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BALTIMORE ( Stockpickr) -- March is off to a difficult start as economic fundamentals -- such as job numbers, home sales and concerns about Greece's sovereign debt -- weigh on investors coming into this week. Still, with February's jobs report slated for Friday, there's an opportunity afoot for the market to impress us, particularly given the diminished expectations of late.

To make the most of the market, whichever way it's headed, we're turning once again to the Rocket Stocks. 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.

2010's been a slow year to start for our Rocket Stocks plays, which are currently more or less pacing the broad market. But over a longer period -- the last 32 weeks -- Rocket Stocks are outperforming the S&P 500 by 45.63%. That brings our total performance since last July to 63.08%.

And this week, we'll try to take a step ahead of the S&P with five more earnings plays. Here's a look at this week's list.

Car part retailing giant AutoZone ( AZO) announces earnings on Tuesday. The company, which operates more than 4,000 stores in North America, has been a strong performer this year, gaining 4.96% since the first trading day in January. Strong numbers this week could be the key to a surge in share prices for long-side investors, a group we'll be joining at Monday's open.

AutoZone has been benefiting in a big way from the moderate uptick in consumer spending in the last 18 months. With consumers shelling out cash to update aging automobiles but not willing to make a new car purchase, the $200 million auto aftermarket business is recovering well. AutoZone has the biggest network of stores and as a result benefits disproportionately from the improvement.

With a developing presence in Mexico, the company's growth prospects are phenomenal right now. Analysts are hoping for earnings of $2.32 per share, a number well below last quarter's results. We're counting on another winning release on Tuesday.

Staples ( SPLS) is one of the more unexpected appearances on the Rocket Stocks list to date. The office supply retailer has faced serious economic headwinds as companies tightened their belts on supply expenditures and job losses further diminished demand for Staples' product offerings.

Still, as one of the biggest online retailers in the world, Staples is a perennial retail power that isn't going anywhere any time soon. The company's margins remain significantly higher than its nearest competitors', and the summer 2008 acquisition of Corporate Express should increase high-margin private-label sales to companies in a meaningful way once economic tides turn for the better.

Staples announces earnings on Monday. We'll take a slightly riskier bullish approach on this stock ahead of numbers today.

There are few stocks out there like diversified entertainment company Disney ( DIS). Disney has its hand in the whole spectrum of entertainment businesses, from theme parks to films to network television. But several factors make the stock particularly interesting right now.

One of Disney's strongest attributes is its ability to keep its brand in tact despite a wide-reaching corporate tree that includes the likes of Pixar, ABC and ESPN. The company controls some of the league-leading entertainment names, and it continues to have room to grow in one of the toughest businesses out there.

That's something that's caught analyst attention lately. Disney has been enjoying a stream of rising analyst expectations, a good sign for investors right now. With the company's annual analyst meeting slated for next week, the potential for a share hiking catalyst is present for our trade.

For more stocks that made this week's cut, including Costco ( COST) and Del Monte Foods ( DLM), check out the Rocket Stocks portfolio at Stockpickr.

-- Written by Jonas Elmerraji in Baltimore.


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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.