Here’s me quoted in this weekend’s Wall Street Journal…

Here’s me quoted in this weekend’s Wall Street Journal…

Here’s me quoted in this weekend’s Wall Street Journal about Netflix.  It’s a bit too much of a highflyer even for me and I’ve just never gotten comfortable trading this name, so it’s not on our sheets even as I do think it’s likely to go much higher in coming years as the Great Tech Bubble of the 21st Century builds.  Anyway, here’s the link:

and here’s the full article:


It’s been a tough market lately. Stocks have been churning since April, the Dow Jones Industrial Average soaring by triple digits one day, dropping by triple digits the next.


Tim Foley

After falling through much of May and June, the Dow’s summer recovery sputtered last week, falling 1.4% — and it’s now off 2.6% from its April high.

But who needs this kind of up-and-down grief? What most investors want are good, solid stocks that can be relied on, stocks that performed superbly during the first six months of 2011 and can be counted on to do well in the months — and years — ahead.

We found some.

Here are five stocks, all of which gave prescient investors stellar, market-beating returns in the first half of the year.

But they’re not just “woulda-coulda-shoulda” stocks that have seen their best runs. Nope. They are all top-notch companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index, with plenty of potential to keep on going.

Netflix (NFLX): $287

Online movie-rental service Netflix entertained investors with a staggering 50% return from January through June. In doing so, it defied many short sellers — speculators who sell borrowed stock in the hope of profiting by buying it back at a lower price later.

Still, the shares might go higher, says Cody Willard, author of the Revolution Investing newsletter and founder of Ruidoso, N.M.-based CL Willard Capital.

Many clients want to do some trading on their own, despite paying advisers for their expertise. Technology can help to offer that option. Suzanne Barlyn of Dow Jones discusses with Joe Stensland, managing director of wealth management for Scivantage.

“Netflix has finally fulfilled its namesake; for the first time, 2011 will see it deliver more movies via the Internet than by mail,” he says.

The company already has more than 23 million subscribers and has the potential for huge gains in untapped overseas markets.

Last week’s announcement that Netflix will substantially raise prices doesn’t faze Mr. Willard. He says similar content on cable TV would be priced at $100 a month. Many Netflix subscribers will still pay less than $20.

He sees the stock hitting $1,000 within “five to seven years.”

Chipotle Grill (CMG): $325

Casual-dining chain Chipotle Mexican Grill served up a stellar 45% gain to anyone who bought the stock at the beginning of January. There could be even more gains to come, says Mark Kalinowski, an analyst at Janney Capital Markets in New York. His firm dubs Chipotle a “top restaurant-stock pick for 2011.”

The stock-price jump was driven by a greater than 20% year-to-year leap in both first-quarter revenue and earnings per share.

In a recent research report, Mr. Kalinkowski says “speedy service” and “higher-quality ingredients” are providing a better customer experience than other restaurants. In turn, that should lead to increased market share as well as increased sales at each restaurant going forward.

Mr. Kalinowski says the stock has a fair value of $375, or about 15% above current levels.

Cliffs Resources (CLF): $98


Iron-ore miner Cliffs Natural Resources dug up gains for investors of close to 19% in the first half of 2011, due to a resurgent iron-ore market which boosted profit margins.

The stock could do even better in the second half, says Shneur Gershuni, an analyst atUBS in New York.

In particular, the huge boom in infrastructure building in Asia should drive up demand for steel and in turn push up the consumption of iron ore, he says. Iron ore is combined with limestone and coal to produce steel.

UBS now sees Chinese steel production increasing in the second half at a faster rate than initially expected, Mr. Gershuni says. “We expect Cliffs to take advantage of that.”

Mr. Gershuni puts a price target of $123 on the stock, more than 25% above current levels. The company also announced a doubling of the dividend earlier this week. It now yields around 1.2% a year.

Philip Morris Int’l. (PM): $67

Cigarette company Philip Morris International lit up investor portfolios with a robust 16% return in the first half, on the back of solid revenue growth and share buybacks. The company markets its products only outside the U.S.

It could get a whole lot better for investors, says Esther Kwon, a New York-based equity analyst at Standard & Poor’s. “We generally like all the tobacco stocks, but Philip Morris is a top pick,” she says.

Cigarettes are one of the few products where producers can raise prices without lowering profits, Ms. Kwon says, and lower revenues in Europe will be more than offset by growth in Asia and Latin America.

She forecasts that the company, which boasts powerful cigarette brands like Marlboro and Parliament, will generate $25 billion of so-called free cash flow over the next three years.

Ms. Kwon has slapped a price target of $82 on the stock, more than 20% higher than current levels. The stock yields a further 3.7% a year.

Kraft Foods (KFT): $35

Kraft Foods served investors a hearty 14% return in the first six months of the year, fueled by double-digit revenue growth and improved profit margins in the first three months of 2011 from a year earlier.

Not bad for a company that does approximately $50 billion in sales in what many see as a mature market.

“The long-awaited turnaround in Kraft’s fortunes may finally be upon us,” writes Alexia Howard, an analyst with Bernstein Research in New York, in a recent report. She believes there will be more cost savings to be squeezed out of its Cadbury unit.

Ms. Howard says Kraft is Bernstein’s top pick in the U.S. food sector, with a price target of $42, or a 20% premium over the current price. The stock yields a further 3.2% a year.

— Simon Constable is author, with Robert E. Wright, of “The Wall Street Journal Guide to the 50 Economic Indicators that Really Matter.” Email: