5 Rocket Stocks You Should Buy as Stocks Drop

BALTIMORE ( Stockpickr) -- Brace for impact. With the S&P 500 as little as two measly points away from new all-time highs last week, drama in Cyprus is sending broad indices down considerably this morning.

While U.S. markets are only just roaring to life as I write, overseas markets are already showing pretty significant corrections. The Nikkei 225 was the worse of the developed country declines, down more than 2.7%. In Europe, the Euro Stoxx 50 and FTSE 100 are off 1.6% and 0.7%, respectively, on the news that Cyprus was delaying the vote needed to secure rescue loans for a second day.

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The tiny nation may make up a tiny fraction of the eurozone's GDP, but the anxiety it's causing -- through lines at ATMs, for instance -- is spreading to other countries as well.

To combat the selling, we're turning to a new set of Rocket Stocks this week.

For the uninitiated, "Rocket Stocks" are our list of companies with short-term gain catalysts and longer-term growth potential. To find them, I run a weekly quantitative screen that seeks out stocks with a combination of analyst upgrades and positive earnings surprises to identify rising analyst expectations, a bullish signal for stocks in any market. After all, where analysts' expectations are increasing, institutional cash often follows. In the last 191 weeks, our weekly list of five plays has outperformed the S&P 500 by 75.65%.

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Without further ado, here's a look at this week's Rocket Stocks.

Cisco Systems

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Up first is Cisco Systems ( CSCO), the $116 billion IP networking stock. Cisco is the world's biggest supplier of the equipment used to connect computer systems; the firm's products include routers, switches, virtual collaboration tools and network management software.

Cisco owns an attractive market position in an attractive market. As data needs propel demand for Cisco's customers, the firm's ability to capture bigger IT infrastructure spending should continue to grow. Cisco's inter-operable gear makes switching costs high for the firm's existing customer base; since integration costs can often come close to initial hardware costs for many customers, ease of integration matters a lot. And that means that customers are more likely to buy complementary Cisco hardware, even if it costs a little more. With the firm's eschewing of the consumer market (save for its Linksys line of networking hardware), it'll have more time to focus on its core business this year.

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Cisco has cash, and lots of it. The firm's balance sheet currently works out to a nearly $31 billion net cash position, or around $5.80 per share. That huge cash balance dramatically reduces the risks of owning this stock, particularly given management's commitment to keep its shareholder payout ratio at approximately half of free cash flow. As long as management can avoid the temptation of overpaying for an acquisition opportunity, this stock offers an impressive risk/reward tradeoff.


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Aircraft manufacturing behemoth Boeing ( BA) is having a rough year -- but you wouldn't know it from the stock's share price. Shares of Boeing have climbed more than 14.6% since the first trading day in January, outperforming the S&P by a big margin. But Boeing has had more attention from the missteps of its 787 Dreamliner program, which finally saw entry to service in the fourth quarter of 2012.

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As Boeing's Dreamliner saga continues, the firm's other offerings are providing impressive returns for investors. For example, the firm recently opted to offer a new version of its extremely successful 737 jet, replete with newer and more fuel-efficient engines. The move kept airlines with a familiar platform (one that requires less pilot and maintenance training), but gave Boeing a big advantage against top rival Airbus. Ultimately, the battery issues with the 787 are going to be more of a pothole in the product's life than a sinkhole -- and once they're resolved, BA's backlog should allow for some impressive revenue generation.

Airliners are only part of Boeing's business, though. The firm is also a major defense contractor, a line that generates approximately 40% of the firm's consolidated sales. While the defense industry is hardly without risk itself, big-dollar long-term contracts (like the KC-46A tanker project) take some of that risk away in the near-term. We're betting on shares of this Rocket Stock this week.

Nielsen Holdings

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Nielsen Holdings ( NLSN) owns a deep economic moat in a critical business. Nielsen is in the business of information and measurement; its television ratings are its most well-known product, offering networks (and, more important, advertisers) a glimpse at how many eyes are on any given program. The firm applies similar analysis to consumer purchasing data and operates trade shows and corporate events for commercial clients.

