3 Stocks Ignoring the Big Sell-Off

Although a few analysts have warned that there will probably be a major sell-off in the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI  ) before the year's end, they've been labeled Cassandras, who are always seeing doom and gloom. The fiscal cliff isn't that steep, we've been told, as it will be more like slowly boiling a frog than plunging a lobster into a boiling pot.

Yet, the market continues to plunge, losing 185 points yesterday, and more than 650 points since the presidential election, as it's all but assured we'll get the tax hikes we were told about. Despite the dark clouds massing on the horizon, not every stock was weighed down by their ominous presence. Some actually managed to go the other way and score big gains, even rising by double-digit percentages. Below are three that bucked the trends pushing the Dow lower.

Company

% Gain

Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE: ANF  )

34.4%

Frontline (NYSE: FRO  )

18.6%

Facebook (Nasdaq: FB  )

12.6%

Yet, resist the urge to high-five everyone in the cubicles next to you. Smart investors won't celebrate until they know why their stock surged because, without a fundamental basis for the bounce, these stocks could just as quickly make the return trip down.

Bringing sexy back
Teen retailer Abercrombie & Fitch is known almost as much for what its models aren't wearing as what they are. Yesterday, its stock was knocked out of its socks, as it took off following a much better than expected third quarter earnings report. Same store sales were up 2% in the U.S., suggesting that the one-time fashion leader was once again pulling the kids back in. But it was in the international market where it saw the strongest growth, with sales growing 37%. 

Results were also bolstered by lower costs of cotton -- a commodity that had made more than one retailer's financial statements look like it was eaten by boll weevils as prices soared. Along with tighter inventory controls, Abercrombie regained a lot of the ground it lost over the past year. Yet, even with shares up by more than a third yesterday, the stock is still down 13% year to date, well behind Gap (NYSE: GPS  ) , which is up 84% in 2012, American Eagle Outfitters (NYSE: AEO  ) , up 54%, and even Hot Topic (Nasdaq: HOTT  ) , whose shares are 34% higher than where they started the year.

A quarter's worth of results isn't a trend, though, so let me know in the comments box below if you think Abercrombie & Fitch is sexy again.

A whale of a tale
My old boss had a saying, "It's not so much that I succeed, but that you should fail." That seems to be the thinking behind the rise in oil tanker Frontline yesterday, which jumped almost 19%, after rival Overseas Shipholding Group filed for bankruptcy protection. It listed assets of $4.15 billion, and debt of $2.67 billion, but said it was using the courts to completely resolve its financial woes. It had been looking to get a $215 million loan guarantee from the government to keep it going but, ultimately, it threw in the towel.

Frontline, itself, has been hanging by a thread for a while, but has been feeling the pressure of new sanctions against the terrorist regime in Iran. Previously, the company and Overseas seemingly skirted the sanctions and still loaded oil from the rogue nation, but it was only after the European Union imposed a ban on insuring shippers doing business with Iran, that they finally ceased business there.

Shippers, whether oil tankers or dry bulkers like DryShips (Nasdaq: DRYS  ) , bounced higher in September, after central bankers globally agreed to open the cash spigots, thinking that would spur new demand. It's apparently only weakened the nations further, as their financial crises are as bad as ever, and shipping stocks are sinking again. If Frontline is rising because Overseas is heading to Davey Jones Locker, then these are gains that won't hold very long.

Lock, stock, and barrel
More than halfway through the lockup provisions of its IPO, Facebook has managed to put to bed many of the doubts investors held about its ability to generate mobile ad revenues. Despite a third round of lockup expirations yesterday that put over 800 million more shares into play, its recent third-quarter earnings report indicated that the social networking giant was over the hump, and the stock was bid higher. Analysts view being short Facebook now as a liability, something I don't disagree with.

Although there are two more lockup expirations to go by May 2013, I've rated Facebook to outperform the broad market indexes on Motley Fool CAPS, the 180,000 member-driven investor community that translates informed opinion into stock rates of one to five stars. When shares dipped below $20 back in August, that seemed to be an appropriate valuation, even though they ultimately went as low as $17.55.

The stock is now above $22 a share, 16% higher than where I weighed in, compared to a near 4% decline in the S&P 500. Let me know below if you agree that Facebook's shares still represent a good value, and if you'll "like" the stock in your portfolio.

Whoa, Nelly!

After the world's most-hyped IPO turned out to be a dunce, most investors didn't even want to think about shares of Facebook. But there are things every investor needs to know about this company. We've outlined them in our newest premium research report. There's a lot more to Facebook than meets the eye, so read up on whether there is anything to "like" about it today, and we'll tell you whether we think Facebook deserves a place in your portfolio. Access your report by clicking here.



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