Top stocks for the current week

Through the course of the year we have been taking weekly looks at the rankings on the Stock Score Report in search of high-quality stocks that have not only shown recent strength but look poised to build on their recent gains moving forward.

The advantage of the Stock Score Report is that the ranking system combines both technical and fundamental data when ranking the overall stock universe.

With the markets at record levels, it is more important than ever to focus on stocks with upside potential. A lot of stocks have put up big gains during the year, but these same stocks run the risk of profit taking if the overall market turns lower.

In order to invest in stocks with recent strength while minimizing the potential of a sell off, you have to make sure that the stock’s underlying fundamentals show strength to warrant additional upside.

The following stocks have not only been strong in recent months but appear ready to build on those gains in the months ahead.

Crane Co.

Crane Co. (CR) has been one of the hottest stocks over the last three months, and shares are currently just shy of their all-time high. The recent trading strength earns the stock an overall score of 89 on the Stock Score Report. The technicals are fantastic and the company’s fundamentals score an 89. The company is expected to grow earnings by 27% during the current year, and on average 14.2% annually the next five years. Crane will report Q3 numbers on October 22, with the consensus calling for earnings of $1.46, up from $1.13 during the same period last year. CR trades at $99.08 with an average price target of $112.67.

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Chart courtesy of stockcharts.com

Honeywell Int’l

Honeywell Int’l (HON) is a diversified technology and manufacturing company. The company is expected to grow earnings by around 15% during the current year, and looking ahead analysts forecast average annual earnings growth of 10.4% over the next five years. The stock broke out to the upside over the summer, and shares are currently just shy of their all-time high. Stock Score Report gives HON an overall score of 83, with strong rankings in both technical and fundamental elements. Analysts continue to see upside in the stock, with an average price target of $182.42 versus its current trading price of $165.93.

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Chart courtesy of stockcharts.com

Anthem

Anthem (ANTM) offers health care plans. The company has enjoyed explosive earnings growth with analysts expecting profits to rise by 29% during the current year, and an additional 15.5% per annum over the last five years. Anthem has a solid history of posting earnings growth greater than expected, and the company topped estimates each of the last seven quarters. Stock Score Report gives ANTM an overall score of 88 with very high technical marks. The stock’s valuation remains attractive, with a forward P/E of 16 which should allow the stock to build on its recent momentum as long as the company is able to keep pace with analyst estimates moving forward. ANTM trades at $276.16 with an average price target of $304.

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Chart courtesy of stockcharts.com

UnitedHealth Group

UnitedHealth Group (UNH) has appreciated with the overall sector, and the stock currently trades just shy of its all-time high. The company has a strong earnings track record, topping estimates each of the last 18 quarters. Analysts forecast earnings growth of 26% during the current year, and by an additional 13% next year. The company next reports on October 16, with the consensus calling for earnings of $3.30, up from $2.66 during the same period last year. The Stock Score Report gives UNH an overall score of 89, with high technical scores and a fundamental score of 82. UNH currently trades at $271.02 with an average price target of 292.06.

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Chart courtesy of stockcharts.com

Microsoft

Tech giant Microsoft (MSFT) has been a top performing stock over the last year, with shares currently just pennies below an all-time high. Microsoft has emerged as a leader in the cloud computing sector, which happens to be the fastest growing sector in tech. Microsoft earnings have increased 10% per annum over the last five years, and looking ahead analysts forecast average annual earnings growth of 12.5% for the next five years. Stock Score Report gives MSFT an overall score of 88, with near perfect technical scores and a solid 74 fundamental ranking. Last quarter the company posted earnings of $1.14 per share, up from $0.98 during the previous year. Microsoft next reports on Oct. 25, with the consensus calling for earnings of $0.96, up from $0.84 last year. The stock trades at $115.58 with an average price target of $121.05.

Click here to see a full copy of the report.

Chart courtesy of stockcharts.com