BALTIMORE ( Stockpickr) -- A slight pullback in stocks last week gave pause to the market's broad-based rally, paring 2011's performance down to 2.04% -- a nonetheless favorable start to the first three weeks of the new year. Earnings season continues to be the driving force in sentiment for stocks as Wall Street digests the latest market data from reporting companies, but a few key news items next week could set the tone for stocks.The first is President Obama's State of the Union address on Tuesday night, followed by a Fed rate decision on Wednesday afternoon and consumer confidence numbers on Friday. But impactful events aside, as usual we're turning to our weekly Rocket Stocks list to eke out maximum performance out of the market. For the uninitiated, Rocket Stocks are our weekly list of companies with short-term gain catalysts and longer-term growth potential. In the last 88 weeks, our Rocket Stocks have beaten the S&P 500 by 77.96%. Related: 3 Stocks That Could Rebound in 2011 This week, we'll continue our trend of looking at stocks with rising analyst expectations. On Wall Street, expectations can mean everything -- and stocks with rising expectations often benefit from increased buying pressures from institutions and retail investors alike. To find them, I run a quantitative screen that seeks out stocks with a combination of analyst upgrades and positive earnings surprises. Here's a look at this week's potential plays. With earnings slated to be released tomorrow, analysts are turning their attention to health care giant Johnson & Johnson ( JNJ). While Johnson & Johnson's stock performance has been somewhat tepid in the last year, the stock's standing as a bellwether for the health care industry makes it a popular choice for investors seeking blue chip exposure and a sizable dividend payout. In fact, the stock's underperformance could make for a strong buying opportunity amid improving fundamentals. Johnson & Johnson owns a diverse portfolio of product offerings that encompass everything from over-the-counter consumer products to medical devices and pharmaceuticals. And the company holds the top-three spot in nearly every business it operates. That market domination has helped Johnson & Johnson build impressive coffers -- the company's balance sheet is net cash positive and has provided the company with the highest credit rating (and lowest cost of capital) in the industry.
Twitter and become a fan on Facebook. At the time of publication, author had no positions in stocks mentioned. Jonas Elmerraji, based out of Baltimore, 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.