3 Stocks Near 52-Week Highs Worth Selling

Osama Bin Laden is dead, the precious-metals market is as volatile as ever, and hundreds of companies are reporting earnings -- you know, just another ho-hum week in this two-year-plus-long rally. For bulls, these rallies may seem like a dream come true. For skeptics like me, they're opportunities to see whether companies trading near their 52-week highs really deserve their current valuations.

Keep in mind that some companies deserve their lofty prices. Credit giant MasterCard (NYSE: MA  ) reported nothing short of phenomenal results this week. The company bucked the trend of rising food and gasoline prices, pointing instead to increased consumer spending, which drove revenue up 15% over the year-ago period. But some companies might deserve a kick in the pants. Here's a look at three companies that could be worth selling.

Patent cliff
I'm not quite done picking on Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY  ) just yet. The company rallied to a new 52-week high this week following an FDA decision to approve Tradjenta. The drug, which was developed in collaboration with Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals to treat Type 2 diabetes, marks a much-needed win for Eli Lilly, but it does almost nothing to ease the company's crippling patent-expiration worries.

As I highlighted last month, Eli Lilly faces the most immediate patent troubles of any large pharmaceutical company, with its best-selling drug Zyprexa, along with popular names Cymbalta and Humalog, all coming off patent before 2013 is over. With more than half of Eli Lilly's revenue stream at risk of a serious crunch from generic vultures such as Teva Pharmaceutical, I'd consider putting these shares back in the bottle.

Caffeine high
I love a cup of joe just as much as, if not more than, most people out there. I couldn't function in the morning without my coffee. And a few among us have shown that they'll pay almost any price to get their hands on some. Since a year ago, coffee futures prices have more than doubled as stockpiles have dropped modestly and the U.S. dollar has weakened. This price spike has brought with it an almost speculative feel that might make selling iPath DJ AIG Coffee (NYSE: JO  ) seem like a smart idea.

Historically, coffee has been a boom-or-bust commodity, so trading out when it hits extreme highs often makes sense. It’s possible that a simple rally in the U.S. dollar or milder weather patterns in coffee-growing regions could easily pop this speculative bubble. The long side of this trade has indigestion written all over it.

Do you Yahoo!?
Current shareholders of Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO  ) may want to reconsider their positions following the rise of their company's stock to a new 52-week high this week. The run-up causes me to scratch my head, since Yahoo!'s quarterly results two weeks ago were, for lack of a better word, lousy.

The company reported a year-over-year revenue decline of 6%, blaming its poor results in part on its search agreement with Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) . Yahoo! has attempted to execute a turnaround campaign for years, and its longer-term stock-price downtrend has been indicative of its multiple failures to achieve this end goal. My question is, how much longer are shareholders willing to stick around, especially given the company's flattish revenue growth, when Google is growing at more than 20% per year?

What's your opinion on these companies? Are they sells or belles? State your case in the comments section below and consider adding Eli Lilly, iPath DJ AIG Coffee, and Yahoo! , as well as your own personalized list of companies, to My Watchlist.

Google and Microsoft are Motley Fool Inside Value recommendations. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers selection. Teva Pharmaceutical and Yahoo! are Motley Fool Global Gains picks. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call position on Microsoft. The Fool owns shares of Teva Pharmaceuticals, Google, and Microsoft. Alpha Newsletter Account, LLC, owns shares of Microsoft.

Fool contributor Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. He would like to remind you not to forget about our friends in Japan, who could still use a helping hand. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy that never needs to be sold short.


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  • Report this Comment On May 06, 2011, at 4:26 PM, 1caflash wrote:

    Sean, your article is thoughtful, but I disagree with you regarding LLY. Its CEO seems sensible and the company is partnering with other fine folks trying to improve the lives of millions. I lived with a diabetic for over 21 years. I know how terrible that condition can be. Eli Lily pays a healthy dividend. I am sure its management is seeing the future and has plans in place to keep up the good work. LLY is in my DRIP.

  • Report this Comment On May 06, 2011, at 6:49 PM, rulebreaking wrote:

    LLY is well priced,it carries value and patent fears are already priced below 40$.

    They're expanding in emerging market and they have cash so that they can eventually boost their pipeline through acquisitions,at 38$ I can't see any threat....

  • Report this Comment On May 06, 2011, at 6:51 PM, rulebreaking wrote:

    about yahoo what about their stake in alibaba?Do u know how much is it worth?

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