Merrill Lynch Adds New Stocks to Buy to Prestigious US 1 List

With the market moving back and forth seemingly every day, many Wall Street firms are also shuffling the deck in their lists of top stocks to buy. In a new report, Merrill Lynch makes some changes to the firm’s highly regarded US 1 stocks list.

The Merrill Lynch US 1 list is developed to represent a collection of the firm’s very best investment ideas that are drawn from the universe of Buy-rated U.S.-listed stocks (including American depositary shares) covered by the equity analysts. The list is managed with a goal of providing superior investment performance over the long term, as opposed to quick trading ideas.

Merrill Lynch adds two new outstanding stocks to the list. In addition, Equinix Inc. (NASDAQ: EQIX) is removed, though it remains Buy-rated at Merrill Lynch and has had an excellent run for investors.

Boise Cascade

This company may be a strong beneficiary of continued construction in the United States. Boise Cascade Co. (NYSE: BCC) is one of the largest producers of plywood and engineered wood products (EWP) in North America and a leading U.S. wholesale distributor of building products. Its Wood Products segment manufactures structural and industrial plywood panels, as well as EWP, such as laminated veneer lumber, I-joists and laminated beams for use in headers and beams. The company’s Building Materials Distribution segment distributes building materials, such as EWP, oriented strand board, plywood and lumber, as well as general line items comprising siding, metal products, insulation, roofing and composite decking.

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The Merrill Lynch team makes the case that the very cheap multiple given to the stock does not take into account the large leverage to the housing market. They also feel the company may consider a dividend or a stock buyback, or even make an acquisition. Any of these moves would be very bullish for shareholders. They also add that wood stocks typically outperform in the second half of the year.

The Merrill Lynch price target for the stock is $42. The Thomson/First Call consensus price target is $41.40. The stock closed Tuesday at $37.32 per share, up over 6% on the day.

Hain Celestial

This company has great potential as the demand for organic food continues to grow. Hain Celestial Group Inc. (NASDAQ: HAIN) manufactures, markets, distributes and sells natural and organic products in approximately 50 countries worldwide. The company has a plethora of very well-known brands that are extremely popular with consumers and many on Wall Street feel that strategic investments, combined with continued efforts to contain costs, increase productivity and enhance cash flows and margins will enable solid earnings results to continue.

The Merrill Lynch analysts see the stock as one of the best growth stories in the industry, and it continues to be of the firm’s top ideas in the food sector. They cite the combination of solid long-term growth prospects, combined with near-term catalysts like easier sales comparison, as a big plus. They also point to the recent massive increase in short interest, which could catapult the stock higher on good news if a short-squeeze is forced.

The Merrill Lynch price target is $70, and the consensus target is set at $66.59. The stock closed up smartly Tuesday at $64.53.

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As the markets continue to bounce up and down, both of these stocks make good sense. They both are in sectors that should see continued solid growth the rest of the year. They also avoid the momentum trap that could be a killer in a steep market sell-off.

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