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Stan Wong.

Stan Wong is director of wealth management and portfolio manager, Stan Wong Private Wealth Management, ScotiaMcLeod. His focus is on North American large caps and ETFs.

Top Picks:

Google Inc. (GOOGL NASDAQ)

Google's valuation continues to be compelling amongst growth-oriented technology companies. GOOGL trades at a forward price-earnings multiple of 19x with a long-term expected earnings growth rate of 18-20 per cent. Using a PEG ratio measure, the stock (at about 1.1x PEG) trades at a valuation that is cheaper than over 85 per cent of other S&P 500 components. Google has executed well in its core business areas and is expected to continue growing well organically and through strategic acquisitions. As the U.S. and global economy rebounds, GOOGL should benefit from greater demand for internet search engine advertising. The recent underperformance of Google's stock versus the sector and the broader market this year presents a good buying opportunity.

MetLife Inc. (MET NYSE)

MetLife is one of the largest insurance and financial services companies in the U.S., and the largest U.S. life insurer. The shares appear undervalued on both a relative and historical basis. A recovery in the U.S. economy and labour market should provide a catalyst to the share price amid higher demand for MET's insurance and investment products. MET currently trades at a modest forward price-earnings multiple of 9.5x with an expected long-term earnings growth rate of 10-12 per cent. MET pays a decent dividend yield of 2.5 per cent with a strong expected dividend growth rate of about 10 per cent per year over the next few years.

Starbucks Corp. (SBUX NASDAQ)

Starbucks is the world's leading coffee retailer with over 20,000 stores operating in over 60 countries. It is a premier large-cap growth name with one of the most recognized brands in the world. Starbucks' expansion into tea, juices along with fresh food offerings is viewed very positively. With the U.S. economy rebounding and energy costs falling, SBUX should perform well as consumers become more confident. Longer term, the company's continued store expansions in international markets will drive a 15 per cent or greater earnings growth profile.

Past Picks: October 17, 2013

Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS TSX)

Then: $60.81; Now: $67.58 +11.13%; Total return: +15.43%

Michael Kors Holdings Ltd. (KORS NYSE)

Then: $73.75; Now: $76.53 +3.77%; Total return: +3.77%

Toyota Motor Corp. (TM NYSE)

Then: $130.10; Now: $128.60 -1.15%; Total return: -1.67%

Total return average: +5.84

Market outlook:

Recent equity market moves have been impacted by two major themes – monetary stimulus overseas and tumbling oil prices. Central banks overseas have helped push broader equity markets higher with additional monetary policy stimulus while a dormant OPEC group have prompted oil prices to fall to multi-year lows and energy stocks to slump. In the end, lower energy prices and continued low interest rates should benefit the U.S. consumer sector and act as a tailwind for global economic growth. As we look towards the calendar year, we expect equities to continue grinding higher but with more normalized (higher) volatility as U.S. interest rates rise. In our portfolios, we continue to prefer U.S. equities over Canadian equities and have focused particularly on U.S. large-cap, cyclical names to reflect the improving U.S. economy.