We once again want to take look at which stocks are earning top scores in the Stock Score Report. The screener combines both technical and fundamental data when ranking the overall stock universe, and the approach has been incredibly successful at identifying top stock picks.
The overall market remains strong, but there is growing unease over rising interest rates. Interest rates remain low and the recent rate hikes have not raised rates enough for the market to see a meaningful flow of money out of the market and into fixed income assets as of yet, but with each rate hike fixed income assets become more favorable.
If we start to see the market correct, the safest stocks will be the ones that have not only shown recent strength but are growing and have solid underlying fundamentals.
The stocks in our list are all near the top of the rankings, with bullish analyst sentiment and price targets. As such, each of the following stocks appear well positioned to build on their recent gains.
Marathon Petroleum Corp.
Marathon Petroleum Corp (MPC) has been among the top ranked stocks for the last few months and Stock Score Report currently gives it an overall ranking of 92. Oil prices have been on the rise, and analysts remain bullish on energy for the time being. The company put up very strong quarterly numbers in July which began its bullish run, and it will next report earnings on October 25. Analysts expect full year earnings growth of 38% this year, and an additional 44.7% in 2019. The stock is trading just below its all-time high at $82.13 but analysts continue to see a lot of upside in the stock with an average price target of $106.52.
Dave and Busters
Dave and Busters (PLAY) runs a chain of entertainment and dining venues, and the stock has been a top performer over the last six months. Stock Score Report gives PLAY an overall score of 88. The company has done a great job growing profits, with earnings up 30% per annum over the last five years. Earnings growth is slowing, but analysts still forecast average annual earnings growth of 12% for the company over the next five years. The ten analysts that cover the stock are all bullish, including nine strong buy ratings, and have an average price target of $68.56. PLAY is currently trading at $62.50.
Auto parts retailer AutoZone (AZO) was low in the rankings for the majority of 2018, but shares have trended steadily higher since early summer, and the stock is now approaching a new record high. Stock Score Report gives AZO an overall score of 70, with near perfect scores on the technical side. AutoZone posted big earnings beats in May and September which have helped fuel the stock, and the company will not report again until December 18. Earnings have been rising, and are expected to grow 14% this year and 6% in 2019. AZO trades at $790.73 with an average price target of $815.45.
Stock Score Report gives discount retailer Burlington Stores (BURL) an overall score of 87. The stock has remained near the top of the rankings all year, but BURL has traded sideways over the last two months and the technicals have fallen a little. BURL’s technical scares are lower but remain solid, and the fundamental score remains very high at 87. Burlington Stores has grown earnings by 33% over the last five years and is expected to grow profits by 23% per annum over the next five years. The stock’s valuation is bit high with a forward P/E of 21, but the strong growth estimates the stock still has plenty of upside potential. BURL trades at $150.54 with an average price target of $176.94.
Tech titan Microsoft (MSFT) is near the top of the rankings with an overall score of 86 from Stock Score Report. The entire tech sector has been strong over the last year, and MSFT is currently trading just shy of its all-time high. Microsoft has emerged as a leader in cloud computing services, and earnings have been on the rise. Profits are up 10% annually over the last five years, and analysts expect continued double digit growth with profits forecast to rise 12.4% annually over the next five years. Microsoft will report earnings October 25, with a consensus of $0.96 per share, up from $0.84 during the same period last year. MSFT trades at $108.74 with an average price target o $121.05.