BALTIMORE ( Stockpickr) -- Friday's 1.12% rally in the S&P 500 turned around stocks' sluggish start in December, paring this month's losses to just 0.04%.
That means that since the start of 2013, the S&P has managed to climb higher by 26.57%. From an annual standpoint, that's a serious gain, but it's hardly unprecedented. Since 1975, there have been 11 years with gains greater than 20%, and on average, stocks have returned an extra 12.8% the year after the big return.
With 2014 fast approaching, that's a pretty auspicious sign for the year ahead. To take full advantage, we're taking a closer look at five Rocket Stocks to buy before the New Year.For the uninitiated, "Rocket Stocks" are our list of companies with short-term gain catalysts and longer-term growth potential. To find them, I run a weekly quantitative screen that seeks out stocks with a combination of analyst upgrades and positive earnings surprises to identify rising analyst expectations, a bullish signal for stocks in any market. After all, where analysts' expectations are increasing, institutional cash often follows. In the last 226 weeks, our weekly list of five plays has outperformed the S&P 500 by 85.7%. >>5 Stocks Poised for Breakouts Without further ado, here's a look at this week's Rocket Stocks. Intel It's been a mixed year for Intel ( INTC). While shares' 20.4% rally would be stunning for a typical year, this year has been anything but typical -- which means that Intel is underperforming the S&P by a pretty big margin right now. But with semiconductor stocks coming off of cyclical lows, Intel could be in store for pretty significant upside up ahead. Here's why. >>3 Stocks Spiking on Big Volume Intel is a cash machine. The $123 billion chipmaker owns 80% of the microprocessor market, a lucrative position that's left INTC as one of the few names in the PC supply chain that's not facing deteriorating margins. Despite its dominance, Intel is working hard to miniaturize its powerful PC chips to work in the mobile market -- a space that's both enjoying very high replacement rates and eating into conventional computer sales.