BALTIMORE (Stockpickr) -- The big bounce in the S&P 500 followed through last week, ending the big index 1.2% higher on Friday than it started Monday morning. And this week, there's a lot more upside potential baked into stocks.
According to statistical data from EidoSearch, the 70% of market instances with price action similar to that in the S&P right now ended higher, putting the big index's upside potential almost another point higher for the end of the week.
That's good news for stock market bulls in August.
But to make the most of the continued rally in stocks, it makes sense to focus on one subset that's predisposed to outperform the market averages. I'm talking about the "Rocket Stocks." Today, we're looking at five fresh Rocket names for a new 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 262 weeks, our weekly list of five plays has outperformed the S&P 500's record run by 79.66%.
Without further ado, here's a look at this week's Rocket Stocks.
Up first is legacy investment bank Goldman Sachs (GS) , a name that doesn't need much in the way of introduction. Goldman has an ironclad reputation as a well-connected investment bank -- for better or worse. And in 2014, with M&A and IPO deal volumes ramping up in the second half of the year, Goldman looks well-positioned to benefit from the rising tide in its core business.
Investment banking isn't Goldman's only business -- the firm also has thriving wealth management and institutional client services units, offering an integrated model that's stuffed with cross-selling opportunities. One major change in recent years was the decision to reorganize as a bank holding company during the Great Recession, a move that the firm needed to make to stay afloat. That reorganization comes at the cost of returns; with increased regulatory scrutiny, investors shouldn't expect the same levels of profitability that the firm recognized in years' past.
Historically, Goldman's management teams have been good stewards of shareholder value. And even though the firm's 1.3% dividend yield isn't earth-shattering, it's on the high side for a large-cap financial today. Look for record-high underwriting revenues to help propel upside in the third quarter.
Goldman Sachs shows up on a list of Warren Buffett's Top 25 Stocks for 2014.
Simon Property Group
2014 has been a strong year for shareholders in Simon Property Group (SPG) . Since the calendar flipped to January, shares of this $52 billion real estate investment trust have rallied more than 11%. A lot of that performance came from the flight to yield investors experienced earlier in the year. Now SPG looks like it's in store for more upside ahead.
Simon Property Group is the largest REIT in the U.S. The firm's properties are primarily retail, with U.S. regional malls and outlet centers making up approximately 90% of net lease income. Simon also owns a 29% stake in Klepierre, which gives the firm exposure to European retail properties as well. Because of its size, SPG has access to a large amount of cheap capital that it can use tackle deals that smaller rivals can't handle alone.
Because of the typical deal characteristics in the retail real estate business, SPG also gets added exposure to retail sales (mall lease agreements typically include a cut of store revenue). That's an attractive sweetener in an environment where consumer spending continues to be on the upswing. The decision to spin off its smaller assets into Washington Prime Group (WPG) is a positive for SPG shareholders as well -- it puts smaller, less productive assets in a separate basket, leaving new SPG with higher revenues per square foot than its predecessor.
With rising analyst sentiment in SPG this week, we're betting on shares.
Delta Air Lines
There's no two ways about it: Shares of Delta Air Lines (DAL) have been going full throttle in 2014. Since the first trading session of the year, this legacy air carrier has seen its shares appreciate by more than 40%. And despite some corrective action in the last couple of months, this Rocket Stock is looking buyable again in August.
Delta is one of the largest airlines in the world, with more than 720 aircraft serving some mainline 247 destinations all over the world. Like other legacy carriers, Delta has some big benefits from its mainline/regional airline partnerships. It's able to peel the least attractive routes off of its map and let smaller regionals operate them under the Delta banner. Delta is squarely the best-positioned of the legacy carriers, and while discount carriers still pose considerable risks to Delta's model, the fact remains that Delta is able to service more highly competitive routes than domestic rivals, and that should keep high-revenue frequent fliers in the firm's seats.
The cyclical nature of the airline business has been a problem for investors in the past, but with cyclical lows already set, Delta looks ready to take advantage of a bullish industry trend here. Fat margins and upside barriers to oil prices in the near-term should help Delta throw off some big profits in the second half of the year.
Fragrance and cosmetics maker Estee Lauder (EL) is another name that's benefitting from looser consumer purse strings these days. Despite a slow start to this year, EL has rallied more than 12% in the trailing six months, making up for lost time in the process. Besides the firm's namesake label, Estee Lauder's brands include popular names like Clinique in addition to mall staples M-A-C and Origins.
Estee Lauder's product lineup skews high-end, a fact that has historically generates net profit margins around 10%. Because consumers tend to be sticky and less price sensitive about cosmetics, EL's huge 25% share of the world's premium cosmetics market comes with some big scale advantages. So does EL's willingness to look overseas for growth – today, more than 60% of sales are generated overseas, and more than 30% of that revenue is generated in emerging markets. As burgeoning middle class populations look to trade up to premium cosmetics brands, Estee Lauder is already entrenched in those markets.
Financially speaking, EL is in solid shape. The firm's $1.3 billion debt load is more than offset by $1.5 billion in cash. That balance sheet position leaves more than enough dry powder for growth in the years ahead. Buying pressure from bullish earnings on Friday could spill over into this week.
Even if you've never heard the name before, there's a very good chance that you've come face to face (literally) with some of Ball's (BLL) products. That's because the Broomfield, Colorado-based company is the world's largest metal can manufacturer, cranking out approximately 70 billion beverage cans annual. Ball also manufactures metal food and household product packaging, and aerospace products.
Beverage cans are Ball's bread and butter. The division contributes three-quarters of the firm's annual revenues, and punches out cans for household names such as Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) , PepsiCo (PEP) , MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD) . All told, Ball controls nearly half of the beverage can industry, a scale factor that gives the firm the ability to spread manufacturing around the world and keep production costs low for its individual customers. And even though Ball's use of aluminum would normally leave a firm beholden to commodity prices, the company's long-term contracts and use of hedging essentially negates price swings in its inputs.
Two key areas where Ball is generating growing revenues are China, where the firm has become the largest player in the beverage can market, and aerospace, where BLL earns approximately 10% of its total revenues producing hardware for the U.S. government. The firm's aggressive approach to revenue diversification should help drive growth in the years ahead.
-- Written by Jonas Elmerraji in Baltimore.