BALTIMORE (Stockpickr) -- Don't think for a minute that that this shortened trading week is going to be uneventful. The saga in stocks is continuing this week. U.S. stocks are starting things off significantly lower this morning as traders come back to their desks from the Labor Day market holiday.
The big news to kick-start the week came from Europe, where major equity indices, such as the
Euro Stoxx 50
, saw slides of greater than 5% Monday on news that Switzerland was planning to cap the exchange rate on the franc. It's a major development considering the franc's status as a flight-to-quality favorite among investors.
But even though this morning's move is threatening to push the
to retest Friday's lows, there's a way to skirt much of the selling -- it's all about the Rocket Stocks.
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 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.
It's a strategy that's been working out pretty well. In the last 118 weeks, Rocket Stocks have outperformed the S&P 500 by 85.3%. With that, here's a look at
is one of the largest consumer product companies in the world, with offerings that range from dental care products to shampoo, deodorant and pet food. Dental care is definitely Colgate's bread and butter -- the firm controls around 45% of the total market, even in emerging markets where other major U.S. brands are only starting to get a meaningful position in consumers' medicine cabinets. To call Colgate a U.S. brand, though, would be a bit unfair; today, a full three-quarters of sales come from abroad.
Like other manufacturers of consumer products, Colgate has been challenged in recent years as consumers become more selective of which products get hold of their purse strings. Even though that's had an impact on margins lately, it's not as likely to be a major issue for the company -- customers are much less likely to switch brands for toothpaste than they are for other products.
Strong analyst sentiment is only part of the reason that Colgate-Palmolive looks strong this week; another factor to consider is the firm's 2.6% dividend yield. While 2.6% isn't quite the payout it once was (given the smashed-down equity valuations we're currently seeing), it's still a nice fundamental backstop to CL's share price in September.
Colgate, one of TheStreet Ratings'
, was featured recently in "
United Parcel Service
United Parcel Service
is another name that made the cut this week, beating out peers that have been pressured by macroeconomic headwinds eating away at returns. While UPS is also inseparably tied to the economy, operating at a much higher level when economic motors are whirring and customers are shipping packages, the firm's diversified geographic footprint means that it's not tied solely to a shaky recovery here in the U.S.
UPS delivers more than 15 million packages a day through its network of more than 100,000 vehicles and 500 aircraft. That's a set of statistics that makes UPS weigh in as the biggest delivery network in the world. In this business, size matters, and UPS' network affords the firm net margins that tip the scales near the double digit mark -- a level of profitability that outshines the likes of
Once again, this is a stock that is putting those profits to work for shareholders. UPS' 3.17% dividend yield makes the firm a reasonable core income holding. With analyst sentiment on the upswing, we're betting on shares.
UPS, one of TheStreet Ratings'
, is a holding in
2011 has been a challenging year thus far for
, North and South America's largest supplier of industrial gasses. Shares of the $30 billion firm are essentially flat on the year, a reversal of fortunes from the double-digit gains that shareholders were enjoying as recently as July. Still, there's upside in this stock, and we're betting on shares to start the week.
Praxair's league-leading status in North and South America is only part of the story. The firm also has a considerable gas business in Europe, and a presence in Asia, two growth areas for the firm. Praxair's gasses are used in everything from health care to industrial manufacturing, providing client diversification that matches the diversification in Praxair's geographic footprint.
Because the capital costs of Praxair's business (namely gas cylinders) have incredibly quick repayment periods, the company is able to collect sizable margins from the $10 billion in revenues that it brings in annually. With extremely high customer stickiness and limited exposure to consumer sentiment, this stock has additional upside this year despite pressures on equities.
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reach in the U.S. has become a joke -- the notion of a Starbucks location on every street corner is the popular stereotype, and in some areas, it's not far from the truth. While the firm's omnipresence may be funny, saturation in the coffee business has been a major concern for executives trying to create growth in the industry they pioneered. To find it, the company has been taking on a two-pronged approach.
The first prong is a push overseas to emerging markets such as China, where a burgeoning aspirational middle class is clamoring to replicate the consumption patterns that made Starbucks' locations so successful in the West. The second prong is the brand's entrance into the grocery aisle, a move that is every bit as exciting for the chain's top line as international expansion could be.
Major changes have been sweeping Starbucks' retail offerings -- the firm cut distribution ties with
( KFT) in November, opting instead to keep a bigger piece of the business for itself. New products, such as Starbucks' K-Cup offerings for the wildly popular Keurig brewers, are expected to boost EPS materially in the coming quarters. Even though this coffee chain may be on every street in the U.S., there's reason to bet on continued upside in shares. With analyst sentiment moving higher, we're betting on this Rocket Stock.
Starbucks, one of TheStreet Ratings'
, shows up on a recent list of
Aptly named automotive and industrial parts maker
has had considerable headwinds in the last few years, watching revenues fall in fiscal 2009, then stagnate last year as industrial production slowly started to ramp up. Now it's under pressure again in 2011.
But Wall Street may have underestimated the earnings power of this stock. GPC's Napa brand sports 5,000 auto parts stores, a business that's actually been buoyed by recessionary headwinds. As credit tightens, consumers are opting to repair their existing cars rather than buy new ones -- increased aftermarket sales are one side effect of that trend (an incredibly strong used car market is another).
While autoparts account for around half of revenues, industrial, electrical and office products make up the other half -- and they've been growing slowly to pre-recession levels in spite of the shakiness of the economic recovery.
GPC's 3.4% dividend yield provides a nice fundamental backstop for shares this week.
GPC is one of TheStreet Ratings'
To see this week's sentiment plays in action, check out
-- Written by Jonas Elmerraji in Baltimore.
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At the time of publication, author had no positions in stocks mentioned.
Jonas Elmerraji is the editor and portfolio manager of the Rhino Stock Report, a free investment advisory that returned 15% in 2008. He is a contributor to numerous financial outlets, including Forbes and Investopedia, and has been featured in Investor's Business Daily, in Consumer's Digest and on MSNBC.com.