These Momentum Stocks Were Laggards Not All That Long Ago

Wall Street is a very fickle mistress. Analysts that work on Wall Street often cannot see the forest for the trees. They are more concerned about defending their reputation than actually doing the heavy lifting that can really help an investor find top stocks to buy before they make their move.

UBS regularly puts out a research report on overwriting options on specific stocks. The most recent edition did not hold any great surprises, as the analysts are reluctant to be too aggressive with the volatility index (VIX) running low, but were inline with the average for the year. However they did point out some names that specifically they suggested not to overwrite. They also made some interesting comments on laggards that had turned into momentum stocks.

Momentum stocks are typically the ones people buy strictly on the notion that, even if they buy high, shares will go higher. This works great in a bull market like we are in, not so great if the market turns down. Here is an interesting list of names from UBS that were lagging the field and turned hot.

Best Buy Co. (NYSE: BBY) was an old time big-box retailer thought to be left for dead. The founder was trying to make waves, and electronics stores as a whole, like Circuit City, were in the Wall Street graveyard. Best Buy revamped its inventory and sales focus, opened up the online sales effort and has totally blown away the short sellers. The Thomson/First Call estimate for the stock is $39, and investors are paid a 1.8% dividend.

Cree Inc. (NASDAQ: CREE) was buried as light emitting diode (LED) sales had stumbled due to overcapacity. The company also overproduced some radio frequency (RF) semiconductor parts and had to slow production at one point to almost a standstill. A resilient housing and automobile market turned the market around and the stock went on a tear. The consensus price target is posted at a stunning $70.

Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) is the epitome of the Wall Street research Titanic voyage. Beloved as the hottest stock ever before a botched IPO, analysts could not stand the stock as it sunk to its high teen lows. Now, at 52-week highs, everybody is a buyer. UBS concedes that despite the hot run, Facebook probably is still under-owned by institutions. The consensus target for the social media giant is $45.

Groupon Inc. (NASDAQ: GRPN) was totally left for dead, despite the fact that it dominated and innovated the entire online coupon industry. Many a struggling business resurrected their models by using Groupon to get consumers in the door. The stock has been off the charts hot. Up 10% in September and 120% over the past year, can it continue the hot streak? The consensus price target for the stock is at $11.50, close to yesterday’s close.

Fusion-io Inc. (NYSE: FIO) was busy going nowhere until Virident was bought by disc drive giant Western Digital Corp. (NASDAQ: WDC). Then all eyes on Wall Street started to focus on which company may be the next acquisition target. Many think the odds are good that Fusion-io is that candidate. The consensus price target is posted at $15. The high target on Wall Street is a staggering $29.

Mosaic Co. (NYSE: MOS) got absolutely crushed as the potash market went into a tailspin this year. The stock was down almost 50% and totally left for dead as the short sellers circled. The potash market has stabilized and the stock has rebounded solidly. The consensus target for this top name is $85, and investors are paid a 2.2% dividend. A move to the target from today’s trading level would be an almost 100% gain for investors.

Nuance Communications Inc. (NASDAQ: NUAN) is the company that brought you the Siri application that you can talk to on your iPhone. The stock also got crushed after an earnings miss this year. Mega-investor Carl Icahn has accumulated a 16.9% share of the company and may be looking for more. The consensus target for the stock sits at $22.

As September began, there were plenty of reasons to be careful about stocks, heading into what is typically the most challenging month of the year. Today will bring some resolution to the beginning of the Federal Reserve’s tapering program. All of the laggards turned momentum stocks are the least affected by the macro events, as many of them may have a binary event to drive them higher. That could prove big for investors.

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