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5 Rocket Stocks to Buy for Election Week - views
BALTIMORE (Stockpickr) -- We're in the final stretch -- just two more days until we don't have to watch campaign commercials anymore. With voters gearing up for Election Day tomorrow, investors are watching closely to figure out which stocks stand to benefit the most under a Romney White House or another four years of President Obama.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: it doesn't really matter.
A handful of recent studies back up the fact that neither Democrat nor Republican administrations have a statistically meaningful impact on market performance. That's not necessarily a bad thing -- election cycles have historically boosted stock performance in election years, possibly contributing to the more than 12% gains that the S&P 500 has seen so far this year.
Stocks are showing promise right now no matter whose yard sign you've got by your driveway this week. That's why we're turning to a new set of Rocket Stocks that look ready to run higher.
For the uninitiated, "Rocket Stocks" are our list of companies with short-term gain catalysts and longer-term growth potential. To find them, I run a weekly quantitative screen that seeks out stocks with a combination of analyst upgrades and positive earnings surprises to identify rising analyst expectations, a bullish signal for stocks in any market. After all, where analysts' expectations are increasing, institutional cash often follows.
In the last 175 weeks, our weekly list of five plays has outperformed the S&P 500 by 73.9%.
Without further ado, here's a look at this week's Rocket Stocks.
2012 has been a great year for Visa (V) -- shares of the $116 billion payment network have rallied more than 41% so far this year, easily besting the broad market's double-digit rally. Visa's payment network is the standard bearer in the industry, its logo appearing on more than 60% of the world's credit and debit cards. That's afforded the firm a comfortable cushion over rivals like MasterCard without the credit risk seen at other rivals like American Express (AXP).
Visa doesn't carry any credit risk because it doesn't make loans. Instead, its partner banks do the lending, leaving Visa to collect a discount fee off the top of every purchase made over its network. Because the Visa brand is ubiquitous, merchants effectively have no choice but to accept it -- and because Visa is accepted universally, it's exceptionally popular with newly issued cards. That positive feedback loop should keep the brand strong even as competition ramps up for consumers' spending volume.
Let's be clear: For all of its positive attributes, Visa isn't cheap. This stock's earnings multiple is enormous right now, and investors know it. That said, momentum is on the company's side as we approach the end of the year. With growth in global electronic payments lifting the fortunes of all the players in this industry, Visa's momentum isn't likely to slow as we reach year-end.
Boeing's (BA) year has been less good. Shares of the $53 billion aerospace firm have slid 4.5% this year, effectively doing 17% worse than the market since the first trading day of January. But even though Boeing's just been slugging it out sideways, there's reason to like this stock right now.
Most people know its airliner business -- chances are, if you've flown on a commercial airline more than once, you've flown on a Boeing plane. But airliners only make up half of BA's business; the other half comes from the defense sector, where Boeing manufactures aircraft like the KC-46A refueling tanker used by the U.S. Air Force. Despite the political risks of having hefty exposure to the defense budget right now, Boeing's projects are mission-critical and they've got ample backlog to smooth out any rough air over Capitol Hill.
On the commercial front, the new 787 is a game changer. The blank sheet design is substantially more fuel-efficient than similarly sized competitors, and for airlines whose profitability is often tenuous at best, knocking 20% off of their Jet A fuel bills is a big deal. While the program has been slow going and fraught with very public delays, the 787 recorded its first revenue flight with passengers yesterday, a sign that deliveries should be ramping up for other first-adapter customers in the next several months. With rising analyst sentiment in Boeing,
we're betting on shares of the firm this week.
Enterprise Products Partners
Dividend investors rejoice -- we're also betting on shares of an income focused MLP this week. Enterprise Products Partners (EPD) is a Houston-based master limited partnership was essentially designed to generate tax-efficient dividend income for investors, paying out the proceeds of its natural gas pipelines and processing facilities to shareholders in the form of a 4.9% yield.
EPD has benefited from increased natural gas production here at home, even if prices have been on the decline. Because EPD's main business is midstream, it's able to improve its performance by moving more gas throughput, even if natgas prices are continuing to get hammered lower. Crude oil pipelines are becoming an increasingly important part of EPD's asset base, providing a nice complement to the firm's natgas business. As energy consumers actively switch between the two fuels for their needs, the ability to transport both oil and gas should help ensure that EPD's financial performance doesn't hinge on a single source.
Size has advantages in the MLP business. Because this class of firms has to pay out the vast majority of its income to shareholders to hang onto its tax-free status, master limited partnerships often lack the liquidity that we'd see at comparable corporations. Not so with EPD -- the firm currently sports close to a billion dollars in cash and investments, and it's got plenty of dry powder to draw from in the capital markets, where size also matters. Income investors could do worse than this energy name.
A lot has changed in the 54 years since Texas Instruments (TXN) invented the integrated circuit. Today, the Dallas-based firm is the biggest analog chipmaker in the world, boasting a presence in devices ranging from mobile devices, industrial equipment, and medical devices. Yes, the firm maintains a calculator business -- but the source of Texas Instruments' household-name status among math students only makes up around 5% of the firm's overall sales.
As the semiconductor industry regroups, so too is Texas Instruments. The firm has been entrenching itself in the chip business, spending money on next generation manufacturing equipment and acquiring National Semiconductor last year in a deal that dramatically boosted TXN's positioning in the analog chip market. The firm's exposure to the high-growth mobile device market is a big positive for TXN -- it helps spare the firm from the slow growth of the rest of the chip industry. With mobile device sales unlikely to slow in the near-term, investors should get rewarded by the sales this year that finally eclipse pre-recession highs.
While the National Semiconductor acquisition upped Texas Instruments' debt load, the firm's balance sheet health was excellent leading up to the purchase, so total debt isn't out of hand. While it's likely we'll see TXN reduce that debt number in the next few years, the firm is upping its shareholder returns by paying out a 3% dividend right now. That should help buy some time for impatient investors.
Like its biggest rival, shipping giant FedEx (FDX) is reeling from the after-effects of Hurricane Sandy this month. The storm added significant logistical challenges to FedEx's normally difficult job of delivering parcel delivery, but it shouldn't have a material impact on FDX's financial performance.
With UPS (UPS), FedEx makes up a shipping duopoly here in the U.S. While Brown's integrated operations make it the bigger of the two, FedEx is the bigger express shipper, a niche that affords FDX more lucrative margins. While lower-cost ground shipping is a relatively new add-on business for FedEx (the firm acquired it just over a decade ago), it's become extremely profitable for the firm overall, even in the high fuel cost environment that management continues to do battle with.
The shipping business has extremely high barriers to entry that make increased competition unlikely. DHL's corpse in the domestic shipping market serves as a visible warning for other firms who want a piece of the U.S. shipping business. With retail locations, drop boxes, and the fourth-biggest fleet of airplanes in the world (and three times as many planes as UPS), FedEx's network is extremely tough to replicate. With rising analyst sentiment this week, we're betting on shares.
To see all of this week's Rocket Stocks in action, check out the Rocket Stocks portfolio at Stockpickr.
At the time of publication, author had no positions in stocks mentioned.
Jonas Elmerraji, based out of Baltimore, is the editor and portfolio
manager of the Rhino Stock Report, a free investment advisory that
returned 15% in 2008. He is a contributor to numerous financial outlets,
including Forbes and Investopedia, and has been featured in Investor's
Business Daily, in Consumer's Digest and on MSNBC.com.