatively successful effort in the management of debt levels. Even though the company has a strong debt-to-equity ratio, the quick ratio of 0.38 is very weak and demonstrates a lack of ability to pay short-term obligations.
  • NEWFIELD EXPLORATION CO 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. However, we anticipate underperformance relative to this pattern in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, NEWFIELD EXPLORATION CO increased its bottom line by earning $4.71 versus $0.79 in the prior year. For the next year, the market is expecting a contraction of 82.6% in earnings ($0.82 versus $4.71).
  • Net operating cash flow has declined marginally to $317.00 million or 9.42% when compared to the same quarter last year. Despite a decrease in cash flow of 9.42%, NEWFIELD EXPLORATION CO is in line with the industry average cash flow growth rate of -13.05%.

URBN Chart URBN data by YCharts

6. Urban Outfitters (URBN - Get Report)
Market Cap: $5.9 billion
Year-to-date return: 29.95%
TheStreet Ratings: Buy, A-

Urban Outfitters, Inc., a lifestyle specialty retail company, is engaged in the retail and wholesale of general consumer products. The company operates in two segments, Retail and Wholesale.

"We rate URBAN OUTFITTERS INC (URBN) a 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, revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, notable return on equity and growth in earnings per share. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • Despite its growing revenue, the company underperformed as compared with the industry average of 13.1%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 11.6%. This growth in revenue appears to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, improving the earnings per share.
  • 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 26.41% over the past year, a rise that has exceeded that of the S&P 500 Index. Regarding the stock's future course, although almost any stock can fall in a broad market decline, URBN should continue to move higher despite the fact that it has already enjoyed a very nice gain in the past year.
  • URBN 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. Although the company had a strong debt-to-equity ratio, its quick ratio of 0.93 is somewhat weak and could be cause for future problems.
  • 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 Specialty Retail industry and the overall market on the basis of return on equity, URBAN OUTFITTERS INC has underperformed in comparison with the industry average, but has exceeded that of the S&P 500.
  • URBAN OUTFITTERS INC's earnings per share improvement from the most recent quarter was slightly positive. 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, URBAN OUTFITTERS INC reported lower earnings of $1.70 versus $1.89 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($2.02 versus $1.70).
BSX Chart BSX data by YCharts

5. Boston Scientific Corp. (BSX - Get Report)
Market Cap: $23.5 billion
Year-to-date return: 33.96%
TheStreet Ratings: Buy, B-

Boston Scientific Corporation develops, manufactures, and markets medical devices for use in various interventional medical specialties worldwide. The company operates in three segments: Cardiovascular, Rhythm Management, and MedSurg.

"We rate BOSTON SCIENTIFIC CORP (BSX) a BUY. This is driven by several positive factors, which we believe should have a greater impact than any weaknesses, and should give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks we cover. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, solid stock price performance, good cash flow from operations, expanding profit margins 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."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • BSX's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 1.0%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 2.7%. 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 its closing price of one year ago, BSX's share price has jumped by 31.82%, 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, BSX 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 $440.00 million when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, BOSTON SCIENTIFIC CORP has also vastly surpassed the industry average cash flow growth rate of -7.23%.
  • The gross profit margin for BOSTON SCIENTIFIC CORP is currently very high, coming in at 74.40%. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Regardless of the strong results of the gross profit margin, the net profit margin of -15.84% is in-line with the industry average.
  • The debt-to-equity ratio is somewhat low, currently at 0.66, and is less than that of the industry average, implying that there has been a relatively successful effort in the management of debt levels. Despite the fact that BSX's debt-to-equity ratio is low, the quick ratio, which is currently 0.62, displays a potential problem in covering short-term cash needs.

 

FSLR Chart FSLR data by YCharts

4. First Solar Inc. (FSLR)
Market Cap: $5.9 billion
Year-to-date return: 34.07%
TheStreet Ratings: Buy, B-

First Solar, Inc. provides solar energy solutions worldwide. The company operates through two segments, Components and Systems. The Components segment designs, manufactures, and sells solar modules that convert sunlight into electricity.

"We rate FIRST SOLAR INC (FSLR) a BUY. This is driven by some important positives, which we believe should have a greater impact than any weaknesses, and should give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks we cover. 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, increase in net income, attractive valuation levels and good cash flow from operations. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had lackluster performance in the stock itself."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • The revenue growth came in higher than the industry average of 10.6%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 31.2%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • FSLR's debt-to-equity ratio is very low at 0.04 and is currently below that of the industry average, implying that there has been very successful management of debt levels. To add to this, FSLR has a quick ratio of 2.29, which demonstrates the ability of the company to cover short-term liquidity needs.
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Semiconductors & Semiconductor Equipment industry. The net income increased by 194.1% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $65.26 million to $191.96 million.
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly increased by 382.81% to $928.00 million when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, FIRST SOLAR INC has also vastly surpassed the industry average cash flow growth rate of -16.21%.

