Top Strategist Has 5 Growth Stock Portfolio Buys to Add Now

January 22, 2018 by 247lee

The more expensive the market gets, the more long-time investors go back to the strategies that have served them well in the past. One of those strategies is to migrate to value-oriented growth companies when it appears that momentum trading could be wearing out. Given the near 20% run in the S&P 500 last year, and a big start to 2018, it may be a good time to consider some portfolio moves.

In new research report. Steve De Sanctis, the outstanding Small/Mid strategist at Jefferies, stays with his top themes and continues to screen for companies that hit four important metrics: 5% or more sales growth, debt to equity of less than 50%, trailing return on equity above 0% and greater than 20% foreign sales exposure.

Some 15 companies made the grade, and we found five of the larger cap companies that look like outstanding plays as we move farther into fourth-quarter earnings reporting. All are rated Buy at Jefferies.

Align Technology

This stock has been on fire over the past year and a recent pullback could be offering investors a great entry point. Align Technology Inc. (NASDAQ: ALGN) designs, manufactures and markets a system of clear aligner therapy, intra-oral scanners and computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) digital services for use in dentistry, orthodontics and dental records storage in the United States and internationally.

The company’s Clear Aligner segment offers Invisalign Full, a treatment used for a range of malocclusion. Its Invisalign Teen treatment addresses orthodontic needs of teenage patients, such as compliance indicators, compensation for tooth eruption and six free single arch replacement aligners. And its Invisalign Assist treatment is for anterior alignment and aesthetically-oriented cases.

Align’s chief financial officer, John Morici, recently spoke to ongoing traction in China, Japan and EMEA, while certain Greenfield markets (India and Brazil) should play a bigger role in coming years. Furthermore, Morici highlighted that Align’s global supply chain effort is just underway, which should further aid international growth in coming years.

The Jefferies price target for the stock is $280, and the Wall Street consensus price objective is $273.73. The shares closed trading on Friday at $269.46.


This company has been very up and down over the past 52 weeks, and it has frequently been the subject of takeover rumors. Ciena Corp. (NASDAQ: CIEN) is a vendor for high-capacity optical transport and Ethernet switching equipment to carriers, enterprises, cable operators and governments. It specializes in transitioning legacy communications networks to converged, next-generation architectures capable of efficiently delivering a broader mix of high bandwidth services.

The company’s Converged Packet Optical segment offers networking solutions optimized for the convergence of coherent optical transport, Optical Transport Network (OTN) switching and packet switching. Its products comprise the 6500 Packet-Optical Platform, 5430 Reconfigurable Switching System, CoreDirector Multiservice Optical Switches and OTN configuration for the 5410 Reconfigurable Switching System.

Ciena remains a top pick due to an expected multiyear ramp in 100G optical spending, which should continue to accelerate in 2018. The analysts noted this in a report last year:

We see multiple tailwinds helping to drive strong sales growth and the stock remains a top pick for 2018. We believe Verizon’s metro 100G buildout will be a focus for 2018 and the company could see catch-up spend from the now combined Centurylink. In addition, the new Waveserver products should likely continue to ramp as additional customers are added. We think managements guidance for 5% revenue growth in 2018 is likely conservative.

Jefferies has a $30 price target, while the posted consensus target is $26.96. Shares closed trading on Friday at $21.85.

Edwards Lifesciences

This company pioneered the artificial heart valve, and it could be poised for big growth. Edwards Lifesciences Corp. (NYSE: EW) provides products and technologies to treat structural heart disease and critically ill patients worldwide. The company offers transcatheter heart valve therapy products, comprising transcatheter aortic heart valves and their delivery systems for the nonsurgical replacement of heart valves.

The company also provides surgical heart valve therapy products, such as pericardial valves for aortic and mitral replacement, and minimally invasive aortic heart valve system, as well as tissue heart valves and repair products, which are used to replace or repair a patient’s diseased or defective heart valve.

Top Wall Street analysts feel that the company’s acquisition of privately held CardiAQ last year made good sense going forward. CardiAQ has human implants of transcatheter mitrial valves, and Edwards is focused on the mitrial valve opportunity after its very strong success in aortic valves.

The company has also had tremendous success with transcatherter valve replacement. These are rapidly gaining favor in the medical community for use in those patients who are deemed unsuited for open heart surgery, and they are a fast-growing revenue stream for the company.

The $136 Jefferies price target compares with the consensus target of $132.30. The stock closed trading last Friday at $123.91.

Mohawk Industries

This company has benefited from the strong housing market and is also a beneficiary of massive rebuilding after a year of natural disasters. Mohawk Industries Inc. (NYSE: MHK) is a leading building products company, manufacturing and selling flooring products such as carpets, rugs, ceramic tile, wood, stone, luxury vinyl tile and vinyl flooring. The company believes it is the world’s largest flooring company, with operations in 10 countries.

The company sells flooring products under the Aladdin, Columbia Flooring, Durkan, Horizon, IVC, Karastan, Mohawk, Pergo, Portico, QuickStep and SmartStrand brands. The Flooring ROW segment provides laminate and hardwood flooring, as well as roofing elements, insulation boards, medium-density fiberboards, chipboards and vinyl flooring products under the IVC, Moduleo, Pergo, Quick-Step and Unilin brands, and it licenses patents related to flooring manufacturers.

Jefferies has set a massive $345 price target for the shares. The consensus target is $302.83 a share. The stock closed last Friday at $279.14 per share.

Take-Two Interactive Software

This is a top video game producer that has cashed in with some super-hot titles. Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. (NASDAQ: TTWO) is a publisher and distributor of interactive software for gaming platforms from Sony and Microsoft and for the PC. The company is headquartered in New York, with development studios located around the world. Key franchises include Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead, Civilization, Borderlands, and Bioshock, as well as several licensed sports products such as NBA and WWE.

Top analysts are forecasting software compounded annual growth rates of an astonishing 9% between last year and 2019, and Take-Two soundly beat fiscal second-quarter estimates and raised the fiscal year 2018 outlook as Grand Theft Auto and NBA2K drove a very strong digital quarter. The fiscal 2019 outlook is looking increasingly conservative given the fiscal 2018 digital upside. Toss in a solid holiday selling season and the picture remains bright.

The Jefferies price target is $140. The consensus price objective is $126.58, and shares ended last week at $118.05 apiece.

Five companies that not only match up with the top Jefferies themes for this year but hit all the required metrics to be top picks for 2018. These stocks are best suited for accounts with a longer term horizon that also have a higher risk tolerance.