The average stock on the S&P 500 has 20 analysts covering it. Some have double that number. Then there are stocks like Intel (Nasdaq:INTC) and Cisco Systems (Nasdaq:CSCO) which, respectively, have 53 (the most of any company) and 49 firms following them. But few and far between are the stocks that have unanimous buy ratings on them.
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Below we list those stocks that currently boast the highest percentage analyst 'buy' ratings on the S&P 500.
One of Warren's Babies
The leader of the pack, with nowhere to go but down, is a newspaper company. The Washington Post Company (NYSE:WPO) publishes both its namesake newspaper and, until just recently, Newsweek magazine. It also operates an educational division called Kaplan, Inc. and owns and operates several television stations.
The Post is the only company on the S&P 500 that currently has a full 100% buy consensus from the analysts covering it - or, rather, from the analyst (singular) covering it. Yes, Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.A) investment guru Warren Buffett owns a huge chunk of the company, and that's worth something in this game. But just a single Wall Street analyst is covering the paper, so it may not be worth getting too excited over the company's perfect score.
WPO trades with a P/E of 14.6 and carries an annual dividend yield of 2.38%. Latest earnings for the company were dramatically larger than those posted in the same quarter a year ago, $10 per share versus $1.30 posted during the second quarter of 2009. The Post sold off Newsweek this month, bringing its 77 year print tradition to an end. Newsweek will likely survive as an online operation going forward.
Drugs and Credit
Celgene Corporation (Nasdaq:CELG) has 25 analysts covering it, with all but one offering a buy recommendation. Celgene is a biopharmaceutical research and development company, with an emphasis on developing treatments for cancer and immune-inflammatory diseases. Year to date the company's stock has been flat.
94% of the 36 analysts who cover MasterCard, Inc (NYSE:MA) give it a buy rating. The stock is down more than 15% since New Year's. Share prices for all credit card issuers suffered since legislation was introduced to limit fees charged to cardholders.
Many believe analyst coverage on stocks should be taken with a grain of salt. After all, less than 5% of the reports issued actually call for investors to sell a stock. But when the consensus is to buy - and there are lots of analysts in the pool - it's never a waste of time to take a closer look. (For related reading, take a look at Analyst Recommendations: Do Sell Ratings Exists? and Analyst Forecasts Spell Disaster For Some Stocks)
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