Updated from 6:04 a.m. EST

Despite the recent spike in market volatility, picking stocks that have meaningful catalysts ahead of them is still often a good short-term investment strategy to follow.

For starters, some traders love to anticipate moves before they happen. They buy into a stock before it reports earnings in hopes that it goes up on a great quarter. However, others like to wait until the company reports to get a better picture of the company's future.

Both strategies are acceptable and used all the time on Wall Street. The key is to have some sort of fundamental or technical thesis that supports your position. Each week in my Rocket Stocks article, I look ahead and try to find the stocks that I believe could move substantially in the coming week.

Before we look at this week's Rocket Stocks portfolio, however, let's review how last week's picks fared.

  • Nymex : Up 20.9% on the week as a pure snapback play.
  • IntercontinentalExchange (ICE): This pure snapback play soared as much as 20% and ended the week up 12.8%.
  • CSX (CSX): Up as much as 17.3% and ending the week up 11.7% after reporting a solid earnings beat. Fourth-quarter net income rose to $491 million, or $1.86 a share, compared with analyst estimates of a per-share profit of $1.77.
  • Jacobs Engineering (JEC): Up 14.4% on the week after beating fiscal first-quarter earnings estimates and raising 2008 guidance.
  • Dow Chemical (DOW): Up 9.9% on the week. CEO Andrew Liveris said that he did not see a global recession in 2008.
  • Cabot (CBT): Up 9.6% for the week despite a drop in fiscal first-quarter earnings.
  • PetMed Express (PETS): Up as much as 15.4% and ending the week up 7% after the company beat earnings estimates. Third-quarter net income rose to $4.4 million, or 18 cents a share, vs. analysts' estimate of 14 cents a share.
  • Interactive Brokers Group (IBKR): Up 5.5% on the week after reporting record trading volume in its online brokerage account for the year.
  • Tellabs : Up 5.3% on the week.
  • eBay (EBAY - Get Report): Up just 2.8% for the week. The company offered weak guidance for 2008 and a change in the chief executive position.

Now let's look at this week's Rocket Stocks.

First up is Tractor Supply ( TSCO - Get Report), which is set to report earnings on Wednesday. The retail chain caters to farm and ranch needs, like animal products, hardware and tools.

Tractor Supply is also a play on the cold weather that has finally hit the country this winter. Last year CEO Jim Wright said, "We generated stronger-than-expected sales during the first quarter. Our team executed well at the store level and took advantage of the cold weather opportunity." With the massive amounts of snow hitting the Midwest and the Northeast in a deep freeze, look for Tractor to beat earnings.

Tractor Supply also has a forward price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of 12 with quarterly revenue growth of 12.5% and a short position of 10%.

Another name worth looking at is YRC Worldwide ( YRCW - Get Report), which reports fourth-quarter earnings on Monday. Shares of this trucking company have been hit hard. Down more than 60% off its 52-week high on rising oil and a slowing economy, the stock now offers a good trade into earnings.

Last week, CEO Bill Zollars offered some bullish comments, and Stifel Nicolaus analyst John Larkin also upgraded the sector. Larkin pointed out that "some truckers will likely benefit from international growth of container trade in the next one or two years." Larkin also said that a slowdown in the U.S. economy is not expected to affect growth.

Money inflows are now showing that investors are dipping their toes into the trucking space, and I believe YRC Worldwide could benefit. YRC Worldwide also has a short position of 20%, which increases its chances of rallying on any positive news.

Other names I also like coming into this week are beaten-down tech stock EMC ( EMC), which I believe is due for a run, and baby boomer play Zimmer Holdings ( ZMH) as well as Cemex ( CX - Get Report), McDonald's ( MCD - Get Report), Verizon ( VZ - Get Report) and Burlington Northern Santa Fe For more detailed analyses and the rest of this week's picks, check out the Rocket Stocks for the Week of Jan. 28-Feb. 1 at Stockpickr.com.

For more detailed analysis and the rest of this week's picks, check out the Rocket Stocks for the Week of Jan. 28-Feb. 1 at Stockpickr.com.

As always, to find the snapbacks and potential breakouts on a regular basis, check out these Stockpickr portfolios, which I use in my own research each week:
  • Today's Hot List: This daily list is a must-view every midday to see what stocks are making the biggest moves and why.
  • Always check the Biggest Percentage Losers, a list of stocks that lost big the day before, because they can snap back hard.

    When you check this list on Stockpickr, you can see which stocks are owned by the quality hedge funds and mutual funds. Pay attention to those. They will be buying at the lower prices, so you should be also.
  • Ditto for the 52-week-low list. You must check the above two lists every day if you hope to find volatile stocks.
  • Biotech Short Squeezes: Dendreon (DNDN) and others can often be found in this category.
  • Stocks Rising on Unusual Volume: These are potential breakout stocks.
  • Stockpickr's System Trades of the Day: These are trades triggering that day in various back tested trading systems we've developed.
  • Stocks With Unusual Option Activity: Perhaps someone knows something?
  • Latest Activist Situations: These are beaten-down stocks that hedge funds are accumulating shares of and demanding change in. Believe me, these hedge funds piggyback each other. And once they start rocking the boat, things happen quickly. This should be on your must-view list.

One final place to frequent is the Answers section on Stockpickr, where ideas such as those presented in this article are thrown around daily.

At the time of publication, Altucher and/or his fund had no positions in stocks mentioned, although positions may change at any time.

James Altucher is president of Stockpickr LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of TheStreet.com and part of its network of Web properties, and a managing partner at Formula Capital, an alternative asset management firm that runs a fund of hedge funds. He is also a weekly columnist for the Financial Times and the author of Trade Like a Hedge Fund, Trade Like Warren Buffett and SuperCa$h. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Altucher appreciates your feedback; click here to send him an email.

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