UBS Makes Changes to Its Equity Focus List

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With the second half of the year officially underway and summer in full swing, trading volume has picked up as nervous investors are keeping a close eye on the situation in Greece. Meanwhile, top Wall Street firms are massaging their list of top stocks to buy for high net worth and institutional clients.

A new report from UBS adds a top oil stock to the firm’s highly regarded Equity Focus List. The firm also updated the stocks within the list that have been working the best for investors over the past month and could continue to lead the portfolio.

EOG Resources

This top oil stock is a brand new addition to the Equity Focus List. EOG Resources Inc. (NYSE: EOG) is the top producer in the Eagle Ford Shale, and it has solid positions in both the Bakken and Permian Basin, making it a perfect fit for an integrated looking to expand in those areas should a purchase or merger make sense. In fact, industry chatter online and off picked up in late February indicated that Norway’s Statoil was targeting EOG in a merger or acquisition that could exceed $50 billion. While nothing has been announced, speculation continues to grow that a deal could be in the works for the shale oil giant.

As of the end of last year, the company reported it had total estimated net proved reserves of 2,497 million barrels of oil equivalent, including 1,140 million barrels (MMBbl) of crude oil and condensate reserves, 467 MMBbl natural gas liquid reserves and 5,343 billion cubic feet of natural gas reserves.

The UBS team adds the stock to the list in conjunction with the firm’s recent energy sector upgrade. They see EOG as a high-quality, low-cost U.S. shale oil producer with attractive properties in key shale plays. They believe the company can achieve solid production growth, even if oil prices only increase moderately from current levels. The bottom line is the valuation is very attractive in their view.

EOG investors are paid a small 0.8% dividend. The UBS price target for the stock is $96, and the Thomson/First Call consensus price target is $102.34. Shares close most recently at $87.55.

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Lululemon Athletica

This stock was a May new addition to the UBS Equity Focus list and was the top performer in June, up an outstanding 9%. Lululemon Athletica Inc. (NASDAQ: LULU) is a yoga-themed athletic apparel retailer, which was a top stock from March 2009 to May 2012. But from May 2012 to June 2014 the company suffered from upheavals at the CEO slot and other corporate issues that bogged down growth. The company finally achieved comparable-store sales growth of 5% at brick-and-mortar locations recently, its first quarter of positive growth for the metric in more than a year. At the same time, Lululemon demonstrated broad strength from not only its core women’s line, but also in its men’s business and kid-centric ivivva brand.

The UBS analysts point out that the shares rose on solid April quarter-end results. Same-store sales on a currency neutral basis were better than expected. In addition, the company provided guidance for high single-digit same-store sales growth for this quarter. The specialty retailer does an incredible 19% of total store sales via e-commerce. That is the second highest among companies in the luxury and accessories retail category.

The UBS price target is $67, and the consensus estimate is $69.63. Shares closed Tuesday at $65.30 apiece.

Nike

This stock also had an outstanding June, up a sizzling 6%. Nike Inc. (NYSE: NKE) is a worldwide athletic apparel giant that makes the list as top consumer discretionary name, and it posted very strong fiscal third-quarter earnings in March. The company also has outstanding potential upside from a turnaround in its China business, improvements in gross margins and continued innovation-driven market share gains in both basketball and running footwear. With one of the most recognizable brands in the world, long-term investors may do very well adding shares here, despite the big move up in the stock this year.

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The UBS team points out that, similar to Lululemon, Nike is benefiting from consumer preferences for “athleisure.” With the company’s extensive product line and recognizable worldwide branding, the stock continues to roll year after year.

Nike investors are paid a 1.04% dividend. The UBS price target is $122, and the consensus target is posted at $116.13. Nike closed at $108.02 per share.

MetLife

This company is a top life insurance stock, and it trades at a low 8.95 times forward earnings estimates. MetLife Inc. (NYSE: MET) is a leading global provider of insurance, annuities and employee benefit programs. MetLife holds leading market positions in the United States, Japan, Latin America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. The UBS team sees the insurer as a key beneficiary of higher interest rates and an improving labor market. They also note the stock is trading below book value.

The UBS team reports that the stock rose more than 7%, driven by higher long-term interest rates. Life insurance companies are one of the prime beneficiaries of higher interest rates, which will drive higher investment returns on their fixed income portfolios.

MetLife investors are paid a very solid 2.68% dividend. UBS has a $55 price target, but the consensus price objective is $59.73. MetLife closed Tuesday at $55.99 per share.

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The top-performing stocks and the new member to the Equity Focus list are great additions to an aggressive growth portfolio. All are dominant players in their respective arenas, and they look to continue to generate strong returns for investors the rest of this year and beyond.