As the bull market enters its sixth year, the S&P 500 continues to set new highs and intermediate-term measures of market strength have turned positive since February. The old Wall Street adage of the “trend is your friend” seems firmly in place, and currently the trend is still up. History is also a guide, and in mid-term election years going back to 1930 there have been some serious corrections. The question is, will history repeat itself this year?
The chief strategist at Piper Jaffray released his report for March. Much of it details how the second and third quarters typically behave in the mid-term years after a solid first quarter. The data are somewhat unnerving, in that in these election years typically the second and third quarters are weak, and the year is finished by a strong fourth quarter. Piper Jaffray suggest overweighting the health care, consumer cyclical and technology sectors.
Here are the top Piper Jaffray stocks to buy in the recommended sectors.
Eli Lilly & Co. (NYSE: LLY) is a top health care sector name to buy. The company had some recent positive news for investors. The Piper Jaffray experts expect Revel to show that the drug ramucirumab delivers a 1.5- to 2-month benefit over docetaxel in second line non-small cell lung cancer, and that would be clinically very meaningful for the company. Ramucirumab sales are forecast at $200 million in 2015 and $2 billion in 2020. Investors are paid a very solid 3.3% dividend. The Thomson/First Call consensus price target is $57.53. Shares closed Wednesday at $59.20.
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: REGN) has been a monster as well, and most Wall Street firms expect it to stay one. With treatments for everything from macular degeneration to colorectal cancer, the company continues to exploit an extraordinary pipeline. The company is viewed by Piper Jaffray and other firms as a leading candidate to be one the next generation biotech large cap leaders. The consensus target is $344.68. Regeneron closed Wednesday at $339.75.
Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd. (NYSE: TEVA) is one of the world’s largest generic drug manufacturers, and it is well positioned to take advantage of the high number and dollar amount of branded drugs going off-patent over the next few years. An increased commitment to capital redeployment combined with its low valuation should reward shareholders. The company was recently added to the Piper Jaffray model portfolio. The consensus price target for this market leader is $48.58. Stockholders are paid a 2.40% dividend. The stock closed Wednesday at $48.76 per share.
Altera Corp. (NASDAQ: ALTR) is a top technology name to buy at Piper Jaffray. The company is a leader in China, and recent data shows that is not changing anytime soon. 4G network deployment-related orders from Huawei surged since December and January and are extending into at least June, per Baird’s recent field research. Huawei is a 10%customer of Altera. The multiyear growth trend in China wireless infrastructure deployments should act as a driver for Altera in years to come, with LTE-related capital expenditures expected to increase exponentially in the next two years. Investors receive a 1.6% dividend. The consensus price target is $38.26. Altera closed Wednesday at $36.00.
Oracle Corp. (NYSE: ORCL) is another top blue chip technology name to buy for 2014 at Piper Jaffray. The company has sputtered over the past year, giving investors a prime entry point to the stock. The technology giant is making a push into cloud computing, application virtualization and software-defined networking. Application virtualization and software-defined networking should be key areas of revenue growth going forward. Shareholders are paid a 1.2% dividend. The consensus price target is $39.36. Oracle closed Wednesday at $38.52.
Riverbed Technology Inc. (NASDAQ: RVBD) is the leader in application performance infrastructure, delivering the most complete platform for location-independent computing. Location-independent computing turns location and distance into a competitive advantage by allowing IT to have the flexibility to host applications and data in the most optimal locations while ensuring applications perform as expected, data is always available when needed and performance issues are detected and fixed before end users notice. The consensus price target is $19.90. Shares ended Wednesday at $20.06.
Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (NASDAQ: GT) is a top consumer cyclical play from Piper Jaffray on the automobile replacement cycle. The company has also been named the world’s most admired motor vehicle parts company by Fortune magazine. Goodyear topped the list of leading companies from around the world in five of the nine key attributes evaluated: people management, use of assets, social responsibility, long-term investment and product/service quality. “This recognition is a credit to the hard work of 69,000 Goodyear associates around the world,” said Richard J. Kramer, Goodyear chairman and chief executive officer. “It validates the success of our strategy roadmap and serves as a meaningful mile marker on our journey toward creating sustainable value,” he added. The consensus price target is $27.19. Goodyear closed Wednesday at $27.15.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. (NYSE: HOT) is another top consumer cyclical play at Piper Jaffray. The company is one of the leading hotel and leisure companies in the world, with nearly 1,200 properties in 100 countries, and 181,400 employees at its owned and managed properties. Starwood is a fully integrated owner, operator and franchisor of hotels, resorts and residences with the following internationally renowned brands: St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, W, Westin, Le Méridien, Sheraton, Four Points by Sheraton, Aloft and Element. Investors are paid a 1.7% dividend. Starwood closed Thursday at $80.10.
While the Piper Jaffray 2,100 S&P 500 goal looks good on paper, the history for election cycle mid-term years is somewhat ominous. The poor second- and third-quarter potential is one for investors to keep in mind. The growing geopolitical tension with Russia and other countries just adds to the overall unease. A good tactic would be to take some profits and hold some cash while waiting for a sizable pullback to add for what should be a strong fourth quarter.
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