4 Stocks Hit 52-Week Highs: Wal-Mart, Delta

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Wal-Mart ( WMT), Delta Air Lines ( DAL), Brinker International ( EAT) and J.B. Hunt ( JBHT).

Wal-Mart

"We continue to think WMT has legs into the mid-60s in the near term given the momentum in the core U.S. division, persistent strength at Sam's, and improved profitability in International (on the latter, 2012 is a "digestion year" with margins the focus and no major acquisitions expected)," JPMorgan analysts wrote in a May 18 report. "The company's effort to re-embrace the core message of the brand in the U.S. (i.e., price and assortment leadership) are resonating with customers and driving trip frequency (with traffic accelerating from 75 bps to 110 bps sequentially). We have yet to anniversary the completion of the SKU add-back process, which was finished in November last year. Besides overall traffic, the fruits of their efforts can be seen (along with some weather) in the apparel comp, which was positive for the first time in years. We expect the trends in the core division to be the primary driver of the stock, in addition to International profitability, as these have the greatest impact to EPS upside."

Shares of Wal-Mart hit a 52-week high on Tuesday of $65.76. The stock's 52-week low of $48.31 was set on Aug. 10.

Wal-Mart trades at an estimated price-to-earnings ratio for next year of 12.24 times; the average for broad-line retailers is 17.61. For comparison, Target ( TGT) has a lower forward P/E of 11.82.

Eighteen of the 24 analysts who cover Wal-Mart rated it hold. Fifteen analysts gave the stock a buy rating and one rated it sell.

The stock has risen 9.54% year to date.

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Delta Air Lines

"Airline stocks sold off yesterday on the heels of headline that DAL surprised investors with a 5% capacity reduction post labor day," Sterne Agee analysts wrote in a May 18 report. "Talk about a market hearing what it wanted to hear...we took away that pricing was strong, and the company was better managing slow-season capacity in international markets...to us, this appears to be a market overreaction - Buy the weakness."

Shares of Delta hit a 52-week high Tuesday of $11.75. The stock's 52-week low of $6.41 was set on Aug. 8.

Delta's forward P/E is 4.4 times; the average for airline companies is 6.08. For comparison, Southwest Airlines ( LUV) has a higher forward P/E of 9.1.

Thirteen of the 15 analysts who over Delta rated it buy; two analysts gave the stock a hold rating.

The stock has risen 44.38% year to date.


Brinker International

"We expect to see multiple expansion in coming quarters as Brinker is one of the few restaurant companies poised to maintain SSS momentum and deliver margin expansion over the balance of 2012 heading into 2013," Wells Fargo analysts wrote in a May 10 report.

Shares of Brinker International hit a 52-week high on Tuesday of $32.96. The stock's 52-week low of $19.50 on Sept. 12.

Brinker International's forward P/E is 14.33; the average for restaurant and bar companies is 16.77. For comparison, Panera Bread ( PNRA) has a higher forward P/E is 21.82.

Ten of the 18 analysts who cover Brinker International rated it hold. Six analysts gave the stock a buy rating and two rated it sell.

The stock has risen 21.56% year to date.

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J.B. Hunt

"JBHT remains one of the premier transport providers in the US," Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts wrote in a May 21 report. "It has reduced its exposure to the volatile over the road business (to 2,585 trucks from more than 5,200 in Mar. 2007) while growing its Intermodal focus (>60% of revs), which provides a 30%+ ROIC, and continues to grow. Valuation is attractive given its mid-20% growth rate, providing upside potential as Intermodal volumes continue to grow at mid-teens, pricing firms, and its truck division improves profitability."

Shares of J.B. Hunt hit a 52-week high on Tuesday of $57.92. The stock's 52-week low of $34.42 was set on Sept. 22.

J.B. Hunt's forward P/E is 18.81; the average for trucking companies is 13.96. For comparison, Old Dominion ( ODFL) has a lower forward P/E of 13.66.

Fifteen of the 29 analysts rated J.B. Hunt buy; 14 analysts gave the stock a hold rating.

The stock has risen 27.07% year to date.

-- Written by Alexandra Zendrian

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