Jefferies Franchise List Mid-Cap Picks Have Big Upside Potential

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All the Wall Street firms that we follow here at 24/7 Wall St. keep a list for their institutional and retail clients of high-conviction stock picks. These are generally the companies they not only like on a longer term basis, but stocks that usually have big upside to the assigned target price. With the third quarter underway, many firms on Wall Street have tweaked their lists to account for potential changes the rest of 2018, and one company has added some outstanding stocks we feel could have outsized upside.

In a recent research note, Steven DeSanctis, the top-notch equity strategist at Jefferies, makes the case that while the market overall is expensive, the stocks with a mid-range market capitalization may hold the best upside potential going forward. Mid-caps are typically defined as those companies with market caps between $2 billion and $10 billion. These stocks tend to be somewhat riskier than large-cap stocks but less risky than small-cap ones.

The analysts screened the Franchise List of top stock picks for mid-cap companies and found 17 that fit the category. We screened that list for the those that look like the best values now, and we found four top plays for investors. We focused on energy and discretionary sectors as they are the cheapest.

Diamondback Energy

This is a top Permian Basin play for more aggressive accounts. Diamondback Energy Inc. (NASDAQ: FANG) is an independent oil and natural gas company headquartered in Midland, Texas, and focused on the acquisition, development, exploration and exploitation of unconventional, onshore oil and natural gas reserves in the Permian Basin in West Texas.

Diamondback’s activities are primarily focused on the horizontal exploitation of multiple intervals within the Wolfcamp, Spraberry, Clearfork and Cline formations.

Wall Street analysts have noted in the past the company’s top-tier asset base, solid accretive additions and financial discipline, which they think allows for not only continued solid cash flow, but could put the company in play as a takeover target. Diamondback continues to drill some of the most economical wells in the United States as efficiencies improve, costs decrease and activity remains in the better regions.

The Jefferies price target on the stock is $165, and the Wall Street consensus target is $161.82. The shares closed trading on Tuesday at $133.45.

Golar LNG

This is the premier company in the world for liquefied natural gas (LNG) distribution. Golar LNG Ltd. (NASDAQ: GLNG) is one of the world’s largest independent owners and operators of LNG carriers and floating storage and regas units (FSRUs). The company has 14 vessels in its fleet, three LNG carriers slated for floating LNG platform (FLNG) conversion, 10 LNG carriers and one FSRU.

Collectively with Golar Partners and Golar Power, the fleet has 16 LNG carriers, three FLNGs/candidates and eight FSRUs. GLNG is the general partner for Golar LNG Partners. Its joint ventures, Golar Power and OneLNG, are focused on FSRU conversions and FLNG projects.

Jefferies has a price target of $35, while the consensus price objective is $36.06. The stock closed Tuesday at $26.59.