As the market enters a period of heightened volatility, igniting fears regarding overcrowding in popular stock picks such as tech titans Facebook Inc. (FB) and Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN), one team of analysts on the Street recommends investors use counterintuitive behavior to rake in big returns.
An equity research team at Credit Suisse recently published its latest list of contrarian stock picks, or companies it thinks Wall Street is reading wrong. (See also: 'Occupy Silicon Valley' Trend Could Hurt Tech Stocks.)
Andrew St. Pierre and his team screened their current U.S. coverage universe to identify companies where Credit Suisse analysts' views diverged from that of the Street, focusing on both ratings as well as earnings projections. The team worked with research analysts to select stories in which Credit Suisse's conviction level is high, resulting in three Outperform-rated names and five Underperform-rated picks.
Unpopular Retailer, Struggling Pharma Company
Unpopular stocks that the bank expects to outperform include mining company Cleveland Cliffs Inc. (CLF), which Credit Suisse sees gaining nearly 30% over 12 months to $9 per share. He expects the Ohio-based firm to benefit from a growing demand for electric arc furnaces in the U.S., sparking the need for high-quality feedstock such as hot-briquetted iron (HBI), which Cleveland owns.
As for the retail space, St. Pierre has a $125 price target on Ralph Lauren Corp. (RL), reflecting a 14% upside from Friday morning. Credit Suisse foresees the New York City-based apparel company to successfully execute its transformation plan and re-establish positive year-over-year (YOY) revenue growth by the end of 2018, a key near-term driver for the stock.
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (TEVA), an Israeli company which raked in big returns for short sellers in 2017, is forecast to gain 29% to reach $23 over the year on optimism regarding its "ambitious" restructuring plan for 2018 and 2019.
CS: Cash In on First Solar, Palo Alto
As for popular plays that St. Pierre and his team recommend investors cash in on and run, they highlight B&G Foods Inc. (BGS), First Solar Inc. (FSLR), Mosaic Co. (MOS), Palo Alto Networks Inc. (PANW) and QTS Realty Trust Inc. (QTS) among those set to underperform.
Credit Suisse expects B&G to fall another near 20% to $21 as the stock trades down 29% year-to-date (YTD). He sees company's management and the Street as overestimating EBITDA, overconfident in pricing power and overlooking downside from higher costs.
As for revived solar energy leader First Solar, which has gained 158% over 12 months, Pierre sees too much optimism priced in from tariffs and bookings, with too little attention on new competition. Mosaic stock is seen falling over 23% to $20 on lower fertilizer prices, while software security vendor Palo Alto is expected to decline 20% to $150 on structural changes in network security. St. Pierre sees real-estate investment trust QTS dipping 12% to $31 as it faces a more challenging market in Georgia, one of its most profitable territories. (See also: Market Weakness Time to Buy Small Caps, Values.)