5 Stocks Hit 52-Week Highs: CL, AVB, EL, AEO, WFM

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- These five stocks hit 52-week highs on Tuesday: Colgate-Palmolive ( CL), AvalonBay ( AVB), Estee Lauder ( EL), American Eagle Outfitters ( AEO) and Whole Foods ( WFM).

Colgate-Palmolive

"One of our biggest long-term concerns is competitor investment/expansion into Colgate's D&E markets," Wells Fargo analysts wrote in a Feb. 24 report. "For example, yesterday P&G detailed aggressive global expansion plans for Oral Care. This was not a surprise to Colgate management and they seem prepared to aggressively respond depending on competitor actions. However, we will see how this alters the competitive landscape in these markets."

Shares of Colgate-Palmolive hit a 52-week high Tuesday of $95. The stock's 52-week low of $76.39 was set on March 18.

Colgate-Palmolive has an estimated price-to-earnings ratio for next year of 16.1 times; the average for personal products companies is 15.39. For comparison, both Kimberly-Clark ( KMB) and Avon ( AVP) have lower forward P/Es of 13.19 and 10.84, respectively.

Sixteen of the 24 analysts who cover Colgate-Palmolive rated it hold. Five analysts gave the stock a buy rating and three rated it sell.

TheStreet Ratings gives Colgate-Palmolive an A grade with a buy rating and a $114.87 price target. The stock has risen 2.59% year to date.

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AvalonBay Communities

The multifamily community company was upgraded to top pick from outperform by RBC analysts on Tuesday.

"We model AVB to issue $500 million of unsecured bonds at 4.75% in 3Q'12, $500 million at 5.0% in 1Q'13, and $300 million at 5.25% in 3Q'13," JPMorgan analysts wrote in a Feb. 15 report. "Given the current rate/spread environment, these should be fairly viewed as pretty conservative. We also assume AVB issues $225 million of equity throughout 2012 and $250 million throughout 2013."

Shares of AvalonBay hit a 52-week high Tuesday of $140.61. The stock's 52-week low of $107.54 was set on Oct. 4.

AvalonBay has a forward P/E of 43.69; the average for residential real estate investment trusts is 54.07. For comparison, Camden Property Trust ( CPT) has a lower forward P/E of 42.51; Essex Property Trust's ( ESS) forward P/E is 58.67.

Analysts were split on AvalonBay with 11 rating the stock buy, 11 giving it a hold rating and three rating it sell.

TheStreet Ratings gives AvalonBay an A- grade with a buy rating and a $154.77 price target. The stock has risen 6.5% year to date.


Estee Lauder

"EL's underlying business remained strong in FQ2, but they failed to deliver the expected upside to consensus," JPMorgan analysts wrote in a Feb. 6 report. "Although we think there are areas of upside within their FY12 outlook, with the expected deceleration in some markets and their desire to hold on to share gains, we think management may choose to further dial up spending as opposed to drop it to the bottom line."

Shares of Estee Lauder hit a 52-week high Tuesday of $60.85. The stock's 52-week low of $40.76 was set on Oct. 4.

Estee Lauder has a forward P/E of 23.43; the average for personal products companies is 15.39. For comparison, both Nu Skin Enterprises ( NUS) and Revlon ( REV) have lower forward P/Es of 17.74 and 10.05, respectively.

Eleven of the 19 analysts who cover Estee Lauder rated it buy; eight analysts gave the stock a hold rating.

TheStreet Ratings gives Estee Lauder an A+ grade with a buy rating and $77.32 price target. The stock has risen 8.23% year to date.

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American Eagle Outfitters

"For '12, square footage is expected to decline by 1% (25-30 store closures offset by 15 new stores in highly profitable outlet locations)," Wells Fargo analysts wrote in a March 9 report. "Our '12 EPS estimate of $1.02 assumes comps up 3% (3% total sales growth in line with guidance of "modest sales improvement" in '12), 140bps gross margin expansion, and 150bps of operating margin expansion to 9.7% (5-year average is 11.9%). There is further upside potential if comp trends continue strongly."

Shares of American Eagle hit a 52-week high of $16.72. The stock's 52-week low of $10 was set on Sept. 6.

American Eagle's forward P/E is 13.35; the average for apparel retailers is 15.37. For comparison, Express ( EXPR) has a lower forward P/E of 11.89; Aeropostale's ( ARO) forward P/E is 14.02.

Sixteen of the 29 analysts who cover American Eagle rated it hold. Eleven analysts gave the stock a buy rating and two rated it sell.

TheStreet Ratings gives American Eagle a B grade with a buy rating and $18.19 price target. The stock has risen 7.85% year to date.


Whole Foods Market

Coverage of the grocery chain was initiated at UBS with a buy on Tuesday.

"WFM can unlock demand for natural/organic food by reinvesting scale efficiencies into lower prices," UBS analysts wrote in a report Tuesday. "Our price elasticity analysis shows natural/organic affordability is the barrier to substantially higher demand."

Shares of Whole Foods Market hit a 52-week high on Tuesday of $85.25. The stock's 52-week low of $53.32 was set on Aug. 9.

Whole Foods' forward P/E is 31.74; the average for food retailers is 32.94. For comparison, Kroger ( KR) has a lower P/E of 9.76.

Fifteen of the 27 analysts who cover Whole Foods rated it buy. Nine analysts gave the stock a hold rating and one rated it sell.

TheStreet Ratings gives Whole Foods an A+ grade with a buy rating and $110.04 price target. The stock has risen 22.2% year to date.

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-- Written by Alexandra Zendrian

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