The big S&P 500 index continues to churn in May, stirring sideways around breakeven for the last half-dozen weeks as of this writing. But don't mistake the recent sideways correction in the stock market for anything more serious. Mr. Market's trajectory is still up and to the right this spring.
Zoom out on the S&P's price action a bit, and the bullish bent to stocks begins to stand out a little bit more. After selling off briefly in January, the S&P 500 has been rallying hard, up more than 10% on a total returns basis over the last three months. After such a big, quick move, it's not surprising that the market averages have been catching their breath more recently.
Likewise, it shouldn't be surprising that a big swath of stocks is still managing to stay in rally-mode right now, even though the S&P is taking a pause. Those are the ones worth owning here. To find the stocks that look primed to outperform in the week ahead, we're turning to a fresh set of Rocket Stocks worth buying 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 348 weeks, our weekly list of five plays has outperformed the S&P 500's record run by 78.42%.
Without further ado, here's a look at this week's Rocket Stocks.
International Business Machines
Leading things off is International Business Machines (IBM - Get Report) . IBM hasn't exactly been a standout performer lately. Shares have shed about 15% of their market value over the last 12 months, underperforming the tech sector by a big margin. As a result, Wall Street has been ignoring this big stock; IBM is one of only two large-cap tech sector stocks that started the year significantly under-owned by institutions relative to its weighting in the S&P. But, more recently, IBM has actually been showing investors some serious signs of strength.
For instance, IBM's total returns are teetering on the edge of 10% year-to-date, a big upside versus the averages in 2016.
And there's reason to expect that bullish trajectory in IBM to continue this quarter. IBM is one of the biggest enterprise IT companies on the planet, providing companies, institutions and government agencies with software, hardware and services to keep their operations running smoothly. An exciting high-growth stock Big Blue isn't -- but the firm has historically been well-managed, making prescient decisions such as unloading its PC business and doubling down on the enterprise years before most peers saw the direction the industry was headed.
Competition continues to be strong in all of the spaces where IBM operates, but it mitigates some of that risk through a backlog that's absolutely enormous. IBM currently has more than $120 billion in services waiting to be completed, a demand that helps to smooth out near-term economic hiccups. Investors shouldn't expect IBM to post the kinds of growth numbers that "hotter" tech names are dishing out in 2016, but with huge cash generation and a price tag that's barely ten times earnings at current levels, it makes sense to give IBM's recent rebound a closer look in May.
Enterprise Products Partners
The energy sector hasn't seen much exposure to our list of Rocket Stocks in 2016, but that's slowly changing. Case in point: $54 billion midstream energy company Enterprise Products Partners (EPD - Get Report) . After shedding 30% of its valuation in the last 19 months, EPD is finally picking up some steam again.
Enterprise Products Partners is one of the biggest midstream energy companies on the market. The firm transports and processes natural gas, natural gas liquids, and crude oil, as well as other refined products and chemicals. As a master limited partnership, Enterprise is able to pass the vast majority of its earnings directly to shareholders in the form of dividends -- that's the driving force behind this stock's hefty 6% yield at current levels.
Enterprise's midstream exposure is a little different from most peers in that around a fifth of the firm's income comes from businesses that do ebb and flow with commodity prices. And while that's been a bad thing in the last couple of years, it's beginning to become a good thing as the dollar weakens and commodity prices begin to pick up strength. Enterprise's large size means that it's uniquely able to get supply from nearly every energy producing region in the country, enabling the firm to pull more resources from places where it's the cheapest, and sell more where prices are highest.
Industry-wide concerns over the security of MLP dividend distributions have been a drag on the entire industry, but as investors regain confidence in these stocks' payout abilities once again, EPD could have a lot of room for a rebound.
Meanwhile, this year continues to come with stellar performance for Constellation Brands (STZ - Get Report) : Constellation has managed to climb nearly 14% higher so far in 2016, and more than 37% over the course of the last year. Even though this stock isn't exactly looking "cheap" at current price levels, Constellation's price trajectory continues to outpace the rest of the market in May.
