The stock market’s remarkable bull run continued in earnest in 2014, with the S&P 500 Index posting its sixth consecutive year of gains. Investors are hoping 2015 can bring similar tidings … but like always, while even matching the market is an accomplishment in and of itself, everyone will be looking for ways to beat it.
With that in mind, InvestorPlace’s panel of experts have put together their annual list of the 10 best stocks to buy for 2015.
Our annual competition asks a group of professional money managers, stock market experts and financial writers to each come up with one stock they believe will outperform the market in 2015.
The 10 Best Stocks for 2015 span a diverse range of industries, and the companies range in size from small-caps to some of the largest corporations in the world.
Throughout the year, we’ll keep you updated on how these picks perform. Each stock was chosen with a buy-and-hold mentality, so while it’s important to track their quarterly performance, these names are expected to be big winners over the period of a year, not several weeks or months.
With that said, let’s take a look at the 10 best stocks to buy now going into the new year.
10 Best Stocks to Buy for 2015: ABM Industries, Inc. (ABM)
Investor: Hilary Kramer
Hilary Kramer, editor of stock market newsletters GameChangers, Breakout Stocks Under $10 and High Octane Trader, crowned ABM Industries, Inc. (ABM) as her pick in the 10 Best Stocks for 2015 contest.
ABM, shorthand for American Building Maintenance, provides — you guessed it — maintenance services for a wide range of facilities across the country.
While a company that derives 50% of its revenue from its Janitorial segment might not sound like a market-beater at first, Kramer thinks ABM stock is poised for a great 2015. With a 2.2% dividend yield and earnings growth accelerating recently, Hilary expects ABM stock to meet or exceed its expectations for 10% growth going forward.
10 Best Stocks to Buy for 2015: Noble Corp plc (NE)
Investor: John Jagerson and Wade Hansen
With oil prices plummeting during the past half-year, shares of contract driller Noble Corp plc (NE) have been punished as well, with shares off more than 50% in the last year.
But Jagerson and Hansen believe the dramatic selloff in NE stock is wholly unjustified. While acknowledging the risks of investing as oil prices continue to fall, Noble stock’s cheap valuation, solid liquidity and recent momentum are taken as bullish signals. They remark that:
“The upside is attractive enough to consider an entry as momentum begins to build. Unlike other firms in the industry, Noble Corp has the capital available to take advantage of future demand from producers and end-consumers.”
At the very least, Noble stock is one to watch closely in 2015.
10 Best Stocks to Buy for 2015: Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO)
Investor: Greg Harmon
But the reason expert trader and options investor Greg Harmon thinks YHOO is one of the 10 best stocks for 2015 has nothing to do with China’s e-commerce king. Yahoo’s monthly chart, Harmon writes, shows three bullish indicators for the year ahead:
“The first is the long break of an ascending triangle. The triangle was about $39 wide at its base and so looks for a move higher of $39, to about $82, on the break out higher. This triggered on a move over $44 in late October 2014.”
Ever the experienced chartist, Harmon breaks down graphics and cites two more technical indicators — the cup-and-handle pattern and the flag pattern — in his article on YHOO.
10 Best Stocks to Buy for 2015: iShares U.S. Oil Equipment & Services ETF (IEZ)
Investor: David and Michael Fabian
Managing partners at FMD Capital Management, an investment advisory firm focusing primarily on funds, David and Michael Fabian see the iShares U.S. Oil Equipment & Services ETF (IEZ) as a worthy competitor in the 10 Best Stocks for 2015 contest.
Like Noble Corp, the IEZ ETF is also a conscious play on an eventual oil price rebound. The thesis that IEZ will surge on an oil services comeback is well-supported, too. Noting that “IEZ is a traditional market-cap weighted index that tracks 53 stocks in the oil services industry,” the ETF gurus think the market-cap weighting methodology works in investors’ favor:
“This slant towards larger and more established companies within the industry makes IEZ more attractive than other equal-weighted ETF alternatives. In addition, these larger companies may benefit from merger and acquisition activity within the energy services industry as smaller firms look to survive or consolidate their assets.”
If oil prices rebound, IEZ looks to be “the best broad play for an oil recovery next year.”
10 Best Stocks to Buy for 2015: Google Inc (GOOG)
Investor: Paul R. La Monica
But in “going mainstream,” La Monica actually makes a somewhat contrarian pick, especially considering the fact that GOOG stock underperformed pretty much all of its major competitors in 2014: Apple Inc. (AAPL), Facebook Inc (FB), Microsoft Corporation (MSFT), Baidu Inc (ADR) (BIDU), and Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) all fared better last year.
For La Monica, Google’s valuation looks too cheap to ignore:
“I couldn’t pass up on Google. The stock now trades for just 17 times 2015 earnings estimates. Its P/E is pretty much in line with its expected earnings growth rate.”
Acknowledging that the Motorola Mobility acquisition was a complete failure, he reminds us that Google’s M&A track record is exceptional on the whole: YouTube, DoubleClick and Android have all done big things for Google.
