Wall Street experts surveyed by CNN are largely "throwing in the towel" on hope for a stock market rebound and now expect the S&P to close at 1253 points, less than one percent below the year's start.
CNN Money reports, "investment strategists and money managers expect the S&P 500 (SPX) to claw back almost about 5% before the ball drops in Times Square, but that still won't be enough to end the year in black."
The news that the market could end on near-equal footing with the years' opening is not necessarily bad news -- it could be worse -- but these expectations show "bullishness from earlier this year has faded. Even as recently as August, strategists were forecasting the S&P 500 to end 2011 up 7%, with only one survey participant thinking the S&P would finish in the red."
One of the reasons investors are changing their tune is an increasingly dismal outlook for the fourth quarter. The end-of-year shopping season is one of the strongest for the economy, and while it may cause an uptick in the markets, it is unlikely to change the minds of investors who currently lack confidence in the market.
Of course, all of this negativity could present an opportunity for contrarian investors who often see excessive pessimism as a signal to buy in.
Are you looking for contrarian ideas?
The stocks mentioned below are bucking the trend -- they have all seen an increase in the current year EPS analyst projection over the last 30 days. For each of these stocks, the price change has lagged the change in EPS projections, indicating that these stocks may still have to price in some good news.
In addition, all of these companies have seen short covering over the last month (i.e., short-sellers are reducing bets that these stocks are going to decline).
Short-sellers and Wall Street analysts think these stocks are expected to see more upside over the coming weeks, contradicting the bearish sentiment expressed by recent surveys. Do you think any of these stocks worth a closer look?
Use this list as a starting point for your own analysis. (Click here to access free, interactive tools to analyze these ideas.)
1. Western Refining
2. Cal-Maine Foods
4. Atwood Oceanics
5. Spreadtrum Communications
Interactive Chart: Press Play to compare changes in analyst ratings over the last two years for the stocks mentioned above. Analyst ratings sourced from Zacks Investment Research.
Kapitall's Rebecca Lipman does not own any of the shares mentioned above. Data sourced from Finviz.
The Motley Fool owns shares of Cal-Maine Foods and Western Refining. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Atwood Oceanics. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not 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.