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Top Rocket Stocks for Week of March 3

Updated from 6:51 a.m. EST

Even in bear markets, the best strategy often is to find volatile stocks and trade them accordingly. Each week's Rocket Stocks column is meant to bring you such names, especially for momentum traders looking to profit from short-term market catalysts.

Before we look at the Rocket Stocks for the Week of March 3-7 -- which includes names like Goldman Sachs (GS) and Merck (MRK) -- let's review how last week's Rocket Stocks fared.

  • Plains Exploration (PXP): Up as much as 10.5% but finishing the week with a tempered 4.7% gain. The company reported earnings of 83 cents a share, beating the 69-cent Wall Street estimate.
  • Fluor (FLR): Up as much as 9.4% but ending the week with a 4.7% gain. The company raised its 2008 guidance.
  • Cisco Systems (CSCO): Up nearly 7% at one point but closing out the week with a 3.7% gain. The company presented at the Goldman Sachs Technology Investment Symposium midweek.
  • GulfMark Offshore (GLF): Up more than 8% during the week but ending it up 2.1%. The company reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter adjusted earnings, beating the average analyst estimate by 66 cents a share.
  • Pioneer Drilling (PDC): Up as much as 10% but ending the week just 1% higher. The company posted a rise in quarterly profits.
  • Mirant (MIR): Flat for the week; the company raised its outlook on 2008 adjusted EBITA.
  • Southern Union (SUG): Down 7.6% on the week after guiding in line for 2008.
  • NutriSystem (NTRI): Down 8.9% on the week after issuing a disappointing '08 forecast.
  • Foster Wheeler (FWLT): Down 13.3% on the week after reporting a weaker-than-expected quarter.
  • Marvell Technology (MRVL): Up 7.2% at one point but ending the week down nearly 1%. The company, which is scheduled to report fourth-quarter earnings after Thursday's close, makes this week's Rocket Stocks as well.

Now let's look at a few of the picks from this week's Rocket Stocks portfolio.

First up this week is an earnings play: Basic Energy Services (BAS). The Texas-based company, which provides well-site services to oil and natural-gas drilling companies within the U.S., is scheduled to report fourth-quarter earnings after the market close Monday and host a conference call the next morning to discuss the results.

Basic Energy is also involved in the pressure pumping business, which, according to Halliburton (HAL), has proved strong lately. Basic Energy has a forward price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of 10. Given the sector's strong performance, Basic Energy could climb on any upside surprise.

Investors may also do well to keep an eye on small-cap stock Harvard Bioscience (HBIO). This company, which develops and manufactures a range of medical tools for use in research, posted amazing but largely overlooked quarterly results on Thursday.

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