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10 Companies That Prove Stock Picking Is Still Alive

BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- Many individual investors have made it clear they're no longer interested in stocks, as they're stampeding out of the market directly or via mutual fund redemptions in favor of the relative safety of U.S. bonds.

But that may be short-sighted, because for those willing to do homework and take on some risk, the rewards are there.

With a conservative bent in mind, I screened Morningstar's database for the 10 top-performing U.S. stocks this year with a three-year track record of relatively steady appreciation belonging to companies with market values of at least $10 billion and solid fundamentals.

Their returns this year range from the 57% of corporate information-data-services provider Teradata (TDC), to 149% for drug designer and manufacturer Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (REGN - Get Report). Four of the 10 have more than doubled this year.

There is seemingly no common denominator to their success as they are an eclectic bunch and include a paint maker, a retail clothing chain, two drug makers, two financial companies, a telecommunications firm and three technology firms, including the world's most valuable company ever, Apple (AAPL - Get Report), given its $621 billion market value as of yesterday.

Surely these companies are benefiting from investors' efforts to avoid European exposure, given the ongoing sovereign debt problems there, and minimize risk by going with a proven, large-cap winner.

But given the run-up in their shares, some may now expect that most have sky-high valuations and not much room left to run.

But, apparently, that's not the case, as analysts remain bullish on most of them. Apple, for example, has 34 "buy" ratings from analysts, and Regeneron, despite its 149% return, still garners eight "buys" from the 18 analysts that follow it, while three of the companies on this list have 10 analysts' "buy" ratings on them.

And to sweeten their appeal, several of these companies pay dividends, led by computer hard-disk maker Seagate Technology's (STX) 3.59%.

Here are summaries of the 10 top-performing U.S. large-cap stocks this year, in inverse order of their year-to-date return:
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SYM TRADE IT LAST %CHG
AAPL $113.29 0.00%
REGN $536.70 0.00%
SHW $258.11 0.00%
S $5.19 0.00%
FB $91.01 0.00%

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DOW 16,643.01 -11.76 -0.07%
S&P 500 1,988.87 +1.21 0.06%
NASDAQ 4,828.3250 +15.6170 0.32%

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