Constellation Brands is one of the biggest alcoholic beverage companies in the world, with a collection of labels that range from Arbor Mist and Robert Mondavi wine to Corona beer, Svedka vodka and Cook's champagne. Constellation's recent acquisition of craft brewery Ballast Point late last year for approximately $1 billion gives the firm instant exposure to the red-hot craft beer market and expands Constellation's beer business to its biggest single focus. Brands matter in the alcoholic beverage business, and Constellation's portfolio of labels is among the best in the business.
The acquisition of Ballast Point has considerable potential, in part because it makes Constellation one of the best ways to get exposure to the craft beer business among publicly-traded stocks. Currently, the firm sells more beer than it is able to produce in-house, creating ample opportunity to ramp up supply in the next few years. If Constellation can streamline production and boost margins, shareholders stand to benefit in a big way.
Financial data firm S&P Global (SPGI - Get Report) is having a solid year so far in 2016. Since the calendar flipped to January, this $27 billion data stock has seen its share price climb 7% higher, outperforming its eponymous stock index by a big margin. S&P Global is one of the big financial services and ratings firms, with a collection of brands that includes Standard & Poor's, J.D. Power and Associates and Platts. The firm is also the majority owner of the S&P Dow Jones Indices business.
S&P Global has been a company in transition in recent years. The firm broke apart its education division in early 2013, narrowing its focus on financial services, market research, and ratings. Those are all businesses where brands matter, and the firm's positioning gives it a deep economic moat. Then, earlier this year, the firm announced that it would change its name from McGraw Hill Financial to S&P Global. Even though the corporate name has changed, the name that most businesses know hasn't.
That transition hasn't ended yet. S&P Global announced in April that it's selling the J.D. Power brand to XIO Group for $1.1 billion, a move that shifts the company another step away from consumer ratings. Going forward, S&P Global's focus will be "100% in analytics, data, and benchmarks," according to CEO Doug Peterson. Cross-selling opportunities abound with S&P - because it's able to use index data from S&P Dow Jones Indices to feed institutional data subscriptions at S&P Capital IQ, for instance, it has some built-in economies of scale. Likewise, S&P's ratings arm is a booming business in this environment, and it's one of the big three nationally recognized statistical ratings organizations.
With rising analyst sentiment in shares, we're betting on SPGI this week.
Dr. Pepper Snapple Group
Last on our list of Rocket Stocks this week is Dr. Pepper Snapple Group (DPS) , the firm behind brands including Dr. Pepper, Snapple, 7UP, A&W, and Hawaiian Punch.
DPS may trail the scale of league leaders Coke (KO - Get Report) and Pepsi (PEP - Get Report) in a material way, but the firm has found considerable success in the non-alcoholic beverage market by focusing on niche products and partnering with other companies on distribution. As a result DPS' brands tend to be either the number-one or number-two operator in their respective categories. Likewise, a smaller overall size means that DPS can compete despite more limited geographic exposure, opting to focus on areas where it earns the best returns rather than growth at any cost.
DPS is largely vertically integrated in many markets, manufacturing, bottling, and even distributing its own products. The firm does rely on third-party bottling partners for approximately 40% of its volume, but the remaining 60% is completely handled in-house. A strong dollar hasn't presented the problem at DPS that it's caused larger beverage peers. That's because the firm's product rights are limited to the North American market, where the U.S. is its biggest revenue generator by far. That concentrated customer base gives DPS the ability to focus on a smaller geographic footprint, keeping costs lower.
Look for this stock's bullish trajectory to continue in the week ahead.
Exclusive Look Inside:
You see Jim Cramer on TV. Now, see where he invests his money and why Pepsi is a core holding of his multi-million dollar portfolio.
Want to be alerted before Jim Cramer buys or sells PEP? Learn more now.