As the final month of the first quarter rolls along, many investors and portfolio managers are striving to come up with positive returns for the quarter. Although the Dow Jones Industrial Average is the only market down for the quarter so far, the extreme volatility has made the overall investment-making decision process a touch more dicey. Most of the political and financial pundits are hopeful that the geopolitical waves that have rocked the markets will start to calm down.
The Institutional Portfolio team at Oppenheimer has run their screens looking for the stocks that can outperform over the next 30 days. Technology, which is one of the firm's favorites of the 10 sectors, was one of only two sectors to show an increase in positive ratings this month, a statistic noted by many firms that we cover recently.
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Here are some of the best ideas for March from Oppenheimer.
Akamai Technologies Inc. (AKAM) is a top technology name for March. The company only competes in a small part of the overall security market, but it has aspirations to expand to ancillary areas. The company sees the recent Prolexic acquisition as very different but adjacent to its Kona suite and could look at additional network-based security capabilities to address the area between the application and end user; technologies that cover DDoS appliances, app changes, identity management and analytics. Combined with the company's huge server business, this could make it a top name for investors. The Thomson/First Call price target is posted at $62.59. Akamai closed Wednesday at $61.51.
Concho Resources Inc. (CXO) is added to the list of top March names and is a top energy play in the Permian Basin in West Texas. It is an independent oil and natural gas company engaged in the acquisition, development and exploration of oil and natural gas properties. It also may be a possible takeover candidate. The consensus price target for the stock is $131.66. Concho closed Wednesday at $120.85.
Fidelity National Financial Inc. (FNF) is a top financial stock to buy that shows up well on the Oppenheimer screens. Fidelity National has witnessed rising earnings estimates on the back of solid fourth-quarter 2013 results. Moreover, this well-known property and casualty insurer delivered positive earnings surprises in the past four quarters, with an average beat of 9.5%. The long-term expected earnings growth rate for this stock is 2%. Investors are paid a 2.2% dividend. The consensus price target is $34.75. Shares closed Wednesday at $32.52
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Freescale Semiconductor Ltd. (FSL) is another top technology name to buy. The company is a global leader in embedded processing solutions, providing industry leading products that are advancing the automotive, consumer, industrial and networking markets -- from microprocessors and microcontrollers to sensors, analog integrated circuits and connectivity. The consensus price target is $22.12. The stock closed Wednesday $23.37.
Monster Beverage Corp. (MNST) is a top consumer discretionary name to buy this month. Net sales of $540.9 million surpassed the consensus estimates of $522 million by 3.6% and rose 14.7% year over year. Solid net sales in the quarter were driven by a robust 15.2% increase in sales in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region, the successful launch of new Ultra Red energy drink and increased sales of Zero Ultra and Ultra Blue and new Muscle Monster products in the United States. While scrutiny over energy drinks as a whole will remain, this may be a solid add to any portfolio. The consensus price target is $77.60. Shares ended Wednesday at $73.44.
Nabors Industries Ltd. (NBR) makes the list of the top stocks to buy at Oppenheimer in the energy sector. Many banks on Wall Street have cited Nabors better-than-average fleet, including a large number of high-end rigs in the United States, and strong international business to drive growth. Investors are paid a 0.7% dividend. The consensus target is $23.40. Nabors closed Wednesday at $22.95.
While the market is starting to stabilize, it looks as though investors will have to keep a close eye on volatility for the foreseeable future. While first-quarter earnings may be more tepid than expected, a second-quarter catch-up may be in order after the bad weather slowed progress on many business fronts.