Market Overview

Caterpillar, Discover Financial and Other Illinois Primary Stock Picks


Today, Illinois holds its Republican Primary, as the candidates hope to add to their delegate counts. Polls show a close race between frontrunners Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. While the focus is on Illinois, let's have a look at the stocks of some of the many corporations headquartered in the Land of Lincoln and Obama.

Many of the state's most well-known corporations -- All State (NYSE: ALL), Boeing (NYSE: BA), Deere & Co. (NYSE: DE), Kraft Foods (NYSE: KFT), Motorola Mobility (NYSE: MMI), United Continental (NYSE: UAL) and Walgreen (NYSE: WAG) -- have seen share price growth only in the low single digits since the beginning of the year. McDonald's (NYSE: MCD) share price even is a bit lower year to date. Those stocks featured below, however, have seen growth of at least 20% in that time.

ACCO Brands (NYSE: ABD) has seen its share price rise almost 35% year to date, and it is up more than 118% in the past six months. The Lincolnshire-based office products maker posted better-than-expected Q4 EPS but revenues fell short of estimates. The $721.8 billion market cap company has an operating margin that is higher than the industry average. Over the past six months, the stock has outperformed competitors Avery Dennison (NYSE: AVY) and 3M (NYSE: MMM).

See also: Credit Suisse Upgrades ACCO Brands to Outperform

Caterpillar (NASDAQ: CAT) is about 26% higher than at the beginning of the year and less than 3% lower than the recent 52-week high. Last week, Jim Cramer called this DJIA and S&P 500 component a buy. The Peoria-based company has a market cap of $73.6 billion, a long-term EPS growth forecast of 24.3% and a return on equity of 41.6%. The stock has outperformed competitors such as CNH Global (NYSE: CNH) and Deere & Co. (NYSE: DE) over the past six months.

CF Industries (NYSE: CF) shares have largely rebounded from a recent pullback and are trading more than 26% higher year to date. The Deerfield-based company posted record net income results for fourth-quarter and its fifth-straight quarter of double-digit year-over-year percentage revenue growth. It has a market cap of $12.0 billion and its dividend yield is 0.9%. Over the past six months, the stock has outperformed peers Agrium (NYSE: AGU) and Potash (NYSE: POT).

Discover Financial Services (NYSE: DFS) rose more than 35% year to date and its shares reached a new 52-week high yesterday. Analysts expect year-over-year growth in both EPS and revenues in tomorrow's first quarter report. Based in Riverwoods, the company has a return on equity of 29.9% and a P/E ratio of 7.9. Its market cap is $17.2 billion and the dividend yield is 1.2%. The stock has outperformed MasterCard (NYSE: MA) and Visa (NYSE: V) year to date.

See also: Goldman Sachs Raises PT to $36 on Discover Financial

Fortune Brands Home & Security (NYSE: FBHS) is trading near a multiyear high and up about 26% since the beginning of the year. Shares leaped earlier this month when the company made Fortune magazine's 2012 List of the world's most admired companies. It has a $3.4 billion market cap and a long-term EPS growth forecast of 22.2%. The stock's performance was in line with competitor Masco (NYSE: MAS) over the past year but it outperformed the broader markets.

Jones Lang LaSalle's (NYSE: JLL) share price is up almost 42% year to date but is still more than 11% lower than a year ago. The Chicago-based property management company also made Fortune magazine's 2012 List of the world's most admired companies. The $3.8 billion market cap company has seen revenues rise 12.2% over the past five years, and the long-term EPS growth forecast is 17.3%. The stock has outperformed the S&P 500 and the Dow over the past six months.

Tenneco's (NYSE: TEN) share price is more than 31% higher year to date, though it is about the same as it was a month ago. Back in February, the Lake Forest-based auto parts producer reported record fourth-quarter and full-year revenue results. Tenneco has a market cap is $2.4 billion. Its long-range EPS growth forecast is 33.0% and the PEG ratio is less than the industry average. Over the past six months, the stock has outperformed the likes of BorgWarner (NYSE: BWA).


Bullish: Investors also may want to consider the following trades in Illinois-based companies:

  • Baxter International (NYSE: BAX) is about 21% higher year to date.
  • CME Group (NYSE: CME) is more than 21% higher year to date.
  • Hospira (NYSE: HSP) is about 23% higher year to date.
  • Illinois Tool Works (NYSE: ITW) is more than 24% higher year to date.

Traders may prefer to consider these alternative positions:

  • Agrium (NYSE: AGU) is up more than 29% year to date.
  • American Express (NYSE: AXP) is up almost 22% year to date.
  • CNH Global (NYSE: CNH) is up more than 22% year to date.
Neither Benzinga nor its staff recommend that you buy, sell, or hold any security. We do not offer investment advice, personalized or otherwise. Benzinga recommends that you conduct your own due diligence and consult a certified financial professional for personalized advice about your financial situation.

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