The combination of deep-moat analytics and an asset-light model make Nielsen an attractive firm. Because clients need the data Nielsen provides in order to function, the firm has some degree of pricing power, at least in its transaction and viewer data units. Because the firm has been quick to embrace changing industry trends, like online content, it's been able to keep its data relevant for companies looking to monetize more platforms.

Financially, Nielsen sports an adequate balance sheet, albeit one with a few blemishes. The firm's financial leverage is on the high side for a service-driven company, but that's partly offset by the ability to generate free cash and pay it out to shareholders in the form of a 1.9% dividend yield. With stellar relative strength in this Rocket Stock in 2013, NLSN could have considerable upside ahead of it.

Lululemon Athletica

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$10 billion apparel stock Lululemon Athletica ( LULU) hasn't enjoyed the same upside in 2013: Shares of the firm have slipped around 10% year-to-date despite some auspicious fundamental performance. Lululemon was a pioneer in the yoga apparel niche, its offerings coming out at the same time that the exercise started ballooning in popularity with American consumers. Lululemon took advantage of that fortuitous timing to expand its offerings to include other fitness gear as well as menswear. Today, the Vancouver-based firm also boasts more than 190 retail stores spread across the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Shares of LULU have been nothing if not volatile since the firm went public in 2007. But while the ebb and flow has been dizzying, the stair-step fundamental performance at the company has been consistently impressive over the last several years. So are the nearly 20% net profit margins that the company is able to generate.

Lululemon's success has everything to do with demographics. By entering the yoga wear business first, LULU targeted a market of generally affluent consumers who are willing to pay premium pricing for quality, and are viewed as trendsetters by others. That positioning has been a big part of the firm's success in arcing from yoga to more general athletic apparel; the sportswear business is a saturated, competitive market, but by starting in a successful niche, the brand was able to establish itself quickly.

While LULU isn't exactly a staid blue chip, this apparel stock still has room to impress investors who've been too skittish in 2013.

Molson Coors Brewing

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This past weekend's Saint Patrick's Day celebrations were a good thing for Molson Coors Brewing ( TAP), the $8.7 billion mega-brewer. Molson Coors is one of the big three multinational beer brewers, positioning that gives the firm some big advantages over smaller rivals. The firm owns brands like eponymous Molson and Coors as well as Blue Moon, Keystone and Miller Lite (the latter through a joint venture with SABMiller ( SBMRY) here in the U.S.).

The relationship between Miller and Coors looks tenuous right now. The joint venture is threatening a breakup in its Canadian operations (the U.S. business is safe), that's been forming a black cloud over shares in the weeks since it was announced. Despite the tug of war between the two partners, TAP owns a valuable portfolio of offerings and carries an enviable market share abroad. Entrance into the fast-growing craft beer segment is a big opportunity for TAP, which has seen stagnating growth as consumers develop more refined beer palates.

A surging dollar has been a real problem for TAP: The firm's international units got hit with reduced revenues and with currency exchange losses on its international business. That currency risk is going to continue to be a threat in this environment, but it's one that investors can take advantage of to buy TAP on the cheap -- especially if the dollar sees a change in its primary trend. We're betting on shares this week.

To see all of this week's Rocket Stocks in action, check out the Rocket Stocks portfolio at Stockpickr.

-- Written by Jonas Elmerraji in Baltimore.


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At the time of publication, author had no positions in stocks mentioned.

Jonas Elmerraji, CMT, is a senior market analyst at Agora Financial in Baltimore and a contributor to TheStreet. Before that, he managed a portfolio of stocks for an investment advisory returned 15% in 2008. He has been featured in Forbes , Investor's Business Daily, and on CNBC.com. Jonas holds a degree in financial economics from UMBC and the Chartered Market Technician designation.