Updated from 6:51 a.m. EST

Even in bear markets, the best strategy often is to find volatile stocks and trade them accordingly. Each week's Rocket Stocks column is meant to bring you such names, especially for momentum traders looking to profit from short-term market catalysts.

Before we look at the Rocket Stocks for the Week of March 3-7 -- which includes names like Goldman Sachs ( GS) and Merck ( MRK) -- let's review how last week's Rocket Stocks fared.
  • Plains Exploration (PXP): Up as much as 10.5% but finishing the week with a tempered 4.7% gain. The company reported earnings of 83 cents a share, beating the 69-cent Wall Street estimate.
  • Fluor (FLR): Up as much as 9.4% but ending the week with a 4.7% gain. The company raised its 2008 guidance.
  • Cisco Systems (CSCO): Up nearly 7% at one point but closing out the week with a 3.7% gain. The company presented at the Goldman Sachs Technology Investment Symposium midweek.
  • GulfMark Offshore (GLF): Up more than 8% during the week but ending it up 2.1%. The company reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter adjusted earnings, beating the average analyst estimate by 66 cents a share.
  • Pioneer Drilling (PDC): Up as much as 10% but ending the week just 1% higher. The company posted a rise in quarterly profits.
  • Mirant (MIR): Flat for the week; the company raised its outlook on 2008 adjusted EBITA.
  • Southern Union (SUG): Down 7.6% on the week after guiding in line for 2008.
  • NutriSystem (NTRI): Down 8.9% on the week after issuing a disappointing '08 forecast.
  • Foster Wheeler (FWLT): Down 13.3% on the week after reporting a weaker-than-expected quarter.
  • Marvell Technology (MRVL): Up 7.2% at one point but ending the week down nearly 1%. The company, which is scheduled to report fourth-quarter earnings after Thursday's close, makes this week's Rocket Stocks as well.

Now let's look at a few of the picks from this week's Rocket Stocks portfolio.

First up this week is an earnings play: Basic Energy Services ( BAS). The Texas-based company, which provides well-site services to oil and natural-gas drilling companies within the U.S., is scheduled to report fourth-quarter earnings after the market close Monday and host a conference call the next morning to discuss the results.

Basic Energy is also involved in the pressure pumping business, which, according to Halliburton ( HAL), has proved strong lately. Basic Energy has a forward price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of 10. Given the sector's strong performance, Basic Energy could climb on any upside surprise.

Investors may also do well to keep an eye on small-cap stock Harvard Bioscience ( HBIO). This company, which develops and manufactures a range of medical tools for use in research, posted amazing but largely overlooked quarterly results on Thursday.

Fourth-quarter revenue was up 13% and adjusted earnings per share rose 19%. The company also issued robust forward guidance. In 2008, Harvard Bioscience expects to launch its newly acquired Panlab products into U.S. markets and sign a new product contract with GE Healthcare.

Harvard Bioscience also raised its EPS growth estimates by 10% -- from 15%-20% growth to 20%-25% per year. Back in December, the company rejected an unsolicited $5-per-share takeout bid from Skystone Advisors, a small private-equity firm. The stock closed Friday at $4.59.

Also worth looking at this week is PetSmart ( PETM), a retailer that also provides services in a wide market of animal-care products, including grooming and bathing as well as veterinary care services. The company is scheduled to report fourth-quarter earnings after the closing bell Wednesday.

With the stock trading near its 52-week low and a forward P/E ratio of 11.5 as well as a large stock buyback, PetSmart looks cheap here. PetSmart could rally on any earnings surprise, as its smaller-cap competitor PetMed Express ( PETS) did on Jan. 22.

For the rest of this week's picks and more detailed analysis, check out the Rocket Stocks for the Week of March 3-7 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.

Please note that due to factors including low market capitalization and/or insufficient public float, we consider Harvard Bioscience to be a small-cap stock. You should be aware that such stocks are subject to more risk than stocks of larger companies, including greater volatility, lower liquidity and less publicly available information, and that postings such as this one can have an effect on their stock prices.
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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