Face­book, Ulta lead 8 stocks on fast track

For now, it’s hard to ar­gue with a speed­ing lo­co­mo­tive

USA TODAY Weekend Extra - - MONEY - Matt Krantz @mat­tkrantz USA TO­DAY

Stocks have steamed higher this year. But some win­ners are run­ning away with a head of steam that just dares doubters to stand in the way.

There are eight stocks in the Stan­dard & Poor’s 500 that are up big this year and aren’t show­ing any signs of los­ing their mo­men­tum, ac­cord­ing to a USA TO­DAY anal­y­sis of data from S&P Global Mar­ket In­tel­li­gence. All of th­ese stocks are up 20% or more this year, ex­pected by an­a­lysts to rise 10% or more over the next 18 months and are seen post­ing higher prof­its and rev­enues this year and next.

“In this en­vi­ron­ment, in­vestors are look­ing for con­tin­u­ous growth and are will­ing to pay for that,” says Ron Josey, an an­a­lyst at JMP Se­cu­ri­ties, ad­dress­ing Face­book specif­i­cally.

Th­ese stocks high­light the tire­less power the mar­ket has de­spite some se­ri­ous risks. Pres­i­den­tial de­bates loom, as does the pos­si­bil­ity the Fed­eral Re­serve Bank might hike short-term in­ter­est rates this year. The S&P 500 is up 6% this year, de­spite pock­ets of weak­ness.

That’s why the win­ners in this leg of the bull are all that more im­por­tant. ULTA Salon con­tin­ues to be a looker. The stock is up 28% this year to $237.57, and an­a­lysts think it could be worth 23% more in 18 months.

Face­book, too, is a source of strength that in­vestors are grav­i­tat­ing to. Shares of the No. 1 so­cial net­work­ing firm are up 23% this year to $128.

But un­like many other big tech stocks that are up so much that an­a­lysts don’t see much up­side left, an­a­lysts think Face­book could be worth 21% more in 18 months.

Clearly the mar­ket faces hur­dles. An­a­lysts’ earn­ings es­ti­mates have proved overly op­ti­mistic for the mar­ket, as S&P 500 prof­its are seen fall­ing 0.7% in the third quar­ter. At the start of the year, earn­ings were ex­pected to grow 9% in the quar­ter.

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