BALTIMORE (Stockpickr) -- Another action-packed week of earnings lies ahead, prompting investors to brace themselves for the latest bout of fundamental data. The coming week is equally busy on the economic front, with a handful of major economic data releases slated for each of the next five trading days. This week's updates could give market participants a hint as to whether we'll be able to see higher ground in the broad market in 2011 -- a burning question given the sizable rally stocks have enjoyed in the last couple of months.
This week, we'll attempt to get maximum gains from the market by turning to a new list of Rocket Stocks.
For the uninitiated, Rocket Stocks are our weekly list of companies with short-term gain catalysts and longer-term growth potential. In the last 66 weeks, Rocket Stocks have outperformed the
As with the past few weeks, we'll focus this week on stocks benefiting from rising analyst expectations. To find them, I run a quantitative screen that picks out companies with a recent series of analyst upgrades and a history of outperforming the Street's expectations. It's a methodology that's worked well for us in the past -- and one that should continue to serve us well for the last week of October.
Without further ado, here's a look at
The last few years have been rough for
, a $13.1 billion regional banking power that's based in Atlanta and focuses its business on the East Coast.
The company's profitability has been shaken in the years following 2008, and SunTrust is only now starting to appear profitable again. That said, with last week's earnings surprise (profits of 17 cents per share, vs. an expected penny loss), analysts are starting to pay attention to this stock once more.
SunTrust's nearly 1,700 branches stretch from Florida all the way up to Maryland. That geographic focus in the South traditionally comes with some of the biggest margins in regional banking -- but of late it's also come with some of the worst loan write-offs in the business. Even though the firm's 6.9% third-quarter margins were well short of what I'd expect from a healthy Southeastern bank, SunTrust's return to profitability in the latest quarter is a very good sign.
Now that this firm is starting to appear on institutional buy-side analysts' radar, buying pressure among mutual funds could help spur a move higher in shares of this firm. For investors who aren't risk-averse, we're betting on an uptick in share prices this week.
Even if you're not familiar with
, you're likely familiar with the firm's products. With Oster, Coleman, Mr. Coffee and more than 100 other brands in its product portfolio, Jarden is one of the leading conglomerates in the consumer space.
That's a fact that hasn't been lost on the company's shareholders. So far in 2010, their stakes in Jarden are up 7.46%, eclipsing the S&P 500's return by more than 100 basis points.
And there's significantly more upside in this stock. Jarden benefits from one of my favorite attributes as a value investor: It's boring. Despite leading market position in many of Jarden's brands, the company's products aren't nearly as exciting as offerings from higher-profile firms. As a result, it's much easier for Jarden to trade at a discount to fair value. Couple that with the fact that Jarden has seen unusually soft sales in the last couple of years, and the potential for seeing this stock mispriced is even better.
But that appears to be changing. Following an earnings surprise back in August and a number of analyst upgrades, this stock could be catching the attention of investors before year-end. And I'm not just talking about stock investors. Takeover rumors were running wild back in May, and more news on that front could mean instant upside in this stock.
>>Who Owns Jarden?:
isn't your typical electric utility. The $6.9 billion firm is a holding company for a handful of regulated electric and natural gas utilities that provide service primarily in the Midwest. But that's where similarities between Ameren and its competitors end. With nearly double-digit margins and a hefty 5.34% dividend yield, this company should be on investors' radar this week.
The majority of Ameren's business comes from its rate-regulated utility business, but with regulatory risks more prevalent than ever, the company is working hard to diversify its revenue by pushing toward the merchant generation business. It's also one of the most vocal regulated utilities in operation, with a penchant for proactively lobbying to keep its rates competitive with commodity prices.
Ameren's increasing profile only helps the investment case for this stock right now. With institutional ownership of 60.4% as of the latest quarter, fund managers have plenty of room to pick up shares of this impressive utility play.
For more stocks that made this week's cut, including
, check out
-- Written by Jonas Elmerraji in Baltimore.
Follow Stockpickr on
and become a fan on
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.