2014's Underperforming Large-Cap Stocks That Could Be 2015 Winners

By almost all measures, the stock market is getting expensive. While many pundits, especially the uber bulls that talk on financial TV every day, remain very positive, the fact of the matter is, unless earnings really spike next year, something has to give. With that in mind, the U.S. equity market is still a great place to be, and the analysts at Jefferies may have a good plan for where to rotate some 2014 winners and losers.

In a new research report, the Jefferies team makes the data case that the worst-performing quintile of S&P 1500 stocks in the January to November time period has typically outperformed the market by about 4% in the two months from the beginning of December through January. In the bottom part of the quintile, the bottom 10% of performers have been up 5.4%.

The Jefferies analysts put forth a list of 31 stocks they think will outperform over the next year. All are rated Buy at Jefferies. We screened for the top large-cap names in the list.

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Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) is still a top name this year on Wall Street, and forward valuation may be the main call at Jefferies for membership on the laggards list. While the company is forging ahead with the new 737 Max and 767 models, continued problems with the 787 Dreamliners still plague the aerospace giant, but at least they look closer to a more complete resolution. The Jefferies analyst says that orders for the year should clearly top shipments, lifting backlog by more than a double amount versus the year-end 2013 total of $423 billion.

Boeing investors are paid a 2.2% dividend. The Jefferies price target for the aerospace giant is $165. The Thomson/First Call consensus price target is at $150. The stock closed Tuesday at $132.28.

CBS Corp. (NYSE: CBS) may be in the best position of all the broadcast networks, and it is one of the top laggard picks at Jefferies. With an outstanding prime time lineup; solid sports franchises like the NFL, March Madness College Basketball, the Masters; and other top programming, the venerable network has overall been an outstanding stock for shareholders. CBS again is leading in the fall ratings and is poised to continue the network’s programming dominance in 2015. The broadcasting giant is now in the midst of a significant stock repurchase, and many on Wall Street expect CBS to shrink its share base by up to 25% over the next two years.

CBS investors are paid a 1.1% dividend. While the Jefferies price target is $69, the consensus estimate is $63. CBS closed Tuesday at $54.41 a share.

Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) is a company that the Jefferies team thinks is on the prowl to look for a merger partner, or an accretive acquisition, to help grow sales. With two companies that were suspected to be key targets off the table, the analysts feel that the pharmaceutical giant may turn the attention to a deal with foreign companies, with generic giant Mylan and GlaxoSmithKline as leading contenders. With a possible split-up within the company coming by 2017, a large, move-the-needle deal becomes more likely.

Pfizer investors are paid a solid 3.3% dividend. The Jefferies price target is $40, and the consensus target is posted at $34.19. Pfizer closed Tuesday at $31.57 a share.

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Starbucks Corp. (NASDAQ: SBUX) is one of Jefferies favorite picks in large-cap growth. It dominates the retail coffee business in the United States, and the international growth is helping to boost earnings. In fact, the brand has become so ubiquitous that consumers often just say “Let’s grab a Starbucks.” Despite a pricing point that is higher than others, the company continues to add new items at its stores, which have been received well. The Jefferies team loves its global brand and huge customer awareness. They also point out that growth in China is just starting and could prove to be huge.

Starbucks investors are paid a 1.6% dividend. Jefferies has an $88 target price for the stock. The consensus target is $89.63, and shares close at $80.37.

T-Mobile US Inc. (NYSE: TMUS) is a stock in which offers and rumors continue to fly around Wall Street, despite the fact that all the deals that were in play in 2014 are off the table. The Jefferies analysts believe that the market is improperly discounting the company’s subscriber momentum and growing free-cash-flow. With the stock down 20% from the highs printed in the summer, investors will be well rewarded if the Jefferies EBITDA numbers, which are 9% higher than Wall Street, are hit.

The Jefferies price target is $35, and the consensus target is slightly higher at $35.88. Shares closed Tuesday at $27.98.

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These top large-cap laggards are very good stocks to roll portfolio gains to for investors looking to stay weighted to equities but wanting to move away from either pricey momentum stocks or stocks that are overextended.

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