10. General Motors (GM)
Company profile: GM, mockingly called "government motors" for its government bailout, emerged from bankruptcy in July 2009. It is the market leader in U.S. sales with a 19% market share of the market.
Investor takeaway: GM's shares are up 29% this year. Morningstar found five "buys" and one "sell" in its survey of analysts' ratings. S&P has a "strong buy" recommendation on its shares and gives the company five stars, its highest. It reiterated that opinion Feb. 1.
9. Galaxy Entertainment Group (GXYEY)Company profile: Galaxy is one of only six companies with a license to operate casinos in China, including in the lucrative Macau resort. It also sells construction materials in Hong Kong, Macau and mainland China. Investor takeaway: This may be a stock for gamblers in more ways than one. Its shares are up 30% this year, including 27% in the past month, giving it a market value of $10 billion. But S&P has a "strong sell" rating on its stock, and few, if any, U.S. analysts have ratings on the company. But the potential, in the event of continued growth in the Chinese middle class, could make this a great long-term play. 8. LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton (lvmuy) Company profile: LVMH is an international producer and seller of luxury goods, ranging from fashion and leather goods, to watches and jewelry, wines and spirits, and perfumes and cosmetics. Its brands include: Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Givenchy, Tag Heuer, Hennessy and Moet & Chandon. The Paris-based company said Monday that watch sales in 2011 grew 98%, due to the acquisition of Bulagri and a 41% increase in its own product sales. Investor takeaway: The company's shares are up 21% this year and have a three-year average annual return of 47%, resulting in an $84 market value. The French company does not get U.S. analyst coverage. 7. Gap (GPS) Company profile: Gap is a specialty retailer that sells casual apparel under the store brands Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic, Piperlime and Athleta. The company operates more than 3,100 corporate-owned stores worldwide. Investor takeaway: Shares are up 17% this year and have a three-year average annual return of 26%. Morningstar analysts say "Gap consistently generates healthy profit margins and strong cash flow, thanks to prudent expense management even through weak economic cycles." S&P's survey of analysts found three "buy" ratings, two "buy/holds," 27 "holds" and two "sells." 6. Marriott International (MAR) Company profile: Marriott operates more than 3,500 hotels in more than 50 countries, including 9% of all hotel rooms in the U.S. Its brands include Marriott, J.W. Marriott, Ritz Carlton, Courtyard by Marriott, Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott, Residence Inn and Renaissance Hotels. Investor takeaway: The company's shares are up 24% this year and have a three-year average annual return of 35%. The company has a $12 billion market value and its shares have a dividend yield of 1.11%. Investors clearly expect to see more corporate and recreational travel as the economy improves, which is driving the shares up. Marriott also just announced plans to return over $3 billion to shareholders in the next three years through dividends and share repurchases.
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