6 Top Contrarian Calls With Markets at Record Highs

September 15, 2017 by 247lee

Any way you slice it, investors that have been even remotely in the stock market since the bottom was put in back in March of 2009 should have done incredibly well. The S&P 500 posted an intraday low of 666 that year and closed yesterday at 2,495. The question for everybody now is easy: What do you buy when everything seems to be printing all-time highs?

In a new research report, the analysts at Baird are out with what they themselves call “The most interesting stock ideas that were derived from our Estimate Revision Model (ERM) during this month’s review.” They also noted that within the S&P 500, financials, health care and technology remain the sectors with the most favorable companies.

We screened those three sectors and found the Baird analysts’ top large cap contrarian picks. Six companies, two from each of their favored sectors, look like solid bets for investors seeking ideas to add to their portfolios for the balance of 2017 and into next year.


Capital One Financial

This top bank has used relentless advertising to get the firm’s brand well known among consumers. Capital One Financial Corp. (NYSE: COF) is a diversified financial services company that offers a broad array of financial products and services to consumers, small businesses and commercial clients.

Capital One is one of the nation’s 10 largest banks based on deposits. It provides bank lending, treasury management and depository services, as well as credit and debit card products, auto loans and mortgage banking across the United States.

The company reported solid second-quarter results on increased fee income, and credit performance was also better than anticipated. Shares are way down from highs printed back in February.

Shareholders receive a 2.03% dividend. The Wall Street consensus price target is $94.56. Shares closed Thursday at $78.70.

Discover Financial Services

This top financial stock has very wide brand recognition. Discover Financial Services Inc. (NYSE: DFS) is a direct banking and payment services company with one of the most recognized brands in U.S. financial services. Since its inception in 1986, the company has become one of the largest card issuers in the United States. The company issues the Discover card, America’s cash rewards pioneer, and offers private student loans, personal loans, home equity loans, checking and savings accounts and certificates of deposit through its direct banking business.

The company also operates the Discover Network, with millions of merchant and cash access locations; PULSE, one of the nation’s leading ATM/debit networks; and Diners Club International, a global payments network with acceptance in more than 185 countries and territories.

Shareholders receive a 2.4% dividend. The consensus price objective is $72.95. Shares closed most recently at $58.65.

Health Care


This solid health care stock has good upside potential, and many on Wall Street think the growth potential is not appreciated. Cerner Corp. (NASDAQ: CERN) offers hospitals and other health care providers a fully integrated scope of over 50 software applications, including its flagship Cerner Millennium solution. Software applications include traditional electronic medical record and computerized physician order entry solutions, along with other clinical information software for lab, radiology, pharmacy, emergency department and ambulatory care. The company also develops software for financial and administrative applications such as patient accounting, registration and scheduling.

Cerner posted a major bookings beat with $1,636 million in bookings when it reported in the summer, well ahead of guidance, setting the stage for future growth. Despite performance issues in for-profit hospitals, Cerner is seeing changes in buying discussions.

The consensus price target is $69.35, but shares closed above that level on Thursday at $71.94.


This is a life sciences play that may look better than other biotechs for more risk-averse investors. Illumina Inc. (NASDAQ: ILMN) provides sequencing and array-based solutions for genetic analysis. Its sequencing by synthesis technology provides researchers with various applications and the ability to sequence mammalian genomes. It also offers arrays for a range of DNA and RNA analysis applications, including single nucleotide polymorphism genotyping, copy number variations analysis, gene expression analysis and methylation analysis, as well as allowing for the detection of known genetic markers on a single array.

The company also provides various library preparation and sequencing kits to simplify workflows and accelerate analysis, as well as genome sequencing, genotyping and non-invasive prenatal testing services. It serves genomic research centers, academic institutions, government laboratories and hospitals, as well as pharmaceutical, biotechnology, agrigenomics, commercial molecular diagnostic laboratories and consumer genomics companies.

The consensus price target surprisingly is $186.21, while shares closed Thursday at $211.04.



This top mega-cap technology stock pick on Wall Street makes good sense for investors seeking tech exposure. Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO) designs, manufactures and sells internet protocol (IP) based networking products and services related to the communications and information technology industry worldwide.

It provides switching products, including fixed-configuration and modular switches, and storage products that provide connectivity to end users, workstations, IP phones, wireless access points and servers, as well as next-generation network routing products that interconnect public and private wireline and mobile networks for mobile, data, voice and video applications.

Wall Street likes the company’s stellar balance sheet, and the ability for the company’s gross margins to move close to the 65% range on a consistent basis as it moves away from the legacy products sold for switching and routing. Cisco is another company that could benefit from the tax on overseas money being lowered as it has a whopping $70 billion in cash, 90% of which is overseas.

While Cisco reported fiscal fourth-quarter results that beat or matched most estimates, revenue was down year over year for the seventh consecutive quarter. Despite the decline, Cisco has beaten earnings and sales estimates for every quarter since CEO Chuck Robbins took over from John Chambers two years ago, and most think he has the tech giant headed in the right direction.

Shareholders receive a 3.6% dividend. The consensus target price is $35.73. Shares closed Thursday at $32.19.


This company was formed after the merger of RF Micro Devices and Triquint Semiconductor. Qorvo Inc. (NASDAQ: QRVO) is a leading provider of core technologies and radio frequency (RF) solutions for mobile, infrastructure and aerospace/defense applications. Qorvo has more than 7,000 global employees dedicated to delivering solutions for everything that connects the world.

The company has among the industry’s broadest portfolio of products and core technologies. Some analysts are convinced that the higher RF content in new smartphones should offset quarterly unit volatility. They also think strategic mergers and acquisitions could help diversify the company away from mobile dependence and add longer life business cycle products.

The consensus is price target for the stock is $76.04. Shares closed Thursday at $73.48.

Six contrarian picks in sectors that are acting very good and should continue to do so the balance of this year and into 2018. It never hurts to add stocks that are out of favor when the market is very expensive.