On Jan. 1, InvestorPlace.com launched its free list of the 10 Best Stocks for 2011. The lineup included 10 long-term investments from a group of money managers, market experts and journalists. The goal was to provide a list of stocks investors should hold for 365 days, and (hopefully!) outperform the broader market across all of 2011.
Well, with the first quarter down, it appears that our 10 Best Stocks for 2011 are achieving that goal. At the close of the market on March 31, the average return of the stocks on our list was about 10% — almost DOUBLE the return of the broader stock market!
The two top stock picks, with 54% and 39% gains year-to-date, are responsible for the lion share of those gains. But only two stocks ended Q1 in the red, proving that some sleepy stocks tracking the market paired with a few breakout performers can be an effective way to build your portfolio.
So, which are truly the best stocks for 2011 so far, and what names are off to a slow start? Let’s take a look.
First the laggards on the list:
Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), picked by blogger and author James Altucher, is off 9% year-to-date. However, Altucher’s initial reasons for buying — a massive war chest of cash, bargain valuation and predictable revenue — remain unchanged.
Zions Bancorp (NASDAQ: ZION), picked by Anthony Mirhaydari, is down about 4% in 2011.The financial stock is located at the epicenter of the housing crisis, and has been slow to mend. However, Zions was upgraded to “outperform” by Credit Suisse on March 23, with a target of $32 per share. That’s about 32% upside if the target holds.
Evercore Partners (NYSE: EVR), picked by InvestorPlace expert Hilary Kramer, editor of GameChangers and Breakout Stocks Under $5, ended Q1 flat. Kramer describers EVR as a “merger and acquisition powerhouse,” as the company specializes in some of the biggest buyout deals on Wall Street. As M&A activity heats up in 2011, so should EVR. Kramer’s target remains $50.
Bank of America Corporation (NYSE: BAC), picked by financial journalist and InvestorPlace.com lead writer and editor Jeff Reeves, also posted a goose egg for Q1. After a quick rise in the beginning of the year, the stock sold off on disappointing earnings in late January. And since the market made its March 16 correction low, BAC has not kept pace, struggling while the broad market rallied. But BofA is the nation’s largest consumer lender, and these loans are performing better. This should be reflected in the stock price in 2011.
Now on to the three biggest winners on the Best Stocks for 2011 list …