Jefferies Adds Apple, Celanese, HMS Holdings to Global Conviction List

Late Wednesday, Jefferies Group Inc. (NYSE: JEF) added three new domestic names to its Global Conviction buy list. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL), Celanese Corp. (NYSE: CE) and HMS Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ: HMSY) were all added after the close. While Jefferies stresses in its 2013 outlook that it expects only modest gains for equities and the economy, these three names have jumped to its top ranking.

For Apple, which closed yesterday at $549.03, Jefferies set an $800 price target. Three specific areas are cited that may help Apple to continue its spectacular growth. 1) Continuing to take market share from other PC makers such as Dell Inc. (NASDAQ: DELL) and Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) while dominating the tablet market. 2) Unveiling new products while continuing to use its vast capital to enhance the manufacturing process, which in turn will lead to gross margin improvement. 3) The long anticipated iTV launch in the second half of the year.

For Celanese Corp. (NYSE: CE), a technology, chemical and specialty materials company based in Dallas that closed yesterday at $46.50, Jefferies has a $50 price target. Analysts point to improvement in Chinese demand strengthening acetic acid margins in 2014 and 2015, corporate restructuring providing a boost to earnings per share (EPS), and their TCX coal to ethanol technology as an additional “call option” or wildcard for stock performance.

HMS Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ: HMSY), which provides cost containment services to government and private health care payers and sponsors, closed yesterday at $26.32. Jefferies has established a $29 price target. The thesis here is that Medicaid expansion will be bigger than is currently expected, which will accelerate revenue into 2014. HMS is also a top-performing Medicare Recovery Audit Contractor (RAC) and should reprocure that contract this year. Lastly, very conservative 2013 earnings guidance should help to repair Wall St.’s confidence in the company’s ability to drive consistent growth.

Clearly from Jeffries’ viewpoint, the most upside lies in Apple, which got punished last year as investors fretted over slowing growth and capital gains taxes. But Celanese and HMS Holdings also provide investors with a way to diversify their portfolios while adding growth potential.

Lee Jackson

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