BALTIMORE (Stockpickr) -- The market is fundamentally primed to go higher in the coming week, with euro zone debt fears quelled -- at least temporarily -- by Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou's announcement that the country's financial obligations are met through mid-March, with increased M&A activity on Wall Street, and with Fed Chairman Bernanke's semi-annual testimony to congress on monetary policy slated for Wednesday.
Still, the future for stocks is far from set in stone. A technical resistance level just under 1110 for the
could prove to be a challenging if the fundamental levels don't live up to investors' expectations.
Regardless of the black clouds on the investment horizon, we're going to position ourselves as best as possible this week with our Rocket Stock plays.
Rocket Stocks, our weekly list of beaten-down stocks with near-term growth catalysts and long-term growth potential, seek to separate the cream from the investing crop. And during earnings season, we typically turn to pre-earnings plays for a shot at speculative gains.
Our plays fared well last week, albeit not quite as well as the market's 3.13% overall bounce back. Our five trades made just shy of 2% last week, bringing our performance over the last 31 weeks to 64.80% -- beating out the S&P index by 46.85% over that time.
Here's a look at
$38 billion retailer
announces earnings on Tuesday, a move that should have the attention of plenty of analysts given the focus on consumer numbers this year. And with the Winter Olympics currently underway in Vancouver, the company is likely seeing a major sales boost thanks to its relationship with gold-medal-winning snowboarder Shaun White, whose exclusive clothing and video game brands are featured at the store chain.
That sales hike is much needed right now. Like other retailers, Target has suffered from sliding sales amid the recession as consumers eschewed its higher-end branding for less expensive competitors. Target's biggest advantage right now is that brand. The company has managed to carve out a consistently profitable niche by focusing its marketing at a more upmarket crowd than the likes of
While Target's growth will likely continue to be hampered by pared back consumer budgets, if the company is able to beat expectations, shareholders will be rewarded in kind. We're betting on that outperformance this week.
posted its fourth-quarter earnings last week, beating sales and earnings estimates despite a drop in margins to end 2009. The Roomba, a self-directed robotic vacuum cleaner, has proven incredibly successful since it was released in 2002, gaining a mid-single-digit share of the industry's sales.
The company is best known for Roomba, but that's not the only piece of the iRobot's product pipeline of consumer and military robots that has investors excited right now. From the gutter cleaning Looj to the pool cleaning Verro robot, the company is selling consumers on the idea of putting robots to work at simple household tasks. And that autonomy has also caught the attention of the U.S. military, which is interested in replacing humans with robots in dangerous scenarios.
Core military contracts in 2010 could unleash significant top-line growth in the coming year for this innovative company -- and well-deserved gains for the company's shareholders. Consider picking up shares this week to capitalize on the post-earnings sentiment.
While this week's first two plays are set up to capitalize on this week's apparent bullish sentiment, we can't forget about the potential for a technical bounce lower in the next couple of trading days. That's why we're turning to
for some downside protection.
Despite significant deterioration in the world's economic fundamentals in 2008 and 2009, McDonald's managed to deliver superior business performance as consumers traded down their diets for quick, inexpensive fast-food offerings. The company's market position and robust Dollar Menu gave it stronger performance than the competition. And as the economy improves this year, McDonald's stands to continue its winning streak with the introduction of a number of premium product offerings.
Consider picking up shares to take advantage of this week's movement.
For more stocks that made this week's cut, including
, check out the
-- Written by Jonas Elmerraji in Baltimore.
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.