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Top Stocks to Buy Now by Sector From Merrill Lynch U.S. 1 List

At 24/7 Wall Street we try to keep our readers up on changes and additions to the preferred list of stocks that are recommended to clients from the large Wall Street firms. One problem is that many of the lists tend to duplicate each other with very similar names and strategies. A new addition to the Merrill Lynch U.S.1 list prompted us to review their top stocks to buy, and they are not the same old monkey-see, monkey-do ideas that are so common on Wall Street. Here are some of the top stocks rated Buy by Merrill Lynch by sector.

American International Group Inc. (NYSE: AIG) is a top financial sector name to buy on the US 1 list and has performed outstanding for investors over the past two years. AIG is the marketing name for the worldwide property-casualty, life and retirement and general insurance operations of American International Group. After being buried during the financial crisis of 2008, the company has slowly, but surely not only fought its way back to prominence but posted stellar earnings. Investors are paid a 1% dividend. The Merrill Lynch price target for the stock is $60. The Thomson/First Call consensus target is at $56.60. AIG closed Tuesday at $52.49 a share.

Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. (NASDAQ: CHKP) remains one of the top tech stocks to buy on Wall Street for a security presence, and Merrill Lynch, like much of Wall Street, thinks Internet and data security is crucial. The company continues down the path of its Software Blade strategy and is arguably more candid about its installed base advantage where it will look to continue to consolidate product features within its platform and provide customers a superior cost of ownership. This stock is rated Buy at Merrill Lynch. The consensus target is $72.52. Checkpoint closed Tuesday at $64.20.

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Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) is a top consumer discretionary pick on the US 1 list and is pushing hard to gain fans in China. The company has struck a multiyear deal with one of the same Chinese media companies with which DreamWorks has a deal, Shanghai Media Group, to begin producing content specifically for a Chinese audience. Disney as a company is not new to working in China. Disneyland Hong Kong has been operating since 2005. Investors are paid a 1.1% dividend. The Merrill Lynch price target is $94, and the consensus target is lower at $88.29. Disney closed trading Tuesday at $81.09.

Hess Corp. (NYSE: HES) is a top energy name on the US 1 list. Recently the company has been the subject of takeover speculation. With a market capitalization of $28 billion, the company could easily fall prey to larger integrated as a quick bolt-on acquisition to boost growth. With its market cap of $28 billion, one of the big boys could take a swing at the stock. Investors are paid a 1.1% dividend. The Merrill Lynch price target is $120, and the consensus target is $96.48. Hess closed at $88.03.

NXP Semiconductors N.V. (NASDAQ: NXPI) is a tech company that fits perfectly into the Merrill Lynch US 1 top names. The company recently announced that it is now the world’s number one supplier for small-signal discretes. Building on its expertise in high-performance mixed signal electronics, NXP is driving innovation in the automotive, identification and mobile industries, as well as in such application areas as wireless infrastructure, lighting, health care, industrial, consumer tech and computing. The Merrill Lynch price target is $76, and the consensus target is $69.47. Shares closed trading on Tuesday at $60.79.

St. Jude Medical Inc. (NYSE: STJ) is a top health care idea on the Merrill Lynch US 1 list for 2014. The analysts think that the company should benefit from both increased pipeline visibility and potential industry consolidation long term. In addition, they expect accelerating revenue growth to match up with the improving pipeline, which gives investors two strong attributes for the stock the rest of the year. Investors are paid a 1.7% dividend. The Merrill Lynch price target is $80. The consensus estimate is $69.95 St. Jude closed Tuesday at $64.13.

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Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) is another top consumer discretionary name on the US 1 list. The stock is also the new darling of Warren Buffett and many of the top hedge funds. Berkshire Hathaway recently disclosed a $528 million purchase of the stock. He was followed by hedge fund managers Kyle Bass and John Paulson, who bought the stock. The shareholders are paid an outstanding 4.3% dividend. The Merrill Lynch price target is $49.15, and the consensus is at $53.72. Verizon closed Tuesday at $48.65.

The Merrill Lynch names are the kind of large cap stocks that should continue to fare well the rest of the year. They avoid the “same-old-same-old” club despite the fact they are very well known and offer long-term investors top notch portfolio additions.