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All Contents © 2016The Kiplinger Washington Editors
Don’t give up on this bull market yet — it still has room to run in 2016. But temper your expectations. Volatility will be high as the Federal Reserve raises interest rates, and economic growth is getting spotty. On average, investors can expect mid-single-digit percentage increases in stocks as a whole.
But even a so-so market can produce gems. Here are 26 stock picks that Kiplinger's investing editors Daren Fonda and Anne Kates Smith, as well as columnist James K. Glassman, see offering special promise in the year ahead.
52-week high/low prices, projected earnings and annual revenues as of Dec. 4. Other data as of October 30. Analyst estimates are provided by Thomson Reuters. James K. Glassman, who writes the Opening Shot column, owns shares in Twitter. Stocks are listed in alphabetic order.
By the editors of Kiplinger's Personal Finance
| December 2015
52-week high: $71.60
52-week low: $45.45
Annual revenues: $21.9 billion
Projected 2016 earnings growth: 16.8%
Volatility is unnerving, but investors able to keep their heads can use it to their advantage. There’s sure to be a lot of heated political rhetoric in 2016 about limiting drug costs, for example. That could be a cue to shop for bargains among top-notch pharmaceutical firms such as AbbVie Inc. (ABBV).
The company’s key product is Humira, a drug used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and similar conditions. Big pharmaceutical companies with a global reach will benefit long-term from a coming surge in health care spending in emerging markets.
SEE LAST YEAR'S PICKS: 25 Best Stocks for 2015
52-week high: $85.62
52-week low: $54.41
Annual revenues: $1.6 billion
Projected 2016 earnings growth: 23.9%
Just over a decade since its creation, Acadia Healthcare (ACHC) runs the largest network of private treatment centers for mental health and addiction problems, with 256 locations in the U.S. and the U.K. With more people gaining access to insurance and revenues climbing as the firm expands, Acadia’s profits are expected to jump 24% in 2016. Although Acadia, at 24 times estimated earnings, is hardly cheap, the shares don’t reflect the firm’s growth potential, says BMO Capital Markets, which has a 12-month price target on the stock of $92.
SEE ALSO: The Next Great Dividend Stocks of the S&P 500
52-week high: $79.64
52-week low: $52.28
Annual revenues: $12.0 billion
Projected 2016 earnings growth: 5.4%
52-week high: $47.49
52-week low: $19.58
Annual revenues: $171.0 million
Projected 2016 earnings growth: 20.7%
Benefitfocus (BNFT), which makes software that helps employees of large companies navigate the complex world of benefits, including health insurance, is favored by Terry Tillman, an analyst with Raymond James Associates who specializes in business software companies. The company has been losing money, but Tillman sees revenues rising by 24% in the coming year.
52-week high: $61.94
52-week low: $39.40
Annual revenues: $5.1 billion
Projected 2016 earnings growth: 17.2%
Burlington Stores (BURL), with 546 stores and a robust Internet presence, is growing briskly, with profits expected to rise 18% in the fiscal year that ends in January 2017. The apparel chain is favored in the portfolio of T. Rowe Price New Horizons (PRNHX), the place to go for hot small and mid-cap stocks since 1960. Manager Henry Ellenbogen made a large addition to his position in the third quarter of 2015.
52-week high: $113.65
52-week low: $81.37
Annual revenues: $149.2 billion
Projected 2016 earnings growth: 12.4%
Drugstore chain CVS Health (CVS) bulked up big-time in 2015, buying Target’s 1,660 pharmacies for $1.9 billion and paying $12.9 billion for Omnicare, a provider of pharmacy services to nursing homes.
Both deals should help boost revenues, even as CVS expands in other areas, such as walk-in clinics and drug-benefits management, a business that accounts for about one-fifth of all prescriptions in the U.S. Wall Street analysts see sales and profits rising about 13% in 2016. Rating the stock a “strong buy,” research firm S&P Capital IQ has a 12-month price target of $127.
52-week high: $90.57
52-week low: $66.10
Annual revenues: $16.6 billion
Projected 2016 earnings growth: 19.8%
Cars are becoming high-tech machines on wheels, with “adaptive” safety systems, computerized powertrains and software to help guide them down the road. Analysts estimate that by selling these and other products to carmakers, Delphi Automotive (DLPH) will see sales rise by 12% in 2016 and profits climb by 20%. A slowdown in China is denting sales, and Delphi could see fallout from the emissions scandal at Volkswagen. But Delphi’s long-term growth story remains intact, says Credit Suisse analyst Dan Galves. (Although Delphi is based in England, key execs work in Michigan.)
SEE ALSO: 3 Big Companies on the Cutting Edge
M.O. Stevens via Wikipedia
52-week high: $84.22
52-week low: $60.31
Annual revenues: $12.6 billion
Projected 2016 earnings growth: 40.7%
Every item at Dollar Tree (DLTR) costs a buck or less, but the bigger bargain may be its stock. After buying Family Dollar in 2015, Dollar Tree runs 13,900 stores that will generate more than $20 billion in sales over the next year. Investors seem to doubt the deal’s merits, and the stock has sunk from $82 last summer. But Dollar Tree should be able to boost profits at the old Family Dollar stores and lift the combined firm’s earnings more than expected, says Stacie Cowell, comanager of the Rainier Mid Cap Equity Fund (RIMMX). She sees the stock topping $90 within the next two years.
