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Rocket Stocks: Yum!, Costco, Travelers

BALTIMORE (Stockpickr) -- Major stock indices gained nearly 3% last week, and investors are left wondering if the market can hand over further gains as a new week begins. Sources point to yes, because last week's move higher was largely technicals-based. That means that it was a gain that was driven by the market's price action, not one that was predicated on a shift in economic fundamentals.

This week, however, with a slew of new economic data set to come out -- and mushy market support at 1220 -- stocks have a chance at leveraging their latest move higher for another year-end rally. That timing isn't insignificant either. With the end of the year fast approaching and 2010 highs within investors' sights, the bulls will be aching to end on a high note.

>>Also: 3 Downtrending Stocks to Avoid

But regardless of what happens with stocks this week, we've got a game plan.

Once again, we'll turn to our weekly Rocket Stocks list to outperform the market this week. For the uninitiated, Rocket Stocks are our weekly list of companies with short-term gain catalysts and longer-term growth potential. In the last 81 weeks, Rocket Stocks have outperformed the S&P 500 by 78.31%.

Here's a look at this week's potential plays.

It's about time that we turned to Yum! Brands (YUM) for some upside potential. Yum! was a frequent component of our weekly Rocket Stocks list in 2009, and this year we're counting on repeat successes ahead of the firm's investor and analyst conference on Wednesday.

>>Also: 10 Restaurant Winners of 2010

Yum! is a fast food giant, home to such brands as Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut. Its quick-service chains also enjoy some of the best emerging market penetration in the industry, making the firm an attractive choice for growth-hungry investors right now.

Part of that success comes from prescient positioning several years ago. Yum! was among the first American restaurant firms to embrace China; today, those Chinese restaurants see industry-leading average annual unit sales of $1.2 million and constantly improving margins. Initially, Yum's strategy had been relegated to deploying its existing brand portfolio abroad. Today, however, the firm also owns several localized brands that help Yum drill down its offerings to fit demands in the markets it serves.

>>Who Owns Yum!?: Lone Pine Capital

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