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More top-performing CAPS members are feeling bullish about Rio Tinto (NYSE:RTP) these days, enough to upgrade it from its long held four-star rank to a top-of-the-class five-stars, in fact. A total of 1,253 members have given their opinion on the international miner, with many offering analysis and commentary explaining the recent optimism.

Rio Tinto is making progress toward paying down close to $40 billion in debt it picked up in 2007 when it outbid Alcoa (NYSE:AA) for Alcan. Rio Tinto has raised $2.5 billion from asset sales so far this year. Rio Tinto struck a deal with Vale (NYSE:RIO) in January for iron and potash assets, and agreed to a $761 million coal mine sale to Arch Coal (NYSE:ACI), which sits No. 2 behind leading coal producer Peabody Energy (NYSE:BTU).

And a recent approval from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission brings Rio Tinto one step closer to a deal with Aluminum Corp. of China (NYSE:ACH). The proposed terms would have the Chinese company provide Rio Tinto with $12.3 billion in return for stakes in Rio's assets, as well as offering $7.2 billion for convertible bonds. The cash infusion would help Rio Tinto make the $10 billion debt payment it has coming due this year. The transaction is still awaiting further Australian regulatory approval, however.

Even if the deal with Aluminum Corp. of China gets nixed, many investors see other options for Rio Tinto. Many expect it (and other commodity producers such as Southern Copper (NYSE:PCU)) to benefit greatly from Chinese stimulus spending. Rio Tinto may still find other suitors willing to make a deal, or even find itself in a position to raise more capital itself.

To see what the very best CAPS analysts are saying now about Rio Tinto -- as well as other winning stocks they are picking -- head on over to CAPS and have a look. The community research and resources in CAPS are totally free, unlike analyst opinions reserved for paying clients.

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