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10 Mid-Cap Stocks Analysts Love

2. Cliffs Natural Resources (CLF - Get Report) produces iron ore pellets and metallurgical coal in North America and is a provider of direct shipping of lump and iron ore fines out of Australia. The company divides its operations into North American Coal, North American Iron Ore, Asia-Pacific Coal, Asia-Pacific Iron Ore, Latin American Iron Ore, Alternative Energies, Ferroalloys and Global Exploration Group.

Of the 20 analysts covering the stock, 80% recommend a buy and 20% suggest a hold. There are no sell ratings. The stock's average 12-month price target is $104.36, about 66.8% higher than the current price, according to a Bloomberg consensus.

Net revenue for 2011 third quarter surged 59% year-over-year to $2.1 billion, boosted by higher pricing and sales volume in the iron ore segments. Net income attributable to the company's common shareholders grew almost 100% to $590 million, or $4.07 per diluted share, vs. $297 million, or $2.18 per diluted share, during the third quarter of 2010.

Cash and cash equivalents for the quarter stood at $545 million. The company will repurchase up to four million of its outstanding common shares under a new repurchase plan, wherein it has already acquired over 3 million shares at an average weighted cost of $74 per share for a total investment of $222 million.

Recently, Cliffs estimated its full-year 2012 production volume at its Empire mine in Michigan to be over 2.7 million tons, down from the prior fiscal's expected production volume of over 4.6 million tons, attributable to its planned blast furnace maintenance at one of its North American facilities. However, the company said this cut will not impact its previously announced revenue and production volumes in its U.S. iron ore business segment.

For 2011, Cliffs has updated its full-year revenue per ton in the U.S. iron ore segment to be in the range of $135 to $140, sales volume of 24 million tons, vs. the previous view of $130 to $135, sales volume of 25 million tons..

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