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Grading the Graders: Analyst Stock Picks for 2012

10. Lam Research (LRCX)

Company profile: Lam makes semiconductor-processing equipment used in the fabrication of integrated circuits.

Investor takeaway: Its shares are up 14% this year to $42.89 and have a three-year, average annual return of 16%. S&P's year-end price target is $52.

9. Celgene (CELG)

Company profile: Celgene is a biopharmaceutical company that develops therapies to treat cancer and immune-inflammatory-related diseases.

Investor takeaway: Its shares are up 16% this year to $78.78 and have a three-year, average annual return of 27%. S&P's year-end price target is $93.

8. Earthlink (ELNK)

Company profile: Earthlink is a major provider of dialup Internet services and also offers broadband Internet. In addition, the firm provides value-added services such as web hosting, advertising, voice over Internet protocol telephone services.

Investor takeaway: Its shares are up 21% this year to $7.86, and have a three-year, average annual return of 7%. S&P's year-end price target is $10. S&P analysts say: "Acquisitions in the business-services area have significantly bolstered sales. We see revenue growth of around 7% to 8% in 2012 and 2013, driven by gains in business services."

7. Coach (COH - Get Report)

Company profile: Coach designs and markets high-end accessories and gifts such as handbags, business cases, footwear, jewelry, sun-wear, travel bags, watches and fragrances.

Investor takeaway: Its shares are up 21% this year to $74.50 and have a three-year, average annual return of 59%. S&P's year-end price target is $80. S&P analysts say: "We see a growing retail business in Asia and further development of Coach Men's expanding its global market opportunity."

6. American Express (AXP)

Company profile: American Express provides charge and credit payment card products, and travel-related services worldwide.

Investor takeaway: Its shares are up 23% this year to $57.88, and have a three-year, average annual return of 43%. S&P's year-end price target is $70.

S&P analysts say: "The company will benefit as consumers and businesses increase their spending in an improving economy. With 56% of revenues from card spending, (it) is positioned well."

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