UBS Makes Big Changes to Equity Focus List for November

With the third-quarter earnings season winding down, many of the top firms we cover are starting to make some end of the year adjustments to their lists of top stocks to buy. With most of the indexes essentially flat for the year, many investors are hoping for a traditional year-end rally to help get portfolio on the plus side for 2015.

A new research report from UBS shows some big changes to this firm’s Equity Focus list. With some new top additions, the company is looking to bring the portfolio’s performance up over the final two months of 2015. While the list has underperformed to the benchmark S&P 500, the UBS team feels the portfolio is well positioned for the rest of the year and 2016.

FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) was added to the UBS list and with the holiday season right around the corner, this may prove to be perfect timing for investors. The company provides transportation, e-commerce and business services in the United States and internationally.

Its FedEx Express segment provides various shipping services for the delivery of packages and freight. The FedEx Ground segment provides business and residential money-back guaranteed ground package delivery services, as well as consolidates and delivers high volumes of low-weight and less time-sensitive business-to-consumer packages. The company’s FedEx Freight segment offers less-than-truckload freight services, as well as freight-shipping services. As of May 31, 2015, this segment operated approximately 65,000 vehicles and trailers from a network of approximately 370 service centers.

UBS notes that after underperforming for the past six months, largely based on fears of slower economic growth, its analysts believe the risk-reward profile is very attractive. Restructuring efforts and potential integration of TNT Express are also positives cited.

FedEx investors are paid a small 0.65% dividend. The UBS price target for the stock is $175, and the Thomson/First Call consensus price target is $185.52. The stock closed on Monday at $156.05.

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Also added to the list was Priceline Group Inc. (NASDAQ: PCLN). This stock is a momentum trader’s dream as it continues to push higher. The company operates, which provides online accommodation reservation services, and, which offers hotel, rental car and airline ticket reservations services, as well as vacation packages and cruises through its Name Your Own Price and Express Deals travel services. It also operates, an online accommodation reservation service for consumers in the Asia-Pacific region, and, which offers car rental reservation services.

Trading at 22 times estimated fiscal year 2016 earnings, the travel giant is seen by many Wall Street analysts as an “open-ended” growth story. They continue to see comparisons easing for international bookings and expect that margins will improve in the second half of the year. UBS notes that expectations for a pickup in European consumer spending remain positive, while the company’s dominant market share has helped it to fend off competitive threats.

In a huge new move, the company announced in mid-October that it would work with industry peer Trip Advisor, which will offer some of Priceline’s online travel brands through TripAdvisor’s instant booking platform. That is a move some see as a step to continued consolidation in the industry.

The UBS price target for the stock is $1,520, and the consensus target is $1483.91. The shares closed on Monday at $1,454.

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Two companies were removed from the list: Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. (NYSE: HLT) and Union Pacific Corp. (NYSE: UNP). The analysts cite declining technical fundamentals and quantitative ratings for the former, and for the latter a technical analysis rating that has deteriorated and does not meet standards for inclusion. Lower freight volumes have also been dogging the industry, and that affected the company’s recent earnings negatively.

UBS is seeking to get just the right pieces to fit in and help the portfolio over the last two months of the year. We will continue to monitor changes in the Equity Focus list, and expect there could be some final adjustments in December.