Tuesday'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 Covance (NYSE: CVD  ) , which hit a new 52-week high on Tuesday, the tortoise often beats the hare. Here's a look at Tuesday's finest terrapins, courtesy of The Wall Street Journal:

Company

Closing Price

CAPS Rating (Out of 5)

% Change

52-Week Range

Paccar (NASDAQ:PCAR)

$48.12

****

3.89%

$42.15-$65.75

Legg Mason (NYSE:LM)

$70.93

***

3.58%

$68.35-$110.17

Coca-Cola Enterprises (NYSE:CCE)

$25.73

***

3.37%

$19.78-$26.28

Illinois Tool Works (NYSE:ITW)

$55.54

*****

2.89%

$45.60-$60.00

General Growth Properties (NYSE:GGP)

$44.12

**

2.77%

$42.40-$67.43

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

Shares of our top gainer, truck manufacturer Paccar, 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 75,000-plus professional and amateur stock pickers in our Motley Fool CAPS community. But a top rating isn't always a bullish indicator. If it were, Baidu.com, a three-star stock that has been a four-bagger since being added to the Rule Breakers portfolio last year, would long ago have earned a five-star rating.

Give your portfolio a leg up
So let's eschew the five-star stocks here. They're too obvious. Not so with asset manager Legg Mason, which didn't meet Street expectations in reporting quarterly results last month.

But the problems at Legg are actually bigger than that. Some of its signature funds -- including Legg Mason Value Trust, managed by the legendary Bill Miller -- have underperformed recently. That led investors to withdraw a net $10.6 billion in liquidity and equity products in the latest quarter.

Is now the right time to bail out of Legg Mason, as these investors are suggesting? I'm not so sure; some of Legg's well-documented underperformance is due to funds it acquired from Citigroup (NYSE: C  ) . And its overall fund portfolio, 55% of which earns four or five stars from Morningstar today, up from 39% a year ago, is improving.

Here's how Inside Value lead advisor Philip Durell put it when recommending the stock in last December's issue:

In this business, we say that past performance is no guarantee of future results. Yet that's precisely why Legg Mason will succeed in wringing shareholder value out of its Citi acquisition. The company expected some outflows, and there may be more to come before the ship is turned around -- but don't let that deceive you into thinking that a brilliant management team suddenly lost its touch. Just like Bill Miller's loss to the S&P index will be short-lived, Legg Mason will be back on top.

Color me convinced. I've added Legg Mason to my CAPS portfolio as a market-beater for the next five-year period. But that's me. What about you? Would you buy Legg Mason at today's prices? Let us know by signing up for CAPS now. 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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