3 Stocks for Anyone's Watch List

07/31/2012 11:45 am EST

Focus: STOCKS

Richard Moroney

Editor, Dow Theory Forecasts

This trio is primed to move in coming months, and now is a great time to get your foot in the door, writes Richard Moroney of Upside.

Ancestry.com (ACOM)
This company operates the world’s largest online family history database. With over 10 billion records, the company’s archives include ship passenger lists, birth and death records, and US Census information. A growing collection of user-generated data has boosted content.

Ancestry.com had 1.87 million subscribers on March 31, up 16% from a year earlier and nearly double the level of just three years ago. Lower customer turnover and steady subscriber gains, fueled partly by product launches and database enhancements, should drive earnings growth. In May, the company launched a genetic test that is linked to a global database of DNA samples.

For full-year 2012, Wall Street expects per-share earnings to increase 22% on 16% revenue growth. Over the next five years, per-share profits are expected to increase at an 18% annualized rate. Ancestry.com is as a Buy.

Center Bancorp (CNBC)
Through its subsidiary Union Center National Bank, this bank has been in operation since 1923. With 12 locations in New Jersey, the bank focuses on commercial lending to small and midsize businesses and to real-estate developers. Center is expanding its footprint with the pending acquisition of two branches in northern New Jersey and the addition of a 13th location.

Results are benefiting from an improved asset mix, steady loan growth, and reduced costs. March quarter earnings per share reached 25 cents, up 38% and 3 cents above the consensus. Total loans rose a healthy 10% to $791 million, while deposits jumped 28%. Asset quality improved, as nonperforming assets were only 0.59% of total assets.

In May, the per-share dividend was increased 83% to 5.5 cents. The consensus projects per-share profit growth of 26% this year and 7% next year. Center Bancorp is a Buy.

Chico’s FAS (CHS)
This apparel retailer operates nearly 700 namesake stores and outlets, as well as the Soma Intimates and White House/Black Market chains. The company caters primarily to women 30 years and older.

The Boston Proper brand, acquired last September, is an online and catalog retailer of high-end apparel. Steady store expansion, improved productivity, and a growing online presence should drive sales and earnings.

Chico’s Overall score of 95 ranks it No. 3 among the 45 apparel retailers in our research universe. Shaes earn a 91 for Earnings Estimates, reflecting better-than-expected results for the April quarter.

For fiscal 2013 ending January, per-share profits should be $1.04, up 24%. Revenue should increase 17%, aided by higher sales at its direct-to-consumer business and solid same-store sales growth. Chico’s is a Buy.

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