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Tickers in this Article: CRAY, CNK, AMP, DPS
Below are four stocks from four different market caps. Two or three years from now, I'm confident most will be firmly in the black. These four stock picks include a beverage maker, cinema chain, financial planner and computer company. Let's take a look.

IN PICTURES: Digging Out Of Debt In 8 Steps

Micro Cap - Starting Off Small

In the 1980s, Cray (Nasdaq:CRAY) supercomputers seemed like the real life version of Hal, the talking computer from 2001: A Space Odyssey, only Cray's version couldn't talk. These were massive machines doing millions of calculations. Then I grew up and the company vanished into thin air. Or so I thought. After running a stock screen to narrow my choices, Cray's name jumped out at me. I explored this one-time technological innovator and liked what I found.

For the first time since 2003 and only the third time in the last 10 years, it was going to breakeven or make a profit in each of the next two fiscal years. Its second-quarter earnings report said revenues increased 34% from $46.7 million to $62.7 million and net income 153% from a loss of $6.4 million to a profit of $3.4 million. That's powerful stuff.

Management went on to suggest it expects $290 million in revenue for 2009 and an operating profit, albeit a modest one. Most importantly, margins are improving at the same time revenues are. In 2010, it is expecting to be squarely in the black with analysts estimating earnings per share of $0.41. I'm not expecting a home run here, just a single or double.

Small Cap - A Silver Screen Dream
Back in March I stated that the movie business was the best place to be to make money. Two quarters later and my opinion still stands. One of the companies I am interested in is Cinemark Holdings (NYSE:CNK) and there are several reasons why. The first is price. Its stock is down 32% in the past 52-weeks and despite recovering slightly in the first eight months of this year, is way off where it was trading last September, despite two good quarters in a row.

Second, Madison Dearborn Capital Partners still own 45% of the company. It's clear they feel their investment is worth more than $9.70 a share and so do I. At the very least, it's worth $19, the price of its IPO in April 2007. Lastly, when times are crappy, there's no better way to reduce stress then to take in a flick on the big screen. That'll never change. (To find out why smaller companies tend to have the greatest potential for growth, read Small Caps Boast Big Advantages.)

Mid Cap - Solid Insurance
With 10,000 financial advisors nationwide providing financial planning, asset management and insurance solutions to millions of Americans, Ameriprise Financial (NYSE:AMP) would have to mess it up in spectacular fashion to drop off the radar. That isn't happening. In fact, it looks like the American Express spin-off's management is taking the offensive.

CEO Jim Cracchiolo had this to say about their plans in its second-quarter report: "While the environment continued to impact our results, we're beginning to see signs of improvement, with increased client activity and solid asset flows across our platform...In addition, we took actions during the quarter to further enhance our strong capital base, which puts us in a position to pursue additional growth opportunities."

Ameriprise stock was trading at $60 in early 2008. I think it can get back there in two or three years. Besides, any company that uses Spencer Davis's "Gimme Some Lovin" in an ad can't be half-bad.

Large Cap - Trust the Doctor
Investopedia's own Todd Shriber had good things to say about Dr. Pepper Snapple Group (NYSE:DPS) August 12 suggesting that even though its stock is up 45% this year it could have some more fuel in the tank, especially if its second-quarter report was good. Well, it was. Revenues were up 3% excluding the loss of Hansen product distribution and earnings per share jumped 20 cents to $0.62. Most impressive was cash from operations for the first half of 2009, which grew 33.5% year over year from $278 million to $371 million.

Looking ahead to the remainder of 2009, the company sees EPS excluding certain items of $1.88 to $1.96 and sales growth (excluding Hansen) of 2-4%. It's not thrilling but good enough for this economic environment. The company continues to use its free cash flow to pay down debt, erasing $475 million from the books in 2009. Debt reduction is always a good thing.

As for the products themselves, all signs point to an extremely good rollout of Dr. Pepper Cherry. Apparently, it's bringing in new customers who find Dr. Pepper too strong. The cherry flavor is the main reason Dr. Pepper sales were up 4% in the quarter. Expect this to continue across America. Perhaps even diehard Coke drinker Warren Buffett will try it. Either way, it's a winner. (Learn to analyze cash flows in our article, Analyze Cash Flow The Easy Way.)

The Bottom Line
Like always, these stock picks are of the buy-and-hold variety. Hang on to them for three to five years and you'll do just fine.

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