Warren Buffett's 10 Best Investments for 2011

By Jon C. Ogg, 24/7 Wall St.

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Investors have tried for years to follow the strategy of Warren Buffett, considered by many to be the greatest investor in history. That's ironic given how little he seems to care about ups and downs of Berkshire Hathaway's ( BRK.A) share price and quarterly earnings.

But now that earnings season is behind us, 24/7 Wall St wanted to see which stocks currently offer the most value for investors who like to mimic Buffett's investment strategies, which are similar to those investors use when buying a business. Buffett is a deep value investor whose time frame for payback is "forever."

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Here are the top positions with the most upside from Buffett's stock portfolio. In order to qualify at the current time, the Buffett positions had more than a 10% hurdle to rise before reaching the current target objective. When we ran a similar screen of Buffett stocks earlier in the year there was actually a hurdle closer to 30%. That is what happens after many rallies. As always, the full Buffett and Berkshire holdings are here.

In our analysis, we have included prices based as of Dec. 1, 2010, the consensus price targets on each along with the upside, we added in color on what may help or hinder the implied upside, shown what each have for dividend yields, and compared each with their 52-week trading range and other older historic highs.

1) American Express Company ( AXP) has an implied upside of about 14.5% to consensus target of $50.66. JPMorgan just set its target at $50 with an overweight rating on Dec. 1. The current dividend yield is roughly 1.7%. Berkshire holds $151.6 million shares. AmEx has benefited from shrinking customer delinquencies and charge-offs. Another strength here is that American Express tends to serve a higher-end market than many other credit companies. Its 52-week trading range is $36.60 to $49.19.

2) Bank of America ( BAC) has a consensus target is $18.36, implying a 66% upside from its $11.04 price. The target price also under the near-term highs as a 52-week range is $10.91 to $19.86. Before you get excited about it being about 1% from lows, there are some serious issues to consider.

While BofA has denied that it is "the big bank targeted by WikiLeaks," there is no way to know whether that is true. BofA is also Public Enemy #1 when it comes to the mess in the mortgage market. That situation may take years to solve and its outcome could be devastating for BofA shareholders. If and when banks get to resume dividend hikes, BofA is likely to be one of the last to be able to do so. Investors should consider that upside price target something that will come down through time as the world sits in December 2010.

3) Bank of New York Mellon ( BK) trades about $27.35 and that gives an implied upside of more than 20.0% to the $32.93 consensus price target. The financial services firm is one of America's oldest banks and also happens to be one of Buffett's newest and smaller holdings at 1,992,759 shares. Its business model shielded it from much of the financial meltdown woes seen at other banks. In fact, it lost less than 30% of its value. It is no wonder that Buffett had a "forever" strategy here and its 1.3% dividend yield should be one of the first to pop when regulators allow it. That $32.93 consensus price target compares to a 52-week range of $23.78 to $32.65.

4) Gannett ( GCI)trades around $13.49, giving an implied upside of roughly 32% to the consensus target of $17.86. This position has been chopped down considerably. The company is the largest newspaper publisher with operations in print, broadcast and digital. Buffett has lowered the stake in the company as the media woes of yesteryear are likely to persist for years. Gannett, though, may feel like a wild card. Despite declining earnings and revenues, Gannett trades at about 6-times forward earnings. The dividend yield here is only about 1.2% and that target price of $17.86 is under the recent highs as the 52-week trading range is $9.63 to $19.69.

5) General Electric ( GE) has more implied upside than most conglomerates to consensus targets. Buffett's 7.77 million share stake is also grossly understated because he did a large preferred financing when the market was in meltdown-mode. At $16.20, GE has an implied upside of 26.5% to the $20.50 price target. GE is still at the beginning stages of a turnaround with a higher dividend yield indicated around 3.0% now and share buybacks coming back on line. GE also has the most room for a scaling down of much of its financial operations, its current media partial divesting of NBC Universal and potential asset sales and spin-offs ahead.

The company continues to focus on growth areas such as health care, energy, alternative energy, and engines. CEO Jeff Immelt is still making good on his forecast from our exclusive interview earlier in the year of making selective acquisitions. That $20.50 objective target is also above the 52-week trading range of $13.75 to $19.70. This may actually be an under-weighted investment for Berkshire Hathaway.

