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Top Five Large-Cap Stocks

Entergy (ETR), an integrated energy company, was initiated in January with a hold rating. The company has experienced a solid stock price performance and EPS and revenue growth, but its profit margins have been poor overall. Third-quarter net income increased 18.1% over a year ago to $467.53 million. EPS increased 25.7% in the most recent quarter and the company has demonstrated a pattern of positive EPS growth over the past two years. This trend is expected to continue.

The gross profit margin is currently lower than what is desirable, coming in at 33.20%, but it has nevertheless increased from the same period last year.

Stocks in the electric industry have been under pressure due to concerns about rising inflation, as the Federal Reserve will likely continue to raise interest rates. Increases in energy and purchased power costs are putting a squeeze on margins within this industry. Plus, many companies are increasingly feeling the impact of employee benefit programs and other costs associated with the future delivery of power.

Southern Copper (PCU) mines, smelts and refines copper in southern Peru. It has had a buy rating since November 2005. The company's earnings per share improved by 20.3% to $2.13 per share in the third quarter compared with the same period last year, continuing a two-year pattern of positive EPS growth. Net income grew 20.4% to $627.85 million mainly due to margin expansion and higher interest income. Revenue totaled $1.6 billion, up from $1.4 billion a year ago.

Management recently approved a new $2.11 billion investment plan to develop and expand various projects in Peru. The principal risk to the buy rating emanates from any undue delay in the completion of Southern Copper's capacity expansion and new mine projects. Copper supply could be affected by production stoppages due to labor strikes and the availability of mining equipment, as well as transportation bottlenecks.

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