Friday's Big Stocks for Big Profits

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

Think of Motley Fool Inside Value pick Microsoft. After years of poor performance, Mr. Softy and his $300 billion-plus market cap kicked into gear last month, enriching investors who bought and stayed in.

Hence this column. As much money as investors can make from fast-movers like Cognos (Nasdaq: COGN  ) and Motley Fool Hidden Gems recommendation II-VI (Nasdaq: IIVI  ) , both of which hit new 52-week highs last week, the turtle often beats the hare. Here's a look at Friday's finest terrapins, courtesy of The Wall Street Journal:

Company

Closing Price

CAPS Rating (Out of 5)

% Change

52-Week Range

Progressive (NYSE:PGR)

$18.35

**

2.51%

$17.53-$25.16

Avon Products

$40.13

****

2.16%

$31.95-$41.85

Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT)

$109.35

*****

2.02%

$84.89-$113.74

Discover Financial Services (NYSE:DFS)

$17.82

***

0.68%

$16.91-$32.17

BlackRock (NYSE:BLK)

$191.20

***

0.16%

$139.20-$207.32

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

Shares of our top gainer, insurer Progressive, were up for reasons not yet reported. So be it. We Fools prefer buy-to-hold stock stories anyway. 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. Don't read too much into that, though. Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) , like Progressive, has been a two-star stock for much of its life in CAPS -- and it's been a seven-bagger. 

Progressive can't claim anywhere near the same record. But it could be a budding value. CAPS industry tracker NetscribeInsurance explains:

[Progressive's] combined ratio of 86.7% in 2006 has been a decent improvement of 1.4% from 2005, and estimated 96% due to decreasing loss expense ratio. This has enabled it to earn a solid return on capital ... Hence the firm is taking the pricing gloves off to gain market share.

For investor jpmgator06, the thesis for Progressive is based on valuation:

A great, stable business. Along with GEICO, they are the two low cost providers in auto insurance ... Market share will only increase over time. P/E [below]10 and selling at 30% less than [its five-year] P/E average.

I'll add that, as much as I enjoy owning a stake in GEICO via Berkshire Hathaway, I think Progressive's marketing, like its pricing, is comparable -- and occasionally better. I'd be tempted to buy on weakness.

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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