4 Stocks Hitting 52-Week Highs: MSFT, ALXN, DLTR, LULU

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Shares of these companies hit 52-week highs on Thursday: Microsoft ( MSFT), Alexion Pharmaceuticals ( ALXN), Lululemon Athletica ( LULU), Dollar Tree ( DLTR).

Each of these stocks received buy ratings from TheStreet Ratings.

Microsoft

The software company is handing out trial versions of Windows 8 computers with ARM Holdings ( ARMH) processors to try to better compete with Apple ( AAPL) and its iPad, according to Bloomberg.

"Our thesis on Microsoft remains unchanged, as we believe the stock is only reasonably undervalued at current levels; we don't expect to see much lift until Windows 8 is released and/or Windows Phone shows some traction in the Smartphone market," Wells Fargo analysts wrote in a report on Jan. 20. "We believe multiple expansion is largely predicated on the company making demonstrable inroads in mobile computing."

Shares of Microsoft hit a 52-week high Thursday of $30.80. The stock's 52-week low of $23.65 was set on June 16.

Microsoft has an forward price-to-earnings ratio of 10.23X; the average for software companies is 32.14X. For comparison, Oracle ( ORCL) has a lower forward P/E of 11.21X and Intuit's ( INTU) forward P/E is 17.38X.

Of the 40 analysts who cover Microsoft, 26 rated it a buy. Thirteen analysts gave the software company a hold rating and one rated it a sell.

TheStreet Ratings gives Microsoft an A- grade with a $34.59 price target on the shares. The stock has risen 18.37% year to date.

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Alexion Pharmaceuticals

The biotechnology company Thursday reported fourth-quarter earnings of $48.2 million, up 82% from a profit of $26.5 million in the same period a year earlier.

"We believe Alexion is following a similar pattern of providing conservative and beatable guidance," Piper Jaffray analysts wrote in a Thursday report. "Thus, we remain comfortable with our 2012 estimates, which assume above guidance revenue of $1.12bn (vs. $1.04- $1.07bn) and an in line earnings estimate of $1.71 (vs. $1.60-$1.70), which suggests that spending will likely decrease."

Shares of Alexion hit a 52-week high Thursday of $83.10. The stock's 52-week low of $42.04 was set on Feb. 10, 2011.

Alexion has a forward P/E of 36.62X; the average for biotechnology companies is 31.05X. For comparison, Life Technologies ( LIFE) and United Therapeutics ( UTHR) both have lower forward P/Es of 11.48X and 7.45X respectively.

Seventeen of the 23 analysts who cover the company rated it a buy. Six analysts gave the stock a hold rating.

Alexion gets a B+ grade from TheStreet Ratings with a $102.09 price target on the shares. The stock has increased 12.45% year to date.


Lululemon Athletica

The stock saw a sizable insider exit earlier this week when Dennis Wilson, a director, sold 115,300 shares for $7.5 million.

"As we noted in our December 2 upgrade of lululemon athletica (LULU-NASDAQ)from UNDERWEIGHT to BUY, we think the Company has some of the strongestgrowth prospects in our coverage universe due to its compelling product and uniquestore environment; the 4Q results reinforce our thesis," KeyBanc Capital Markets analysts wrote in a Jan. 11 report.

Shares of Lululemon hit a 52-week high of $65.79 on Thursday. The stock's 52-week low of $36.35 was set on March 2.

Lululemon has a forward P/E of 41.09X; the average for clothing and accessories companies is 26.15X. For comparison, Gildan Activewear ( GIL) has a lower forward P/E of 11.21X.

Of the 23 analysts who cover the company, 13 gave it a buy rating. Nine analysts said the stock is a hold and one rated it a sell.

TheStreet Ratings gives Lululemon a B+ grade and has a $83.41 price target on the shares. The stock has risen 40.85% year to date.

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Whole Foods Market

The supermarket operator reported fiscal first-quarter earnings of $118.3 million, or 65 cents a share, on Wednesday, beating Wall Street's consensus view by a nickel.

"A better than expected 1Q12 appears to be further evidence that Whole Foods ishitting on all cylinders as steady, robust sales meet impressive cost controls andmargin performance," Jefferies analysts wrote in a report Thursday. "With secular trends providing a nice tailwind, we believe Whole Foods will continue its strong sales and earnings growth through FY13 and beyond."

Shares of Whole Foods Market hit a 52-week high of $82.36 on Thursday. The stock's 52-week low of $52.52 was set a year ago.

Whole Foods Market has a forward P/E of 30.65X; the average for its peers is 30.62X. For comparison, Sysco ( SYY) and Kroger ( KR) both have lower forward P/Es of 14.24X and 10.67X respectively.

Fourteen of the 24 analysts who cover the company rated it a buy. Nine gave Whole Foods Market a hold rating and one rated it a sell.

Whole Foods Market gets an A grade from TheStreet Ratings and $99.23 price target. The stock has increased 18.29% year to date.


Dollar Tree

The discounted retailer was initiated with an overweight rating and a $100 price target by JPMorgan on Thursday.

"In our view, DLTR represents a multi-year core portfolio holding withsustainable 20%+ EPS growth driven by a rare combination of (1) top-line (+ traffic &ticket, HSD Sq Ft growth; $50K+ core base), (2) margin expansion (GPM & SG&Adrivers), and (3) balance sheet levers (6.5% FCF yield, 15.5% debt/cap)," JPMorgan analysts wrote in a report Thursday. "Taking a step back, DLTR's investment profile is among the best in retail today given consistency and growth - more than justifying the next leg higher for shares, in our view."

Shares of Dollar Tree hit a 52-week high on Thursday of $86.87. The stock's 52-week low of $48.51 was set on Feb. 23.

Dollar Tree has a forward P/E of 18.14X; the average for specialty retailers is 16.8X. Both Bed Bath & Beyond ( BBBY) and Best Buy ( BBY) have lower forward P/Es of 13.62X and 6.83X respectively.

Fourteen of the 24 analysts who cover the stock rated it a buy. Ten analysts gave Dollar Tree a hold rating.

TheStreet Ratings gives Dollar Tree an A grade and has a $112.91 price target on the shares. The stock has increased 4.43% year to date.

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-- Written by Alexandra Zendrian in New York.

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