Thursday's Big Stocks for Big Profits

When large caps make a run for it, Fools pay attention.

Think of Inside Value pick Microsoft. After years of poor performance, Mr. Softy and his $300-billion-plus market cap began making a move last month, enriching investors who bought and stayed in.

Hence this column. For as much money as there is to be made in fast-movers like Turkcell (NYSE: TKC  ) and Rofin-Sinar Technologies (Nasdaq: RSTI  ) , both of which hit new 52-week highs yesterday, the turtle often beats the hare. Here's a look at Thursday's finest terrapins, courtesy of The Wall Street Journal:

Company

Closing Price

CAPS Rating (out of 5)

% Change

52-Week Range

Gap (NYSE:GPS)

$19.36

**

6.67%

$15.20-$21.04

Freeport-McMoRan (NYSE:FCX)

$111.60

*****

3.24%

$48.85-$120.20

Discover Financial Services (NYSE:DFS)

$17.70

***

2.55%

$16.91-$32.17

Harley-Davidson (NYSE:HOG)

$49.20

**

2.24%

$45.67-$75.87

Northern Trust (NASDAQ:NTRS)

$76.16

**

2.20%

$56.00-$77.15

Sources: The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo! Finance, Motley Fool CAPS.

Shares of our top gainer, clothing retailer Gap, rose after projecting better-than-expected third-quarter earnings. Interesting, but we Fools prefer buy-to-hold stock stories. Are any of our large cap leaders worth owning over the next three to five years?

Not really -- if you believe the 73,000-plus professional and amateur stock pickers in our Motley Fool CAPS community. For them, only Freeport-McMoRan gets the nod, as it has before.

But Gap has made an interesting comeback. Not long ago, it was a languishing one-star stock that CAPS investors loved to short. Moneymaven777 explains why here:

The Gap is out of style. I can't think of one kid in my family or their circle of friends who even walks in the store. Last time I went [into a] Gap was 20 years ago and [I] walked right out because of the gaudy, low selection of colors and expensive prices. Savvy shoppers will pass this store right by.

That was in late August. A bit over a month later, FSUSully was writing this:

I just saw their new commercial. I think they hit it out of the park and like their chances for the upcoming holiday selling season. Admittedly non-scientific but it's [CAPS] so let's take a flier. Of course, I am breaking my own rule by putting an outperform on a one-star stock. We'll see how it does.

So far, Sully, it's added a star and about 3%. But can it go higher? I'm not so sure. Same-store sales declined once again during October and the stock trades for the more than 21 times trailing earnings. Such a multiple is more often reserved for high-growth stocks than for struggling retailers. I'm not a buyer 'til I see more evidence of a turnaround in progress.

What about you? What would you do? Let us know by signing up for CAPS today. It's 100% free to participate.

See you back here tomorrow for more of the best of the biggest.

Cap off your day with related CAPS Foolishness:


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