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Our Top 10 Stock Picks for the Second Half of the Year

It's all about stocks that capitalize on consumer spending

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6) Altria

Altria Group (NYSE:MO) is the perfect high-dividend growth stock, boasting a whopping 5.1% dividend yield. The company dominates the U.S. cigarette market: just one of its brands—Marlboro—grabs 42% market share! Altria Group is also responsible for Virginia Slims brand cigarettes as well as Skoal smokeless tobacco and Ste. Michelle wine.

Because the company is well-diversified (tobacco accounts for 80% of sales), Altria is better equipped to handle the challenging regulatory environment than its competitors. And for all of you who held shares of MO on June 15, you’ll receive a quarterly dividend of 41 cents per share on July 14. This Conservative stock is a great buy.

7) Verisk

Verisk Analytics (NASDAQ:VRSK) is a major player in the risk-management business, with dozens of industry awards under its belt. That’s because Verisk is known in the industry for providing value-added services for its clients at highly competitive prices.

Ever since Verisk went public in 2009, the stock has been on a steady climb and for good reason—the company has posted double-digit sales and earnings growth for each of the past seven quarters. The company recently pumped up its customer base to include the law enforcement industry through its new Crimes Analytics division with its extensive national crime databases and expertise in fraud detection. This Conservative stock remains a strong buy.

8) Autozone

AutoZone Inc. (AZO) is another great stock because it is a larger and more conservative alternative to O’Reilly Automotive. With nearly 5,000 stores, AutoZone is the largest auto parts chain in the U.S., and the company is also extending its reach into the Mexican auto parts market, adding 10 new stores last quarter. This is a savvy move because Mexico’s roadways are full of cars that are 10 to 15 years old (and even older), so many drivers there are hungry for AutoZone’s replacement parts and do-it-yourself mentality. I consider this Conservative stock a great buy.

9) Apple 

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is one of my favorite companies right now, hands down. Most recently, Apple grabbed headlines due to its 2012 developers’ conference—rolling out a new ultra-thin MacBook laptop (complete with its revolutionary “Retina” display), iOS6 mobile operating system, Mountain Lion Mac operating software, and a slew of updates to the Siri personal assistant software.

With all of these developments, Apple is expected to continue accelerating sales and earnings at breakneck speed. Plus, the company will launch a dividend and a $10 billion stock buyback program later this year. Pick up this Moderately Aggressive stock.

10) Whole Foods

Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ:WFM) is the world’s largest natural and organic foods grocer, and with all of the recent concerns about childhood obesity and pink slime, consumers take notice. Whole Foods is able to charge more for its products because it goes a step further by ensuring that the brands it stocks are socially responsible.

The fact that shoppers can load up their carts with a clear conscience is one of the reasons that its same-store sales have been growing at a good clip as well. Looking ahead to the next quarter, Whole Foods is headed towards 14% sales growth and 22% earnings growth. Before its next earnings announcement, purchase shares of this Conservative stock.

Article printed from InvestorPlace Media,

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