InvestorPlace.com launched its 10 Best Stocks for 2013 feature at the start of the year, again offering a list of buy-and-hold investments that, if held all year, would provide market-beating returns for individual investors.
It’s early in the contest, but so far, the competition’s stocks been chugging steadily along for the most part. More than half of the picks are beating the S&P 500’s 5% climb thus far, and all but two are at least slightly in the black.
Obviously there’s a lot of time left in 2013, and a lot of things can (and will) happen, but we’ll highlight the early winners so they have a chance to beat their chests.
With that in mind, here’s a recap of InvestorPlace.com’s 10 Best Stocks for 2013 so far:
Current Return: -12%
Investor: Stephanie Link
Unfortunately for Stephanie Link, Vale (NYSE:VALE) has been on a pretty steady downward trend so far this year. The company — the world’s largest producer of iron ore — has shed double digits in 2013.
So far, her belief in the company’s strong exposure to the emerging markets, improving internal fundamentals and an attractive valuation haven’t helped much this year. But keep in mind that, at this time last year, contest participant and stock expert Jon Markman was sitting in last place … and ended up in fourth place with 20% gains.
Plus, don’t forget about that 6% dividend that gets tacked on to the industrial giant’s returns over the course of the year.
Current Return: 0%
Investor: Jeff Reeves
For InvestorPlace Editor Jeff Reeves, the contest hasn’t really started yet. His pick — tech staple Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) — is flat almost two months into the contest. It started off strong, with double-digit gains in the first few weeks, but peaked in mid-January and continued to fall with the broader markets more recently.
Reeves himself admitted that, after two painful showings in this annual stock-picking contest, he decided to pick “a stable and undervalued blue chip instead of a long shot that I hope to be a highflier.” He remains convinced the company is here to stay, especially thanks to its large semiconductor manufacturing footprint.
The good … or bad … news is that Reeves actually has his money where his mouth is. So far, that second-to-last-place reality hasn’t meant any losses at least. But it hasn’t meant any gains, either.
#8: Global X Funds Greece
Current Return: +1%
Investor: Mebane Faber
For our first pick in the black, we come to an unlikely candidate: the Global X Funds Greece (NYSE:GREK), picked by Mebane Faber. The stock has eked out a 1% gain thus far — lagging the broader market, but at least posting a profit for investors.
The sole ETF on this list has been pounded by Greek and broader eurozone uncertainty of late, losing the upward momentum it had during the first month of the year.
Still, Faber maintains his simple proposition, based on some not-so-simple calculations (which you can read about here): The country is cheap. So while there’s metaphorical blood in the streets — even two months into the new year — you gotta hold your nose and buy.
The question, though, is whether the ETF’s price will climb in time for it to top the Best Stocks for 2013 list.
Current Return: +1%
Investor: Louis Navellier
Just a week ago, Louis Navellier’s “recession-proof” pick of Sherwin-Williams (NYSE:SHW) was sitting pretty with market-beating double-digit gains, thanks in part to a better-than-expected full-year earnings report and a 28% hike to its dividend.
Since Feb. 15, though, it’s been all downhill for SHW — thanks, possibly, to some weakness on the housing front and the across-the-board selloff that gave the market its first weekly lost last week.
Still, Sherwin-Williams is the nation’s largest producer of paints and coatings and Navellier still expects it to outperform the market as it has done in the past. And the 20% earnings growth slated for the year seems likely to translate to more impressive stock gains as well.
Current Return: +3%
Investor: Rick Pendergraft
As with several other picks, Mylan (NASDAQ:MYL) rode the uptrend of the broader markets as 2013 kicked off … but also has ridden the more recent downtrend. Its 6% gains as of Feb. 15 have since been cut in half.
Still, investor Rick Pendergraft believes that the pharma company’s technicals and fundamentals — including a low forward P/E ratio and high institutional interest — make it a winner … and the pullback puts the stock just $1 away from Pendergraft’s suggested buy range of $24 to $27.