 

SWKS Chart SWKS data by YCharts

3. Skyworks Solutions Inc. (SWKS - Get Report)
Market Cap: $18.2 billion
Year-to-date return: 35.18%
TheStreet Ratings: Buy, A

Skyworks Solutions, Inc., together with its subsidiaries, designs, develops, manufactures, and markets analog and mixed signal semiconductors worldwide.

"We rate SKYWORKS SOLUTIONS INC (SWKS) a 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 robust revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, notable return on equity, solid stock price performance and impressive record of earnings per share growth. 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."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • SWKS's very impressive revenue growth greatly exceeded the industry average of 10.6%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues leaped by 59.4%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • SWKS 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 3.88, which clearly demonstrates the ability to cover short-term cash needs.
  • Current return on equity exceeded its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a clear sign of strength within the company. Compared to other companies in the Semiconductors & Semiconductor Equipment industry and the overall market, SKYWORKS SOLUTIONS INC's return on equity exceeds that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • Powered by its strong earnings growth of 106.12% and other important driving factors, this stock has surged by 153.23% over the past year, outperforming the rise in the S&P 500 Index during the same period. Regarding the stock's future course, although almost any stock can fall in a broad market decline, SWKS should continue to move higher despite the fact that it has already enjoyed a very nice gain in the past year.
  • SKYWORKS SOLUTIONS INC 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. During the past fiscal year, SKYWORKS SOLUTIONS INC increased its bottom line by earning $2.37 versus $1.44 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($4.89 versus $2.37).

 

KRFT Chart KRFT data by YCharts

2. Kraft Foods Group Inc. (KRFT)
Market Cap: $51.1 billion
Year-to-date return: 39.03%
TheStreet Ratings: Hold, C

Kraft Foods Group, Inc. operates as a consumer packaged food and beverage company. It operates through six segments: Cheese, Refrigerated Meals, Beverages, Meals & Desserts, Enhancers & Snack Nuts, and Canada.

"We rate KRAFT FOODS GROUP INC (KRFT) a HOLD. The primary factors that have impacted our rating are mixed - some indicating strength, some showing weaknesses, with little evidence to justify the expectation of either a positive or negative performance for this stock relative to most other stocks. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, good cash flow from operations and solid stock price performance. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including deteriorating net income, generally higher debt management risk and premium valuation."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • The revenue growth came in higher than the industry average of 10.1%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 2.2%. 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 $1,140.00 million or 23.37% when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, KRAFT FOODS GROUP INC has also vastly surpassed the industry average cash flow growth rate of -34.72%.
  • The gross profit margin for KRAFT FOODS GROUP INC is currently extremely low, coming in at 12.67%. It has decreased significantly from the same period last year. Along with this, the net profit margin of -8.47% is significantly below that of the industry average.

 

 

 

HSP Chart HSP data by YCharts

1. Hospira Inc. (HSP)
Market Cap: $15 billion
Year-to-date return: 43.41%
TheStreet Ratings: Buy, B

Hospira, Inc. provides injectable drugs and infusion technologies to develop, manufacture, distribute, and market products worldwide. The company operates through Americas, EMEA, and APAC segments.

"We rate HOSPIRA INC (HSP) a BUY. This is driven by multiple strengths, which we believe should have a greater impact than any weaknesses, and should give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks we cover. 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, increase in net income and good cash flow from operations. Although the company may harbor some minor weaknesses, we feel they are unlikely to have a significant impact on results."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • The revenue growth came in higher than the industry average of 8.2%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 3.9%. This growth in revenue appears to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, improving the earnings per share.
  • The current debt-to-equity ratio, 0.53, 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 1.17, which illustrates the ability to avoid short-term cash problems.
  • HOSPIRA INC has improved earnings per share by 5.0% 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, HOSPIRA INC turned its bottom line around by earning $1.95 versus -$0.05 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($2.39 versus $1.95).
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the Pharmaceuticals industry average, but is less than that of the S&P 500. The net income increased by 6.9% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, going from $33.50 million to $35.80 million.
  • Net operating cash flow has increased to $327.10 million or 27.82% when compared to the same quarter last year. The firm also exceeded the industry average cash flow growth rate of -9.11%.