By Jonas Elmerraji
Posted on Feb. 8, 2010

Finance Professor " target="_blank">Scott Rothbort will be answering questions on Stockpickr Answers on Monday, Feb. 8. Ask away!

Investor anxiety over the Eurozone budget crisis weighed in hard on markets last week, giving the broad-based S&P 500 index a 4.39% loss year-to-date. Finance ministers and central bankers from G7 countries met in Canada on Friday and Saturday in an attempt to hash out solutions to Greece’s growing debt problems. But in truth, the situation in Europe was only half the story; domestically, poor job numbers added lead to the market as the selloff intensified.

With this week’s investor sentiment still far from certain ahead of Monday’s open, it’s time to turn back to our Rocket Stocks list to search out the diamonds in the financial rough.

Rocket Stocks, our weekly list of beaten-down stocks with near-term growth catalysts and long-term growth potential, seek to separate the cream from the investing crop. And during earnings season, we typically turn to pre-earnings plays for a shot at speculative gains.

Last week, our Rocket Stocks fared less well than normal, underperforming the S&P by 1.76%. But over the long term, we’ve overwhelmingly outperformed the rest of the market, generating 43.46% outperformance over the last 29 weeks.

Here’s a look at this week’s list.

Despite the drama that’s already unfolded this year with golf spokesman Tiger Woods, Nike (NKE) should perform well this week amid rising analyst expectations. Nike was one of the few companies that kept Woods on its endorsement rolls following a personal scandal in the golf legend’s life -- a move that should play out well for the company once Woods, who essentially launched Nike’s billion-dollar golf business, returns to professional competition.

More important for Nike is the company’s flagship footwear and apparel business, which continues to dominate the industry. The company has long been a key innovator in sports apparel, and Interbrand naming Nike the most valuable sports brand of 2009. With considerable control over the industry, Nike should continue to see sales improve as consumer confidence perks back up.

But in the long term, the real growth potential is in the international market. Nike enjoys much of the same brand-positioning abroad that it does here at home, and as the company expands its efforts to sell internationally, it should be well rewarded. Presently, with earnings in sight for mid-March, we could see investors pile into the stock this week on a market reversal.

The business of NYSE Euronext (NYX) shouldn’t be unfamiliar to Stockpickr readers -- the exchange group is one of the most dominant market operators in the world. And with earnings scheduled for Feb. 9, the potential for a pop is very real for NYX right now.

That’s not to say that things haven’t been tough for NYX of late. Increased scrutiny over financial markets and reforms over trading in certain types of securities have taken their toll on the company’s ability to stay competitive and deliver growth. But overall, NYX’s economic tailwinds should serve investors well in the short term.

NYSE Euronext is one of the leading innovators in the financial space, currently embarking on building a 400,000 square foot data center to capitalize on new revenue streams from institutional investors. With investors still relatively unsure about NYX’s business health following disappointment in previous quarters, any surprise could work in our favor this week.

Diversified holding company Loews (L) is an interesting firm, with a handful of publicly traded subsidiaries in its portfolio and a strong balance sheet ready to fuel future acquisitions. Now is a fairly good time to be an owner of Loews -- at least that’s the hope ahead of today’s earnings call.

Loews owns a controlling interest in a number of companies with businesses ranging from insurance to drilling to tourism, but what’s interesting about this firm is the fact that its partly owned subsidiaries are, for the most part, publicly traded themselves. And although that feature gives investors the option of avoiding Loews, the company’s instant diversification and profitability track record should have enough investors' attention to keep them interested in the company’s stock this week.

For more stocks that made this week's cut, including CVS Caremark (CVS) and Chipotle (CMG), 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