52-week high: $110.65
52-week low: $72.00
Annual revenues: $15.9 billion
Projected 2016 earnings growth: 31.8%
Facebook (FB) is the top holding of Fidelity Contrafund, the large-cap mutual fund, managed by Will Danoff. Although the stock recently hit a new high, analysts estimate that both revenues and earnings will rise by about one-third in 2016. Given such rapid growth, columnist James K. Glassman doesn’t consider Facebook to be overpriced, despite its seemingly high P/E of 37, based on profit forecasts for 2016.
SEE ALSO: 7 Cash-Rich Stocks to Add to Your Portfolio
Do you invest in:
Courtesy Johnson & Johnson
52-week high: $108.88
52-week low: $81.79
Annual revenues: $70.5 billion
Projected 2016 earnings growth: 3.9%
Stocks that pay consistently rising dividends tend to provide ballast for a portfolio, delivering regular, though unspectacular gains. Shares of Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), which has increased its payout for 53 consecutive years, have been largely treading water for two years. It’s time for them to catch up with the rest of the health care sector.
52-week high: $15.16
52-week low: $12.82
Annual revenues: $622.1 million
Projected 2016 earnings growth: 5.1%
Old National Bancorp (ONB) is a 181-year-old financial institution with 195 branches, mainly in the Midwest. The stock, which is still down by about one-third from its prerecession high, trades at just 13 times projected 2016 earnings and yields an attractive 3.4%. If interest rates ever rise, the bank should benefit from a widening spread between its cost of funds and the interest rates borrowers pay.
It's a favorite of David Dreman, author of the classic 1980 book Contrarian Investment Strategy. His philosophy: “We believe that the markets are not perfectly efficient.” Some stocks, in other words, are judged by the market to be cheaper than their actual worth.
SEE ALSO: 4 Money-Manager Stocks to Buy Now
Steve Morgan via Wikipedia
52-week high: $94.12
52-week low: $57.33
Annual revenues: $112.0 billion
Projected 2016 earnings growth: -7.0%
Even if oil prices stay low in 2016, refiner Phillips 66 (PSX) should prosper.
Low crude prices mean higher profit margins at Phillips’s refining operations and gas stations, and the company is investing in such promising areas as natural-gas pipelines, processing facilities and petrochemical plants. Compared with other refiners, the stock’s valuation looks compelling given Phillips’s diverse business mix and growth potential, says Oppenheimer & Co. analyst Fadel Gheit. Another fan: Warren Buffett, whose Berkshire Hathaway owns more than 10% of Phillips’s shares.
SEE ALSO: 8 Ways to Make Money on Cheap Oil
52-week high: $244.19
52-week low: $178.42
Annual revenues: $2.4 billion
Projected 2016 earnings growth: 9.7%
Of the more than 2,000 stocks ranked by the Value Line Investment Survey, only nine are ranked in the top category (“1”) for both timeliness and safety. One is a large real estate investment trust called Public Storage (PSA), which owns and operates self-storage facilities. Earnings are rising robustly, and the stock currently yields 3.0%.
SEE ALSO: 8 Best Dividend Stocks of the Dow
52-week high: $44.49
52-week low: $19.01
Annual revenues: $305.7 million
Projected 2016 earnings growth: -28.9%
2015 was a rough year for small-cap growth stocks, and that’s all the more reason to give them a shot. A good place to hunt is in the portfolio of Meridian Growth Legacy (MERDX), an excellent fund in the category. One of its top holdings, a previous highflier that has stalled out because of the decline in energy prices, is RigNet (RNET), which provides digital-communications systems that link oil-and-gas operations around the world. Revenues and earnings are expected to be flat in 2016, but RigNet’s price has fallen by nearly half since July 2014, and it looks like a bargain.
SEE ALSO: 4 Small-Cap Dividend Stocks With Big Appeal
52-week high: $50.78
52-week low: $31.36
Annual revenues: $19.5 billion
Projected 2016 earnings growth: 15.0%
As the largest U.S. domestic airline, Southwest Airlines (LUV) is flying high these days. Low jet-fuel prices are boosting profit margins, and the carrier is seeing strong demand for its seats, flying planes at a record 85% of capacity. Southwest should fare well as it starts to fly more international routes, launching service to Mexico and other parts of the Caribbean, for instance. It’s also expanding domestically. Even with big gains in the stock over the past year, it “has a lot of runway left,” says analyst Helane Becker of investment bank Cowen and Co.
Courtesty TAL Education Group
52-week high: $45.87
52-week low: $26.11
Annual revenues: $434.0 million
Projected 2016 earnings growth: 14.4%
TAL Education Group (XRS), a Beijing-based provider of K-12 after-school services , has weathered the downturn in the Chinese stock market exceptionally well. It's a favorite of Wasatch World Innovators Fund (WAGTX), which spreads its net across the globe, investing in fast-growing companies of all sizes.
