There's no denying that 2013 has been a great year for stocks. However, some stocks have soared without necessarily earning their wings. Let's take a look at four stocks that hit new 52-week highs last week that still have a lot to prove.
Strong equity markets are usually great for the financial-services companies that make trading easier, and E*Trade certainly fits the bill. It's a quality discount broker, giving investors fair commissions on their trades.
However, this has also been a competitive market as brokers begin to offer a growing number of commission-free mutual funds and ETFs. There isn't much of a choice. Discounters need to keep up with their rivals, and offering chunky yields to savers -- something E*Trade used as a major marketing point a few years ago -- just isn't possible in this climate of low rates. E*Trade fell short on the bottom line in its latest quarter, and analysts see revenue sliding 11% this year and clocking in flat come 2014.
Jack In the Box (NASDAQ:JACK)
Flipping burgers hasn't been easy these days, but don't tell that to Jack in the Box investors enjoying fresh highs. "Fast casual" is eating fast food's lunch, and Jack in the Box isn't immune to the trend working against it. Jack in the Box experienced a 1.4% decline in systemwide comps in its latest quarter, and they rose a mere 0.3% over the past year. It's not good when you can't keep up with inflation.
The chain's bottom line has been holding up better as it turns over company-owned units to franchisees, but it's going to have a hard time wooing more willing franchisees if comps continue to languish.
Jack in the Box also has the Qdoba concept, but it hasn't kept pace with more popular burrito-rollers. Jack in the Box announced this summer that it would be closing down 67 of its company-operated locations.
Biglari Holdings (NYSE:BH)
Sardar Biglari may be the next Warren Buffett, but he still has a long way to go. The Biglari Holdings empire consists mostly of Steak 'n Shake and Western Sizzlin', and both chains are struggling these days.
Biglari Holdings saw net operating earnings slide 37% in fiscal 2013. You have to go back four years to find the last time that Steak 'n Shake served up lower operating results. Western Sizzlin' is less of a contributor to results since it's largely franchisee-run, but weak performance there also resulted in lower results this year.
Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC)
Big banking may be showing signs of life, but how excited should the market be getting about banks in a climate where interest rates are too low to attract savers? Money-market funds, after all, are wrapping up the fifth consecutive year of net redemptions. The booming housing market has helped fuel a spike in mortgages, but that business also appears to be slowing down.
Further complicating Wells Fargo's case, a scathing L.A. Times piece over the weekend exposed the "pressure-cooker sales culture" in which employees crossed ethical lines to meet high quotas. It will make it that much harder the next time a Wells Fargo rep tries to talk you into opening an account.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Wells Fargo. The Motley Fool owns shares of Wells Fargo. 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.