As we head in to the final month of what has been a tremendous year for the stock market, the 24/7 staff is reviewing what the major Wall Street firms are recommending for the stretch run and in 2014. The third-quarter earnings season wrapped up in November with stocks providing solid earnings for the quarter. The fourth quarter is expected to be solid again, if not spectacular.
The Institutional Portfolio team at Oppenheimer is looking hard for stocks that are making the turn in trading volume and are showing positive breadth. With so many top names trading at 52-week highs, and in some cases all-time highs, it is important to look for stocks with the stamina to continue forward. The Oppenheimer list is a solid mix of quality names that has some upside. We have broken out the list by sector.
Baker Hughes Inc. (NYSE: BHI) is a top name in oil field services. The company reported solid third-quarter earnings. Cash increased sequentially by $245 million to $1.37 billion as debt decreased by $334 million to $4.58 billion. While Baker Hughes is a $25 billion oilfield services company, it never hurts to improve your balance sheet. The company is well positioned for the shale revolution and for the possible return of natural gas drilling activity. Investors are paid a 1% dividend. The Thomson/First Call price target is set at $65. Baker Hughes closed Wednesday at $54.70.
Raytheon Co. (NYSE: RTN) hits the Oppenheimer screen in the defense sector. At the Dubai air show last month, a senior Raytheon official said the company expected to wrap up its talks about a possible Patriot missile defense system sale to Qatar “fairly quickly” and to finalize the sale of additional Patriot units to Kuwait before the end of the year. Overseas deal will help the defense giant cope with smaller U.S. defense budgets. Shareholders receive a solid 2.5% dividend. The consensus price target for the stock is $82. Raytheon closed Wednesday above that level at $86.05.
Ingersoll-Rand PLC (NYSE: IR) tops the list in the machinery subsector of the industrials. The company has a family of popular brands that should continue to flourish as the housing market stays reasonably strong. The company recently spun off Allegion to shareholders in a move to focus on its core product lines. Investors are paid a 1.2% dividend. The consensus price target for the stock is at $70. Ingersoll-Rand closed Wednesday at $55.90.
Priceline.com Inc. (NASDAQ: PCLN) is a top Internet and consumer discretionary name on the Oppenheimer list. The online travel leader is expecting a solid year in 2014 as the economy here and around the world slowly continues to improve. The stock also is a candidate for a stock split as it has surged to new highs. The consensus price target is posted at a whopping $1,205. Priceline closed Wednesday at $1,181.67.
Cardinal Health Inc. (NYSE: CAH) is a top name in the health care sector. The drug wholesaler’s board also recently authorized an additional $1 billion in stock repurchases. The new authorization is in addition to the company’s existing stock repurchase plan, which has $350 million remaining. Cardinal is projected to have earnings of $3.69 per share in 2013. The company also is projected to grow earnings by 10.4% to $4.07 in 2015 and by 11.3% to $4.53 in 2016. Investors receive a 1.9% dividend. The consensus price objective for the stock is $66. Cardinal closed Wednesday at $63.20.
Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp. (NASDAQ: CTSH) is a top name in the IT technology sector. The company announced recently that it will hire at least 10,000 people in the United States over the next three years. That is solid news for shareholders as hiring indicates a strong pick-up in business. The consensus price target for the stock is posted at $101. Cognizant closed Wednesday at $93.35.
Intuit Inc. (NASDAQ: INTU) is another tech name that scores high at Oppenheimer. The maker of the popular QuickBooks accounting software is making some changes to its tax strategy this year. The company is trying to move away from heavy advertising during the tax season and more toward simplifying its products and ensuring customer retention. This sort of strategy is very much in line with the advantages of SaaS. In other words, SaaS solutions help to reduce customer churn because they tend to involve more of an ongoing interaction than a one-off software sale does. Shareholders are paid a 1.1% dividend. The consensus price target for the stock is set at $73. Intuit closed above that at $74.34 Wednesday.
Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (NASDAQ: MRVL) is a top chip maker on the Oppenheimer list. Marvell’s storage business has done well, despite weakness in the PC market. The company has gained market share for its hard disk drive controllers, or HDDs. In addition, it has seen increased demand from customers as the storage industry seems to be stabilizing and demand for non-PC applications continues to increase. Investors are paid a 1.6% dividend. The consensus price target for the stock is $15. Marvell closed at $14.21.
Frontier Communications Corp. (NASDAQ: FTR) is a top telecom name to buy at Oppenheimer and has been growing faster than many Wall Street pundits predicted. Its high-speed Internet additions totaled 28,200, its largest quarterly increase since acquiring portions of Verizon Communications telephone business in 14 states. Even more significant, the total exceeded the increase for all of 2012. Investors are paid a top 8.5% dividend, which always seems in danger of being cut. The consensus price target for the stock is $5. Frontier closed Wednesday at $4.64.
We have stressed to be cautious as we head in to the new year. Once again, the politicians in Washington will have to confront the budget and debt ceiling. This has proven to be a volatile issue in the past and should continue to be so in January. The market has already sold off some this week as Fed taper fears creep in again.