52-week high: $53.49
52-week low: $21.01
Annual revenues: $2.0 billion
Projected 2016 earnings growth: 61.1%
Columnist James K. Glassman is again investing in Twitter (TWTR). It was his pick for 2015, when he identified it as a poorly managed company that would soon find its way. With more than 300 million active users per month, revenues rising at more than 40% annually, and Jack Dorsey back as CEO, Glassman thinks 2016 and beyond will be its time to shine.
52-week high: $185.73
52-week low: $120.38
Annual revenues: $3.5 billion
Projected 2016 earnings growth: 18.0%
Some retailers sell cosmetics; others run beauty salons. Combining both businesses in its 817 stores, Ulta Salon, Cosmetics & Fragrance (ULTA) is thriving. Sales have been rising at a 22% annual pace as Ulta has opened about 100 stores a year, aiming for more than 1,200 in North America. The shares aren’t cheap, at 31 times estimated earnings for the fiscal year that ends in January 2017. But Ulta has never traded in the bargain bin, and it offers one of the highest growth rates of any major retailer. Analysts forecast that earnings will jump 19% in the 2017 fiscal year.
SEE ALSO: Why I Love Investing in Cult Retailers
Courtesy Under Armour
52-week high: $105.89
52-week low: $63.77
Annual revenues: $3.7 billion
Projected 2016 earnings growth: 29.5%
Nike reigns as the king of sports apparel and footwear, but Under Armour (UA) seems to be the charmed prince.
By 2018, the company aims to more than double annual sales, to $7.5 billion, as it opens more Under Armour stores, expands abroad and develops high-tech fitness gear. The stock, at 70 times estimated 2016 earnings, looks off-the-charts expensive, but it’s worth the price, says Michael Cuggino, manager of Permanent Portfolio Aggressive Growth Fund (PAGRX). “Under Armour is a similar story to Facebook,” he says, “except that it’s in the apparel business.”
Courtesy Walt Disney Co.
52-week high: $122.08
52-week low: $90.00
Annual revenues: $52.5 billion
Projected 2016 earnings growth: 9.7%
Walt Disney Co. (DIS) is “an iconic brand that’s extremely well managed,” says Henry Smith, chief investment officer at Haverford Trust, who thinks Disney’s December 2015 release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, plus all the movie spin-off products to follow, bodes well for the company. Theme parks and resorts, including Disney Cruise Line, account for roughly 30% of sales; media networks, including 80%-owned ESPN, bring in 45%. Besides Lucasfilm (home of the Star Wars franchise) Disney owns Pixar, Marvel Entertainment and Maker Studios, a YouTube network.
SEE ALSO: 7 Great Growth Stocks
52-week high: $18.93
52-week low: $11.01
Annual revenues: $492.9 million
Projected 2016 earnings growth: 102.5%
Xerium Technologies (XRM), a manufacturer of products used in papermaking, is a favorite of micro-cap expert Dan Abramowitz, who heads Hillson Financial Management, in Rockville, Md. Abramowitz calls the company “a turnaround story that is now at an inflection point.” Changes that a new management team put into effect in 2012 should start bearing fruit. The stock’s price-earnings ratio is a mere 7, based on the average of analysts’ earnings estimates for 2016.
The case for Europe is strong. The Continent’s economies are gaining traction from rock-bottom interest rates, a falling euro (which helps boost exports) and pent-up demand. Bargains abound. Stocks in eurozone markets trade for less than 14 times estimated 2016 corporate earnings, compared with a price-earnings ratio of 16 for U.S. stocks. Moreover, earnings should rise by about 8% in 2016, compared with 6.5% for U.S. companies, according to Wells Fargo Investment Institute. Finally, dividends are more generous across the Atlantic, with the average yield more than 3% compared with 2% here.
Stick with well-known, high-quality stocks. Ernest Cecilia, chief investment officer at Bryn Mawr Trust, recommends Novartis (symbol NVS), the Swiss pharmaceutical giant. Harding Loevner portfolio manager Richard Schmidt favors energy stocks that he thinks have been punished unfairly as the price of oil has plunged. Among his favorites are Schlumberger (SLB), the French energy-services giant, and Luxembourg-based Tenaris (TS).
SEE ALSO: TIAA-CREF Analyst Saira Malik Eyes European Stocks
Japan is a mixed picture. The bulls argue that economic reforms are bolstering growth, albeit slowly. But Saira Malik, head of global stock portfolio management at TIAA-CREF, isn’t convinced. “We’re just not seeing the results,” she says. “Growth is going in the wrong direction in Japan.” See our interview with Malik here.
Still, you can find promising stocks even in iffy markets. Japan’s Fanuc (FANUY) is a major player in the fast-growing market for robots that are primarily used to automate factory work. In China, cash in on the burgeoning consumer economy with Ctrip.com Intl. (CTRP), a travel-services firm.
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