4 Stocks Hitting 52-Week Highs: PM, WFM, PCLN, ASNA

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.

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

Whole Foods Market

The supermarket chain is working on opening its first store in Brooklyn, the New York Post reported.

"A better than expected 1Q12 appears to be further evidence that Whole Foods is hitting on all cylinders as steady, robust sales meet impressive cost controls and margin performance," Jefferies analysts wrote in a Feb. 9 report. "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 Friday of $83.43. The stock's 52-week low of $53.32 was set on Aug. 9.

Whole Foods Market has a forward P/E of 30.92; the average for food retailers and wholesalers is 33.13. For comparison, both Kroger ( KR) and Safeway ( SWY) have lower forward P/Es of 9.8 and 10.96, respectively.

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

TheStreet Ratings gives Whole Foods Market an A+ grade with a buy rating and a $106.34 price target. The stock has risen 18.9% 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.

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

Ascena Retail Group

The retailer reported Thursday second-quarter earnings of $63.7 million, or 83 cents a share, up from year-ago earnings of $42.5 million, or 54 cents.

"It appears that early spring trends have been strong, and we believe there could be top-line upside over the next year stemming from the continued rollout of the loyalty programs at dressbarn and maurices," Piper Jaffray analysts wrote in a report Friday. "Furthermore, we believe that with more than $7 per share in cash, ASNA's balance sheet could support accelerated share repurchases or an accretive acquisition."

Shares of Ascena Retail Group hit a 52-week high Friday of $43. The stock's 52-week low of $24 was set on Sept. 22.

Ascena Retail Group has a forward P/E of 13.6; the average for apparel retailers is 16.97. For comparison, American Eagle Outfitters ( AEO) has a lower forward P/E of 13.89; Urban Outfitters' ( URBN) forward P/E is 18.29.

Eight of the 13 analysts who cover Ascena Retail Group rated it buy; five analysts gave the stock a hold rating.

TheStreet Ratings gives Ascena Retail Group an A- grade with a buy rating and a $45.51 price target. The stock has risen 37.95% year to date.

-- Written by Alexandra Zendrian

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Alexandra Zendrian

>To submit a news tip, send an email to: tips@thestreet.com.

>To follow the writer on Twitter, go to Alexandra Zendrian.