Stock Quotes in this Article: DAL, F, GOOG, INTC, MU

BALTIMORE (Stockpickr) -- The Federal Reserve is in the spotlight this morning, as investors wait for the results of another two-day policy committee meeting on Wednesday. And investors expect the faucet to keep flowing into 2014.

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By and large, the consensus is that the $85 billion monthly QE3 program won't end this year but instead some time in early 2014. That veer off course becomes especially interesting given presumptive Fed Chairman Janet Yellen's bent toward stimulus. Bernanke may be more inclined to smooth the transition by keeping the cash flowing.

Meanwhile, earnings season is catching investors' attention too. With some of the biggest names on Wall Street set to announce their quarterly numbers this week, expect a couple of interesting days for the big indexes. We'll take advantage of the flux too, courtesy of five new Rocket Stock names.

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 220 weeks, our weekly list of five plays has outperformed the S&P 500 by 89.3%.

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Without further ado, here's a look at this week's Rocket Stocks.


First up is search engine giant Google (GOOG). This $339 billion tech stock made headlines when it joined the $1,000 club, breaking through that big psychological price barrier on the heels of a strong earnings call on Oct. 17. That brings Google's total year-to-date gains to 43.5% -- huge outperformance over the S&P 500. But don't think that Google's run is over just yet.

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Google has made a big transition in recent years. The firm has reached out from its search engine roots to build itself a social network, a cell phone business, an operating system and much more. Thing is, Google's success comes in spite of those growth efforts, not because of them -- search ads still make up more than 80% of Google's revenue. But Google is making the right move by throwing businesses at the wall until something sticks; the firm's huge cash generation gives it that luxury.

GOOG currently takes in around 60% of the world's search traffic, positioning that gives it some big advantages in holding onto its top-dog status. One of Google's biggest challenges is going to be not overpaying for acquisition targets in the future; with more than $53 billion in net cash and investments, the firm has more cash than it knows what to do with right now. And that's a good problem to have.


Intel (INTC) is another huge tech name that's making our Rocket Stocks list this week. The firm is the biggest microchip maker in the world, with an 80% share of the global processor business. Size comes with some big advantages for Intel right now, even if smaller rivals are trying to unseat the chip giant.

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It's easy to think that Intel's market is saturated right now, especially given how commoditized the PC business has become. But Intel is one of the few bastions of profitability in the PC supply chain, and it's spreading its expertise into new areas too. Intel has painted a huge target on the mobile device market, with a strategy built around taking its powerful computer processors and scaling down their power needs. As the Atom family of chips makes its way into more devices, Intel should benefit immensely. That's only magnified by the fast-paced upgrade cycle in for mobile devices.

I mentioned that size comes with big advantages. One of them is a fortress balance sheet. Intel currently carries almost $14 billion in net cash and investments, enough to cover more than 10% of the firm's market capitalization at current price levels. That's more than enough wherewithal to keep investing in R&D and still have enough left over to support a hefty 3.7% dividend yield in 2013.

Ford Motor

Six years ago, Ford Motor (F) wouldn't have made this list. At the time, the Detroit auto giant was making cars that consumers didn't want, and it was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. Fast forward to today, and just about everything has changed at this 110-year-old company except for the name. And for investors, that's a very good thing.

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Ford was the sole Detroit automaker that managed to avoid bankruptcy -- and the only one whose investors didn't get completely left for dead in the process. Most important, Ford has managed to once again build cars that consumers want, with the quality awards and glowing reviews to prove it. The firm's lineup has been totally revamped since the Great Recession, and the firm has done a great job of building its models on common platforms, which greatly reduce costs without sacrificing build quality.

Like other automakers, Ford shed its unprofitable brands in the wake of the Great Recession, but it held onto Lincoln, a marque that previously lived in luxury-car no-man's land. The decision to reposition Lincoln as a "premium" brand and actually differentiate its models from Ford's own should generate a lot of value for shareholders and extend Ford's reach further upmarket.

With rising analyst sentiment this week, we're betting on shares.

Micron Technology

2013 has been a blockbuster year for Micron Technology (MU); shares of the flash memory maker have rocketed more than 161% since the calendar flipped over to January this year. And the big industry tailwinds pushing at Micron's back aren't showing any signs of slowing down right now.

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Micron is a computer memory maker that until recently was best-known for manufacturing RAM for PCs. But the company has spent the last several years building its flash memory business, a change that exposes Micron to a far more lucrative niche. Flash memory has been in huge demand in recent years, buoyed in large part by demand for mobile devices, which use the faster, more compact memory type. The increasing use of solid state drives in consumer PCs is another big trend that Micron is riding. As flash-based storage makes its way to more consumer-driven computers (versus prosumer machines), MU benefits in a very big way.

Micron has some deep inroads with original equipment manufacturers, the firms that actually make the devices that use MU's storage. The firm's OEM connections are a big advantage because they keep sales efforts minimal. Instead, the firm just needs to keep creating flash technology that device makers want.

Best of all, Micron still sports an earnings multiple of just 16 despite all of the share price appreciation in 2013; there's still room for this stock to run.

Delta Air Lines

The old joke goes that the best way to become a millionaire is to start as a billionaire and then buy an airline. So, like Ford, Delta Air Lines (DAL) is a name that wouldn't have made this list a few years ago. But the airline industry is cyclical -- and we're currently on the upswing of another cycle in airline stocks this year.

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Delta is one of the country's legacy carriers, and one of the largest airlines in the world, with more than 720 aircraft serving 247 mainline destinations globally. Delta's scale changed dramatically when it merged with Northwest Airlines in 2008, a move that created a lot of cost savings for the combined firm. That's a big component of the double-digit net margins that Delta has been able to churn out in 2013.

The firm's willingness to go beyond the conventional legacy airline model is commendable -- it has led to an investment in Virgin Atlantic, for example. While other discount carriers still pose considerable risks to Delta's model, the fact remains that Delta is able to service more highly competitive routes than domestic rivals, and that should keep high-revenue frequent fliers in the firm's seats.

With rising analyst expectations 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.

-- Written by Jonas Elmerraji in Baltimore.


Follow Stockpickr on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.

At the time of publication, author had no positions in stocks mentioned.

Jonas Elmerraji, CMT, is a senior market analyst at Agora Financial in Baltimore and a contributor to

TheStreet. Before that, he managed a portfolio of stocks for an investment advisory returned 15% in 2008. He has been featured in Forbes , Investor's Business Daily, and on Jonas holds a degree in financial economics from UMBC and the Chartered Market Technician designation.

Follow Jonas on Twitter @JonasElmerraji