6) Kraft Foods ( KFT) is Buffett's big food gamble. He also has trimmed it after saying the Cadbury deal was too expensive. With shares at $30.65, there is an implied upside of over 14% to the consensus price target objective of $35.06. Kraft is not overly expensive as it trades at about 14-times forward earnings expectations. The good thing about this DJIA component is that it offers investors a dividend yield of about 3.8%. The target price above $35 is one that stands out because the 52-week range is $26.40 to $32.67. The last time shares were above $35 was in 2006 and it was 2002 when shares traded in a range of $35 to $40.

7) Moody's ( MCO) is another position that may feel like a misnomer as Buffett has trimmed the stake down to about 28.8 million shares. At $26.97 the implied upside to the consensus target of $30.07 is 11.5%. This is also one position that is at the lower-end of the ten top upside picks and the risk-reward to much of the Moody's business models makes this a puzzling pick. We have even noted that it is one stock Buffett should unload. Still, this made the Buffett screen and it trades at about 14-times current year earnings estimates. The dividend yield is about 1.6% and shares have already been above the consensus price target as its 52-week range is $18.50 to $31.04.

8) Procter & Gamble ( PG) is shocking to see as a Buffett stock because the consumer products giant generally does not see huge share price swings. At $62.15, there is an implied upside of more than 14% to the $70.97 objective price target. This is one safe defensive stock that also offers growth and the 3.1% dividend has continued to grow and is expected to keep growing.

In-store promotion by P&G and by peers depressed margins and that is likely what has kept P&G as having more upside than we would have guessed. Valuations at 15-times earnings also feel close to full, so it is earnings growth and dividend growth that investors have to look for here. Its 52-week high is $65.00, but the stock was above $70.00 back in 2007 and 2008.

9) United Parcel Service ( UPS) trades around $71.55, giving it an implied upside of 12.6% to its consensus price target of $80.71. What is interesting is that UPS also hit a 52-week high of $71.90 just on Dec. 1. The company also trades at a premium valuation at more than 17-times expected 2011 earnings. One contributing factor to higher guidance is that it has exceeded estimates and raised guidance in 2010. That $80+ target is also significant in that the last time UPS shares were up there was in early 2006. This was a surprise to see in the screening process, but that is what makes a ballgame.

10) Wells Fargo ( WFC) has long been called "Buffett's Favorite Bank." With a 336+ million share stake that still keeps getting larger and larger, Buffett is putting his money where his mouth is. At $27.40, there is just about 29% implied upside to the consensus price target of $35.47. Over the last year, shares have traded in a range of $23.02 to $34.25. The current yield is a mere 0.7%, so no one is accumulating wealth via quarterly payouts. The current "have vs. have-not" field in the banking sector may take away some of the upside here, but Wells Fargo is likely one of the banks that will be able to return to paying a higher dividend again when regulators allow it.

Runner-up in the United States was Wal-Mart ( WMT) at $54.69, leaving an implied upside of 10.9% to the $60.64 consensus target. Had we limited financial stocks to only two or three of the top upside candidates in the Berkshire Hathaway portfolio, the world's largest retailer would have made it. Still, shares are at the higher-end of a very long trading range and Wal-Mart ended up winning less than many would have guessed during the Great Recession.

Two pharmaceutical stocks were screened out because the pool of analysts with formal U.S.-dollar price targets were too small. They are also ADR shares to boot. GlaxoSmithKline ( GSK) at $38.48 has an implied upside of more than 19% to a $45.97 consensus target; and Sanofi-Aventis ( SNY) also suffered the same with too few analysts covering it despite its $31.50 price having an implied upside of more than 22% to its consensus target of $38.73. If too few data points are available, it is harder to count on the data.

Berkshire Hathaway trades closer to $120,700 per A-share and that has an implied upside of about 8.8% to the consensus target of $131,333.00. While that is lower than the cut-off hurdle of 10% upside above, we would caution that the consensus price objective is also based on less than a full handful of analyst estimates.

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-- Written by Jon C. Ogg of 24/7 Wall St.

This commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet guest contributor program. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of TheStreet or its management.

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