5. Lowe's Cos. (LOW)
Company profile: Lowe's, with a market value of $33 billion, retails building materials and supplies, lumber, hardware and appliances through more than 1,700 stores in the U.S. and Canada.
Dividend Yield: 2.06%
Investor takeaway: Its shares are up 8.4% this year and have a three-year, average annual return of 14%. Analysts give its shares nine "buy" ratings, six "buy/holds,"12 "holds," and one "weak hold," according to a survey of analysts by S&P, which itself has it rated "sell," primarily on a valuation basis.4. eBay (EBAY) Company profile: eBay, with a market value of $54 billion, provides an online trading platform for buyers and sellers in nearly 40 markets of various sizes across several product categories. It is one of the world's most popular e-commerce destinations. It also owns PayPal, an online payments company. Investor takeaway: Its shares are up 33% this year and have a three-year, average annual return of 33%. Analysts give its shares 12 "buy" ratings, seven "buy/holds," and 15 "holds," according to a survey of analysts by S&P. One analyst cited PayPal as being integral for future growth. For fiscal 2012, analysts estimate it will earn $2.34 per share this year and that will grow by 16%, to $2.71 per share, next year. Two of the Ultimate Stock Picker funds initiated positions in this company in the first quarter and two of the funds of the high conviction list also added to their already existing positioins in eBay. 3. Las Vegas Sands (LVS) Company profile: Las Vegas Sands, with a market value of $40 billion, is the world's largest operator of fully integrated resorts featuring casino, hotel, entertainment, food and beverage, retail, and convention center operations. The company owns the Venetian Macau, Sands Macau, and Four Seasons Hotel Macau in China, the Marina Bay Sands resort in Singapore, and the Venetian Las Vegas and Sands Bethlehem casinos in the U.S. 2. Visa (V) Company profile:Visa, with a market value of $97 billion, manages a group of global payment card brands, which it licenses to financial institutions that issue cards to their customers. It acts as the payment processor. Dividend Yield: 0.7% Investor takeaway: Its shares are up 18% this year and have a three-year, average annual return of 23%. S&P says its prospects will improve with "a U.S. economic recovery, aided by the secular trend toward non-cash payments and strong growth prospects in emerging markets." Analysts give its shares 17 "buy" ratings, 11"buy/holds," eight "holds," and one "weak hold," according to a survey of analysts by S&P. 1. Amazon (AMZN) Company profile: Amazon, with a market value of $96 billion, is the highest-grossing online retailer in the world with $48.1 billion in net sales in 2011, or 7% of the $680 billion global e-commerce market. Investor takeaway: Its shares are up 23% this year and have a three-year, average annual return of 41% and an amazing 15-year annualized return of 39%. Analysts give its shares 20 "buy" ratings, 10 "buy/holds," and 10 "holds," according to a survey of analysts by S&P. S&P analysts say that "long term, we expect Amazon's initiatives will result in continued strong sales results and significant margin expansion, as it leverages its leading brand name and position as an Internet retailer. We consider Amazon a best-in-class retailer that generates significant free cash flow." Dividend Yield: 2.09% Investor takeaway: Its shares are up 13% this year and have a three-year, average annual return of 5%. Analysts give its shares 14 "buy" ratings, 11 "buy/holds," and three "holds," according to a survey of analysts by S&P.
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