The Russell 2000 is home to the top smaller capitalization stocks, and it has been absolutely killed, not only in the recent sell-off, but the index overall performance this year has been dreadful compared to the S&P 500. That may be ready to change, as dollar strength is a currency headwind for big multinationals, and the benefit of lower gas prices is money in the pocket for consumers shopping here at home. Home is where most of the smaller cap companies do the majority of their business.
A new research note from Jefferies highlights 11 top Russell 2000 stocks that the analysts at the firm like right now. We picked the five companies that we felt were the highest profile among investors. All are rated Buy at Jefferies.
Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NYSE: AMD) remains a top name to buy at Jefferies, and it may offer investors big upside. The recent surprise announcement that it was changing CEOs rattled investors, and they took it out in full force selling the stock. This is another one of the stocks that the Jefferies team thinks could benefit from a rebound in PC sales and new design wins. They also feel that with expectations for the stock so low, and that the new CEO poised to do a solid job, that further downside is somewhat mitigated.
The Jefferies price target for the stock is $6, and the Thomson/First Call consensus target is $3.20. AMD closed Tuesday at $2.77. Trading to the Jefferies target would be a gigantic 100%+ gain.
Abercrombie & Fitch Co. (NYSE: ANF) has slowly but surely started to rebuild what once was a very dominant brand, and the company has been utilizing its huge 19 million user following on Facebook to expand consumer awareness. The Jefferies analysts cite continuing share repurchases, leaner inventory, improving fashion offerings and much easier teen comparisons as catalysts that could drive earnings, and the stock, higher soon.
Abercrombie & Fitch investors are paid a 2.5% dividend. The Jefferies price target is a gigantic $60, and the consensus target is $44.83. Shares closed Tuesday at $33.55.
C&J Energy Services Inc. (NYSE: CJES) showed horrible weakness during the recent sell-off, down almost 40% since October , and the Jefferies analysts think it presents a very attractive buying opportunity. The company is an independent provider of premium hydraulic fracturing, coiled tubing, wireline, pumpdown and other complementary oilfield services, with a focus on complex, technically demanding well completions. The Jefferies team feel that the company has clearly proven to be the leader in revenue, which they believe reflects a critical competency in long-term unconventional fracturing services, and it has increased its lead versus the competition in the second quarter.
The Jefferies price target is $39, and the consensus is at $31.56. The stock closed Tuesday at $20.94. Trading to the Jefferies target would be almost a 100% gain for shareholders.
Men’s Wearhouse Inc. (NYSE: MW) is another retail stock that could see huge benefits from an improving economy and added consumer spending ability. Men’s Wearhouse is one of North America’s largest specialty retailers of men’s apparel, with 1,756 stores. The Men’s Wearhouse, Jos. A. Bank, Moores and K&G stores carry a full selection of suits, sport coats, furnishings and accessories in exclusive and non-exclusive merchandise brands, and Men’s Wearhouse and Tux stores carry a limited selection.
Men’s Wearhouse shareholders are paid 1.6% dividend. The Jefferies price target is a very strong $60, and the consensus is set even higher at $64. The shares ended trading on Tuesday at $46.10.
Noodles & Co. (NASDAQ: NDLS) had a super-hot IPO last year that has been absolutely destroyed since, after trading as high as $51.40 in the summer of 2013. It is a fast-casual restaurant chain that serves classic noodle and pasta dishes from around the world. Known as Your World Kitchen, Noodles’ globally inspired menu consists of more than 25 fresh, customizable noodle bowls, salads, soups and sandwiches that are prepared quickly using quality ingredients. With the stock down 40% this year alone, the Jefferies team feels earnings can resume growth in 2015 by as much as 25%.
The Jefferies price target is just $24, and the consensus target is $23.80. The shares closed at $22.87, so those targets may get lifted if earnings improve.
The Russell 2000 often performs well in periods of solid economic growth, and the mid-1990s is a great example. After over a year of severe underperformance, investors may want to carve out some capital for an allocation of these stocks.