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5. Qwest Communications ( Q) serves about 9.7 million phone lines across its 14-state territory. It is a provider of local- and long-distance phone services to households, businesses and other carriers, which generates more than two-thirds of total revenue. Qwest also claims about 900,000 wireless resale customers and 3 million high-speed Internet-access customers.

Qwest agreed to a merger with CenturyTel in April, which expanded its long-distance footprint nationwide and is seen as helping the company's already strong cash flow. In the third quarter, adjusted free cash flow was $554 million, bringing the total to $1.5 billion this year. It projects 2010 operating earnings of $4.4 billion.

Outlook: Shares are up 92% this year to $7.63. Qwest's five-year earnings growth forecast by analysts is 5%, versus 11.3% for its industry.

Of the analysts that follow the firm, seven rate it "buy," one "outperform" and nine "hold," according to FactSet.


4. Huntington Bancshares ( HBAN) is an Ohio-based regional bank with $50 billion in assets and more than 600 branches, making it one of the Midwest's largest banks.

Retail banking accounts for about 80% of the company's operating income. The rest is split between auto financing and private banking and insurance. The company received a government bailout and wrote off its troubled loans since then. Early this month, it announced its plans to repay the $1.4 billion it holds in Troubled Asset Relief Program funds, which will require it to issue $1.2 billion in stock and debt, including $920 million in new common stock.

Outlook: Huntington Bancshares is up 92% this year to $6.92, including a 20% jump in the past month, indicating the shares may be gathering steam as investors flock back to the financial sector and bet on the survivors. Keefe, Bruyette & Woods analyst Jefferson Harralson has the company on his recently released list of potential acquirers of other banks.

Of the 22 analysts that follow the company, nine rate it "buy," two "outperform," seven "hold," one "underperform" and three "sell," according to FactSet.

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