Thanks to the stability in generic drugs and the pipeline for new products coming online in 2013, Pendergraft is convinced that the stock could climb to over $35 — a 30% gain.
Current Return: +6%
Investor: Paul R. La Monica
As we head into the top five half of our list, we come to our first market-beating pick so far: Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM). Paul R. La Monica was drawn to the tech stock because it is one of the leading makers of chipsets for tech gadgets … and because it passed an ambitious stock screen La Monica ran.
And so far, things are looking good. The stock got a solid boost when it reported an impressive 29% rise in revenue last quarter, along with earnings of $1.26 per share — 13 cents per share better than analysts were expecting.
On top of that, it also issued second-quarter guidance in line with analysts estimates and raised its full-year 2013 guidance at the start of the month. Plus, the stock has already reversed direction after stumbling the past couple weeks.
Current Return: +6%
Investor: Charles Sizemore
Luxury automaker Daimler (PINK:DDAIF) — carefully chosen by contest veteran Charles Sizemore — also has started the year off strong. Its U.S. sales of Mercedes-Benz autos soared to more than 24,000 in January, making for a 10% increase and marking the best start in the company’s history.
Of course, success in this contest is hardly new to Sizemore. His pick of Visa (NYSE:V) won two years ago and Turkcell (NYSE:TKC) took home the silver after a close race with eventual winner Capital One (NYSE:COF) in 2012.
This year’s pick was a little more out of Charles’ comfort zone, though. He normally hates the auto industry, but overcame that disdain because “Daimler may be one of the best opportunities in the world at its current price” — one that was “too cheap to pass up.”
#3: Great Lakes Dredge & Dock
Current Return: +7%
Investor: Greg Harmon
Greg Harmon has to be pleased so far with his pick of Great Lakes Dredge & Dock (NASDAQ:GLDD). He chose the stock thanks to strong technicals, and it sure hasn’t disappointed, sliding into the top three early into the contest.
It got a huge pop on the first day of the year, then another in early February before it reversed direction. After that reversal, it has moved in lockstep with the S&P 500 while staying slightly ahead of the market’s year-to-date gains.
And, more importantly, it remains ahead of the bulk of the picks in this contest with its 7% gains.
Including that climb, GLDD has gained an impressive 33% over the last year. If it can repeat that kind of 12-month performance, Harmon’s pick seems like a favorite to be in the running as we near the finish line months and months from now.
#2: Two Harbors
Current Return: +11%
Investor: Steve Freehill
Steve Freehill is probably laughing at all the stock experts right now. Freehill was selected by InvestorPlace as the reader entry into the contest and, so far, is beating all but one of the talking heads.
He chose Two Harbors (NYSE:TWO) for what he said was one big reason: its eye-popping 19% yield. On top of that, it spun off a public company by the name of Silver Bay Realty Trust (NYSE:SBY) in December — a valuable asset.
Those factors have pushed the stock to solid double-digit gains that are more than double the S&P 500. Well, those factors … and the fact that, in the most recent quarter, the REIT’s profit more than tripled. Its net income soared from just over $51 million to more than $189 million.
Freehill isn’t just happy because of his second-place standing, though. He also put his money where his mouth is back in December. Double-digit gains since then sure aren’t anything to sneeze at.
Current Return: +12%
Investor: Jon Markman
Like I mentioned, Jon Markman enjoyed a 20% gain from last year’s pick of Hershey (NYSE:HSY) … but was hoping to improve on those market-beating numbers this year.
He was prepared from the get-go for a rocky time in the U.S. — precisely why he looked south for growth. The Mexico-based company owns more than half of the largest bottler in Latin America and a chain of convenience stores across Mexico and Colombia.
So far, so good. Fomento Economico Mexicano (NYSE:FMX) — commonly known as Femsa — has blown away the market with an impressive 12% two-month climb.
And that’s a sustainable start as well. At this point in the contest last year, David Gardner’s pick of MAKO Surgical (NASDAQ:MAKO) had climbed a whopping 46% … but went on the crumble to last place in the contest.
As of this writing, Alyssa Oursler did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.