10 Best Stocks to Buy for 2015: Ambarella Inc (AMBA)
Investor: Jon Markman
Best-known as the supplier of chips for GoPro Inc (GPRO), the wearable camera-maker whose products have become a pop-culture phenomenon, Markman explains that AMBA isn’t just some one-off play on GoPro’s success (although GPRO does account for more than 25% of Ambarella’s revenue):
“About 45% of Ambarella’s business is in the Internet-connected security market … Ambarella is counting on explosive growth from customers such as Flir Systems (FLIR), which announced 31 new IP security camera models this year, all with Ambarella chips inside.”
With its hands in the television broadcast market as well, AMBA stock is a rarity in that it’s a fairly well-diversified growth company leading the way in several vertical markets.
Although it tacked on more than 50% in 2014, if Ambarella’s 43% revenue growth last quarter is any indication of things to come, AMBA stock could still have its best days ahead of it in 2015.
10 Best Stocks to Buy for 2015: Prospect Capital Corporation (PSEC)
Investor: Charles Sizemore
Unfortunately for his competitors, Sizemore has an enviable track record: he’s a two-time champion, taking the gold for best stock pick in both 2011 and 2013. (He came in last in 2014, but if the every-other-year pattern holds up, he looks like a shoo-in this year).
For 2015, Sizemore notes that current stock market valuations appear stretched, and he expects the mantra “cash is king” to ring especially true for markets.
Prospect Capital Corporation, which invests in senior loans but also provides capital for some high-risk M&A activity, might seem like a curious play in that environment. But with a 12.1% dividend yield and a recent spree of insider buying, Sizemore thinks Prospect Capital could deliver total returns of 40% or more in 2015.
10 Best Stocks to Buy for 2015: Pizza Inn Holdings (PZZI)
Investor: Rick Rouse
This micro-cap company isn’t for the conservative investor. Like the rapid pizza-making method that Pizza Inn employs, if investors don’t time this stock right they could get severely burned.
But Rouse quickly summarizes the appeal of Pizza Inn Holdings, which has a brand of restaurants called Pie Five:
“Pie Five’s goal is to have you stuffing your face with the perfect pie in less than five minutes. If you were wondering how Pie Five can cook a pizza in under two minutes, it’s due to their patented ovens. They heat up to 700 degrees and can bake a pie in one minute and 45 seconds.
It essentially feels like the Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (CMG) of pizza shops.”
The real test for PZZI this year will be to see if it can imitate CMG stock’s explosive returns. Chipotle shares are up more than 650% in the last five years alone.
10 Best Stocks to Buy for 2015: Apple Inc. (AAPL)
Investor: Louis Navellier
Louis Navellier — an experienced investor, go-to Wall Street portfolio manager, and editor of the Blue Chip Growth and Emerging Growth stock market newsletters — elected Apple Inc. (AAPL) as his entrant in the 10 Best Stocks for 2015 competition.
Like Google, AAPL stock is hardly an obscure pick to outperform the markets in 2015. It’s the largest company in the entire world, after all, and Apple stock was able to soar yet again in 2014 with help from a 7-for-1 stock split and the blowout success of the iPhone 6 release.
But the main case Navellier makes for AAPL stock has nothing to do with the iPhone. Or the iPad. Or the iPod, for that matter:
“Apple has hiked up its dividend twice in the past two years — a 24% increase to bring AAPL stock to a healthy 1.6% dividend yield. And with a payout ratio of 24.3%, Apple has a healthy cushion for future dividend increases.”
In other words, not only is AAPL still a growth stock despite being the largest company in the world, Apple’s a growth stock with a growing dividend. But the fairy tale doesn’t end there:
“Apple also recently increased its stock buyback program to a whopping $90 billion. In the last quarter alone, Apple bought back $17 billion of its stock. Between dividend payments and share repurchases, Apple expects to return $130 billion to shareholders by the end of 2015.”
Navellier believes, and not without justification, that returning this comically large sum of money to shareholders could propel AAPL to new heights in 2015.
10 Best Stocks to Buy for 2015: Old Dominion Freight Line (ODFL)
Investor: Mike Turner
Mike Turner, a premier authority in rule-based trading and time-cycle-based forecasting, is also the editor of investment newsletters Signal Investor and Turner Analytics. Looking through a bullish lens for 2015, Turner expects stock market returns in the range of 11% and 16% this year.
With the price of crude oil currently below $60, Turner also sees the $6.7 billion trucking and logistics company Old Dominion Freight Line (ODFL) significantly outperforming the market this year. Over the last three years, ODFL stock has rocketed more than 180% as it reaped the rewards of an expanding economy.
But here’s the icing on the cake:
“The rise in ODFL’s price over the past three years has been accomplished with crude oil in the $80 to $100-plus range. The current move into the low $60s will be a huge benefit for ODFL and other truckers. And should the price of crude oil rise, it will not have a great impact on its stock price, as Old Dominion will be able to pass along a fuel surcharge to their customers.”
It may not be the sexiest of the 10 Best Stocks for 2015, but don’t be surprised if ODFL beats out higher-profile names to boast the highest returns on this list.
John Divine is assistant editor of InvestorPlace.com. As of this writing, he held long positions in AAPL stock, GOOG stock, GOOGL stock, Jan 2015 AMBA $20 calls and Jan 2016 AMBA $25 calls. You can follow him on Twitter @divinebizkid.