Wednesday's Big Stocks for Big Profits

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

Think of Microsoft. After years of poor performance, Mr. Softy and his $300-billion-plus market cap began making a move over the summer, enriching investors who bought and stayed in.

Hence this column. For as much money as there is to be made in fast-movers like Phoenix Technologies (Nasdaq: PTEC  ) and Rule Breakers recommendation Millennium Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: MLNM  ) , both of which hit new 52-week highs yesterday, the turtle often beats the hare. Here's a look at Wednesday's finest terrapins, courtesy of The Wall Street Journal:

Company

Closing Price

CAPS Rating (out of 5)

% Change

52-Week Range

Freeport-McMoRan (NYSE:FCX)

$104.00

*****

2.58%

$48.85-$120.20

Avon Products (NYSE:AVP)

$40.43

****

1.23%

$31.95-$41.85

Archer Daniels Midland (NYSE:ADM)

$37.75

****

1.02%

$30.20-$39.65

Constellation Energy (NYSE:CEG)

$96.68

*****

0.96%

$65.51-$98.96

Williams Companies (NYSE:WMB)

$34.82

****

0.78%

$25.17-$37.74

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

Shares of our top gainer, copper and gold miner Freeport-McMoRan, appear to have benefited from an upgrade by analysts at Canaccord Adams. 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?

Well, the answer for all of them is yes -- if you believe the 74,000-plus professional and amateur stock pickers in our Motley Fool CAPS community. But a top star rating isn't always a bullish indicator. If it were, thenApple, which has spent much of its life in CAPS as a two-star stock, would have long ago had a five-star rating.

You're up, Mr. Williams
So let's eschew the five-star stocks here. They're too obvious. Not so with four-star-rated Williams Companies. Left for dead in 2004, Williams, one of the largest natural-gas producers in the Rocky Mountain region, has realized dramatic improvements in its operating efficiency:

Metrics

Trailing 12 Months

2006

2005

2004

Return on capital

7.2%

5.7%

5.9%

5.1%

Gross margin

18.1%

15.6%

13.6%

13.7%

Source: Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's.

A friendlier operating environment probably helps. CAPS investor Spenculate explains:

Natural gas prices are rising just as demand is increasing (winter season will soon be upon us); if [Williams] was able to post a better than expected [third] quarter as prices were down, just imagine what the [fourth] quarter results could be ...

I'll add that Williams recently boosted capacity in the Washington, D.C., and Baltimore metro areas, which suggests it will be able to take full advantage of higher-priced demand during the winter months. I'd consider opening a position on any meaningful pullback in the shares.

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:


Read/Post Comments (0) | Recommend This Article (1)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

Be the first one to comment on this article.

DocumentId: 540313, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 4/19/2014 1:25:40 AM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...


Advertisement