Advance Auto Parts "AAP experienced a solid turnaround in 4Q results with its strongest comp performance of the year and the pace of gross margin pressure halving sequentially," JPMorgan analysts wrote in a Feb. 17 report. "Looking to 2012, the first half of the year promises the most potential EPS upside with an expected acceleration in comps against easier sales comparisons and runway on cost reductions." Shares of Advance Auto Parts hit a 52-week high Wednesday of $89.65. The stock's 52-week low of $49.50 was set on Aug. 10. Advance Auto Parts' forward P/E of 13.3; the average for specialty retailers is 16.92. Fourteen of the 23 analysts who cover Advance Auto Parts rated it hold; nine analysts gave the stock a buy rating. TheStreet Ratings gives Advance Auto Parts an A+ grade with a buy rating and a $103.08 price target. The stock has risen 28.39% year to date.
Ross Stores "ROST benefited from both multiple expansion and earnings revisions - beating the high end of its initial 2011 plans by $0.31 - while TJX has kept Street estimates essentially unchanged - beating the high end of its initial 2011 plan by just $0.02 (upside has been all valuation)," JPMorgan analysts wrote in a March 20 report. "Coming into 2012, we see a slightly different setup, as ROST should continue its 'under-promise, over-deliver' mantra, while TJX may now be the company that has more upside left on the table in 2012." Shares of Ross Stores hit a 52-week high Wednesday of $57.53. The stock's 52-week low of $33.50 was set on Aug. 18. Ross Stores' forward P/E is 15.57; the average for apparel retailers is 17.16. For comparison, Aeropostale ( ARO) has a lower forward P/E of 14.6; Express' ( EXPR) forward P/E is 11.74. Fourteen of the 27 analysts who cover Ross Stores rated it hold; 13 analysts gave the stock a buy rating. TheStreet Ratings gives Ross Stores an A+ grade with a buy rating and a $73.96 price target. The stock has risen 20.49% year to date.