MasterCard is a darling among analysts, garnering a whopping 27 “buy” ratings from firms like Wells Fargo, Sterne Agee and RBC Capital. Another seven analysts have a “hold” rating on the stock, while one lone research firm says investors should sell the stock. Even after the rally this year, analysts expect the stock to rise 10 per cent to an average price target of $360.74, according to a survey by Bloomberg.
2. National Semiconductor
Company Profile: National Semiconductor designs and manufactures a range of semiconductor products, most of which are analog and mixed-signal integrated circuits.
2011 Total Return: 81.5 per cent
While many technology stocks have languished this year, National Semi has bucked the trend to be the second-best performer among all stocks in the S&P 500. The strong performance has little to do with how well National Semi is performing operationally. In April, Texas Instruments announced a deal to acquire the company for $25 a share in an all-cash transaction of about $6.5-billion.
For that reason, most analysts who still cover National Semi rate the stock “hold” with an average price target of $25. The deal is expected to close sometime later this year, according to the companies.
1. Cabot Oil & Gas
Company Profile: Cabot Oil & Gas produces and stores natural gas for resale. The company is involved in the Marcellus shale project.
2011 Total Return: 84 per cent
Oil prices have dropped as growth forecasts have been pared back, but Cabot should still see longer-term demand for natural gas. Unlike oil, natural gas is in abundance in the U.S. The company has been performing well, with revenue up 20 per cent in the second quarter. Cabot also reported a doubling of profits.
Even with this dominant performance in 2011 thus far, 12 analysts covering Cabot rate the stock “buy,” including analysts at Brean Murray and Canaccord Genuity. Another eight research firms say investors should hold on to shares. Only one researcher has a “sell” rating on Cabot shares. The average price target of $93 suggests upside potential of more than 30 per cent.