P&G is a powerhouse in the U.S., but it's courting growth opportunities abroad. With burgeoning middle-class populations in emerging market countries, Procter has a big opportunity to increase its footprint by selling them on the kinds of products that have become mainstays here at home. That said, the firm isn't without competition -- private labels have provided a big challenge for the Cincinnati-based firm, as consumers have become more willing to eschew their favored brands for lower prices at the register. Procter's best defense is a good offense, and a massive advertising budget should help to remind consumers of why they should buy brand names.
The firm has been working on costs too. Procter & Gamble has been working on an initiative to reduce its costs by around $10 billion, a move that would expand the firm's already impressive margins and leave more flexibility in competing with price leaders like store brands. With rising analyst sentiment in this stock right now, we're betting on shares.
Wells Fargo (WFC) built up a reputation as the best of the big banks in the wake of the recession, and it's keeping that reputation in 2012; it's worth noting that Wells is the only one of the big four U.S. banks that's actually kept its share price in the black since late 2007.Besides a less scary balance sheet and better shareholder stewardship, though, Wells Fargo isn't all that different from the rest of the big banks. It operates in the same businesses, ranging from retail and commercial banking to investments, and like its big peers, it ballooned in size in the middle of the Great Recession by buying a failing competitor. After 2012 brought a rally in most of WFC's peers, though, this stock looks less overbought at this point. Extremely low interest rates are a double-edged sword for Wells Fargo. While rates near zero give the firm the ability to borrow at next to nothing, it also has to lend with only tiny profits baked in. As economic improvements start pushing interest rates higher in the long-term, Wells should be able to achieve some impressive profitability levels. Until then, investors shouldn't be complaining about the deep net margins WFC has been earning this year. That's why we're adding this bank to our Rocket Stocks list this week.
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