NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - Shares of the following stocks hit 52-week highs on Friday: Philip Morris International ( PM), Whole Foods Market ( WFM), Priceline.com ( PCLN) and Ascena Retail ( ASNA). Each of the stocks is rated buy at TheStreet Ratings.
Philip Morris International Shares of Philip Morris International hit a 52-week high Friday of $84.46. The stock's 52-week low of $60.45 was set on Oct. 4. "Novel, relevant product introductions and innovative line extensions should continue to drive PM's momentum, particularly in the Asian market," Wells Fargo analysts wrote in a Feb. 23 report. "In Japan, PM views its 28.2% share in Q4 as its 'base share' and has new product launches planned throughout 2012 to build on momentum in that market. Innovative Marlboro line extensions have also been an area of focus, esp. around menthol products in the growing Asian menthol segment. Also, PM noted the potential in key Asian markets; Indonesia, Philippines and Japan due to growing adult smoking populations and increased economic prospects. Furthermore, we are encouraged by Marlboro's new brand architecture which continues to drive volume." Philip Morris International has an estimated price-to-earnings ratio for next year of 14.3 times; the average for tobacco companies is 11.92. For comparison, both Altria Group ( MO) and Lorillard ( LO) have lower forward P/Es of 12.68 and 13.04, respectively. Thirteen of the 21 analysts who cover Philip Morris International rated it buy. Seven analysts gave the stock a hold rating and one rated it sell. TheStreet Ratings gives Philip Morris International a B grade with a buy rating and a $104.97 price target. The stock has risen 7.38% year to date.
Priceline.com The travel company reported fourth-quarter earnings this week of $225.7 million, or $4.53 a share, up from year-ago earnings of $135.7 million, or $2.76 a share. "We note booking.com (Priceline) unique visitors decelerated to +41% y/y during Jan vs. +58% y/y during Dec, while 3 Key Expedia sites decelerated to +4% during Jan vs. +23% in Dec.," Piper Jaffray analysts wrote in a Feb. 29 report. Shares of Priceline.com hit a 52-week high Friday of $64.95. The stock's 52-week low of $41.26 was set on Oct. 4. Priceline.com has a forward P/E of 16.71; the average for travel and tourism companies is 19.97. For comparison, both Expedia ( EXPE) and Travelzoo ( TZOO) have lower forward P/Es of 10.61 and 14.94, respectively. Nineteen of the 23 analysts who cover Priceline.com rated it buy. Three analysts gave the stock a hold rating and one rated it sell. TheStreet Ratings gives Priceline.com an A grade with a buy rating and a $732.75 price target. The stock has risen 37.68% year to date.