NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- With uncertainty over Greece's future in the eurozone, China's stock market crash, and United Airlines (UAL - Get Report) grounding flights due to computer malfunctions, it's been a pretty chaotic week. To add to that list, the New York Stock Exchange  (ICE - Get Report) halted trading for several hours due to technical difficulties. With the NYSE's bump in the road earlier this week, we decided to check Quant Ratings for exchanges to buy.

These are all exchanges where commodities, interest-rate contracts, bonds, stocks, and derivatives of these assets such as futures, ETFs, are traded. These exchanges earn a percentage of the volume of trades executed on the exchanges. Even though many started out as member-owned marketplaces, the exchanges now operate as for-profit publicly traded businesses. As such, they stand to gain extra revenue if they make available for trading new types of securities. So their going public has coincided with the proliferation of securities traded on these exchanges, domestically and internationally. They also generate revenues by leveraging their trading platforms for use by other exchanges in the U.S. and abroad.

So, what are the best exchanges investors should be buying? Here are the top four, according to TheStreet Ratings,TheStreet's proprietary ratings tool.

TheStreet Ratings 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 exchanges made the list. And when you're done, be sure to read about which semiconductor stocks to buy now. Year-to-date returns are based on July 9, 2015, closing prices. The highest-rated stock appears last.

NDAQ ChartNDAQ data by YCharts
4. NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc. (NDAQ - Get Report)

Rating: Buy, B
Market Cap: $8.3 billion
Year-to-date return: 2.6%

The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc. provides trading, clearing, exchange technology, regulatory, securities listing, information, and public company services worldwide. It operates in four segments: Market Services, Listing Services, Information Services, and Technology Solutions.

"We rate NASDAQ OMX GROUP INC (NDAQ) a BUY. This is driven by a number of 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 reasonable valuation levels, good cash flow from operations, solid stock price performance and largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures. We feel its 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:

  • Net operating cash flow has increased to $231.00 million or 26.22% when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, NASDAQ OMX GROUP INC has also modestly surpassed the industry average cash flow growth rate of 20.99%.
  • 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.
  • NASDAQ OMX GROUP INC 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. 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, NASDAQ OMX GROUP INC increased its bottom line by earning $2.39 versus $2.24 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($3.25 versus $2.39).
  • NDAQ, with its decline in revenue, underperformed when compared the industry average of 7.0%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly dropped by 4.5%. Weakness in the company's revenue seems to have hurt the bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.

CBOE ChartCBOE data by YCharts
3. CBOE Holdings, Inc. (CBOE - Get Report)

Rating: Buy, A-
Market Cap: $5.1 billion
Year-to-date return: -4%

CBOE Holdings, Inc., through its subsidiaries, operates as an options exchange and creator of listed options in the United States.

"We rate CBOE HOLDINGS INC (CBOE) 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 largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, notable return on equity, reasonable valuation levels, expanding profit margins and solid stock price performance. We feel its 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:

  • CBOE 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 2.82, which clearly demonstrates the ability to cover short-term cash needs.
  • The company's current return on equity greatly increased when compared to its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a signal of significant strength within the corporation. Compared to other companies in the Diversified Financial Services industry and the overall market, CBOE HOLDINGS INC's return on equity significantly exceeds that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • The gross profit margin for CBOE HOLDINGS INC is rather high; currently it is at 55.98%. Regardless of CBOE's high profit margin, it has managed to decrease from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, CBOE's net profit margin of 29.58% significantly outperformed against the industry.
  • 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.

CME ChartCME data by YCharts
2. CME Group Inc. (CME - Get Report)

Rating: Buy, A-
Market Cap: $32.7 billion
Year-to-date return: 9.4%

CME Group Inc., through its subsidiaries, operates contract markets for the trading of futures and options on futures contracts worldwide.

"We rate CME GROUP INC (CME) 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, solid stock price performance, impressive record of earnings per share growth, compelling growth in net income and reasonable valuation levels. Although no company is perfect, currently we do not see any significant weaknesses which are likely to detract from the generally positive outlook."

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

  • CME's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 7.0%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 8.7%. 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 32.00% 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, CME should continue to move higher despite the fact that it has already enjoyed a very nice gain in the past year.
  • CME GROUP INC has improved earnings per share by 24.1% 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, CME GROUP INC increased its bottom line by earning $3.35 versus $2.93 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($3.81 versus $3.35).
  • 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 Diversified Financial Services industry average. The net income increased by 23.8% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, going from $266.80 million to $330.40 million.

ICE ChartICE data by YCharts
1. Intercontinental Exchange, Inc. (ICE - Get Report)

Rating: Buy, A+
Market Cap: $25.1 billion
Year-to-date return: 2.3%

Intercontinental Exchange, Inc. operates a network of regulated exchanges and clearing houses for financial and commodity markets in the United States, the United Kingdom, Continental Europe, Israel, Canada, and Singapore.

"We rate INTERCONTINENTAL EXCHANGE (ICE) 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, solid stock price performance, impressive record of earnings per share growth, compelling growth in net income and reasonable valuation levels. We feel its strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows weak operating cash flow."

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

  • ICE's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 7.0%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 8.7%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • 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. Although other factors naturally played a role, the company's strong earnings growth was key. 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.
  • INTERCONTINENTAL EXCHANGE has improved earnings per share by 30.8% 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, INTERCONTINENTAL EXCHANGE increased its bottom line by earning $8.45 versus $4.03 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($11.73 versus $8.45).
  • 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 Diversified Financial Services industry average. The net income increased by 20.7% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, going from $261.00 million to $315.00 million.