The Stocks Wall Street Loves

Despite all of Wall Street's conflict and contention, a fortunate few companies enjoy unanimous support among professional analysts. If the market's movers and shakers all believe these companies will beat the long-term averages, well, surely they will -- right?

Not so fast! With help from the 170,000 members of Motley Fool CAPS, we'll see whether these highflying favorites deserve analysts' unwavering support.

Stock

CAPS Rating (out of 5)

CAPS Bullish Sentiment

Number of Wall Street Analysts

52-Week Price Change

Cliffs Natural Resources (NYSE: CLF  )

****

96%

12

91%

FriendFinder Network (Nasdaq: FFN  )

*

29%

2

NA

Priceline.com (Nasdaq: PCLN  )

**

73%

19

171%

Source: Motley Fool CAPS. NA = not available. FFN had its IPO on May 11, 2011.

Coal miner's daughter
Heavy-equipment maker Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT  ) is generally viewed as profiting from its acquisition of mining-equipment maker Bucyrus International. With the $8.8 billion deal finally closed, the world's largest construction company is looking to capitalize on the continuing demand for mining services in China, Brazil, and Australia, as well as on commodity prices that remain at elevated levels.

Those same factors should also continue to pad Cliffs Natural Resources' bottom line. The iron-ore and metallurgical-coal producer has had to face down doubts that the economic juggernaut China represents will cool off while facing challenges to its very existence.

Cap-and-tax plans might be otherwise dead here in the U.S., but Australia is moving forward with its plan to tax carbon producers, which critics fear will cripple the economy, raise costs, and achieve little environmental gain. Australia's top coal miners, including BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto (NYSE: RIO  ) , worry that the tax increases are coming right in the middle of a period of rising prices. With Cliffs generating nearly a quarter of its revenues from its Asia-Pacific iron-ore business but more than 37% of its gross profits from the region, there's some concern on that end, too.

While acknowledging many of the risks, CAPS member MarionContrarian thinks that trends still work in Cliffs' favor. Let us know in the comments section below or on the Cliffs Natural Resources CAPS page whether you think the stock is ready to climb the mountain or fall off the cliff.

Friends with privileges
It might not be the Facebook of sex, but the AdultFriendFinder site is certainly a means for bypassing all those annoyingly cute games and status updates and getting right to the heart of, well, meeting someone. Run by FriendFinder Networks, which also owns Penthouse magazine, it's more like online cheating service Ashley Madison and thus a seedier sin stock than strip-club operator Rick's Cabaret.

Maybe it's the "ick factor" that's caused its IPO to be a general failure. The stock, which went public only a month ago at $10 a share, is off by more than 50% already. And the same publishing dynamics that ultimately caused Playboy to go private doesn't say much for the economics behind Penthouse, either.

Highly rated CAPS All-Star EnigmaDude isn't exactly endorsing the lifestyle advocated by the swingers site, but the massive recent interest in the public debuts of social stocks leads him to believe that there is a market for this sort of thing -- in the public markets as well as online.

Risky short-term bet on popularity of social media IPOs. Plus this has a forward PE of 4 and P/S of 0.3. Yahoo has a 1-year target of $13.

Want more friends, or just want to learn more about AdultFriendFinder? Add the FriendFinder Networks stock to your watchlist for complete growth updates.

A glowing opportunity
The social-media phenomenon is also gripping travel these days, with Expedia (Nasdaq: EXPE  ) teaming up with Groupon to offer daily deals in hotels, Travelzoo (Nasdaq: TZOO  ) expanding its Local Deals business, and Priceline.com going with privately held Group Commerce to cut restaurant, spa, and retail deals.

It's hard to complain about Priceline's success, considering it's up 170% over the past year and is the best-performing stock in the S&P 500 over the past five years, soaring some 1,800%. But if the economy double-dips as it seems like it's poised to, I can't see it maintaining the heights it has held. Sure, recessions are good for Priceline because everyone becomes cost-conscious and looks for the cheapest way to travel, but with unemployment rising again, you're not going to be booking a hotel room, no matter how cheap, if you don't have a job.

Yet through its ancillary sites Agoda and Bookings.com, the travel agent has a global reach into growth markets like Asia and Latin America, which CAPS member tbonci sees trumping other concerns.

As Priceline expands globally, the weak dollar will help the value of these shares grow. Recent positive earning surprise and good momentum looking forward. The returns [Priceline] has seen should continue for the next few years.

That might explain why almost 80% of CAPS All-Stars rating Priceline think it will outperform the broad indexes. Add Priceline.com to the Fool's free portfolio tracker for complete coverage of its developments.

Agree to disagree
It pays to start your own research on these stocks on Motley Fool CAPS. Read a company's financial reports, scrutinize key data and charts, and examine the comments your fellow investors have made, all from a stock's CAPS page.

Sign up today for the completely free service, and tell us whether these stocks deserve to have Wall Street marching in lockstep.

Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Priceline.com. 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.

Fool contributor Rich Duprey has no financial position in any of the stocks mentioned in this article. You can see his holdings. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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