BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- Apple (AAPL - Get Report), Marathon Oil (MRO - Get Report) and CBS (CBS - Get Report) made Bank of America/Merrill Lynch's list of top stocks for 2012 and may help investors beat the market next year by a wide margin.Bank of America/Merrill Lynch strategist Savita Subramanian compiled the firm's favorite stock ideas for 2012, plucking one name from each of the 10 sectors of the S&P 500. Subramanian says the stock picks align with Bank of America/Merrill Lynch's investment themes for the year ahead.
10. Xcel Energy (XEL) Company Profile: Xcel Energy is a supplier of electric power and natural gas service in several U.S. states, including Colorado, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Texas. Sector Representation: Utilities Share Price: $26.06 (Dec. 5) Potential Upside: 7.4% based on a price target of $28 Investment Thesis: Analyst Steve Fleishman touts Xcel for the company's yield, earnings stability and dividend growth. He also likes the stock as it is one of the highest quality, lowest risk regulated utilities in his coverage universe. "We like XEL's strong rate-base wind program and multi-state utility model, and find the stock attractive post its equity overhang completion," Fleishman writes. "Investments in wind generation provide solid growth. Challenges will be translating these opportunities into [earnings-per-share] growth by managing cash flow and regulatory lag."