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4 Top Jefferies Growth Stock Picks for Q4

With the market continuing to whipsaw investors into the close of the third quarter, many are starting to tire of the seemingly never-ending stock market roller coaster. One good thing to look forward to could be the upcoming third-quarter earnings reports. With expectations low and October performance actually positive four of the past five years, the tide may be ready to turn.

A new research report from Jefferies looks to the fourth quarter and earnings with a balanced view and four outstanding growth stock calls for investors to consider for the fourth-quarter stretch run. With all the indexes negative for the year, a decent run will be needed just to have a breakeven year.

Celgene

One of its top picks, Jefferies feels this large cap stock has solid upside potential for 2015 and next year, especially after the beating the biotechs have taken recently. Celgene Corp. (NASDAQ: CELG) has an outstanding partnered pipeline, which the firm thinks is low risk and has the potential to yield several blockbuster drugs. Jefferies also thinks the company can grow earnings 15% on a compounded annual growth rate basis going forward.

The company provided strong guidance earlier this year on its Otezla launch and encouraging feedback from doctors on the potential of new triplet regimens in myeloma. Analysts across Wall Street are raising their estimates for the drug as, after a little more than a year on the market, Otezla, which treats psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, has achieved considerable prescriptions among physicians.

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Celgene’s blockbuster blood cancer drug Revlimid continues to dominate. Pomalyst sales grew nearly 46% year over year last quarter. Cancer drug Abraxane is also growing at a respectable rate, so the company continues to have a strong lineup of top-selling drugs. While second-quarter numbers were solid, third quarter and the rest of the year could prove to be better.

The Jefferies price target for the stock is $140. The Thomson/First Call consensus target is $149.59. Shares closed on Monday at $104.79.

EPAM Systems

This company primarily provides software product development services worldwide. EPAM Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: EPAM) offers product research, design and prototyping, product development, component design and integration, full lifecycle software testing, product deployment and end-user customization, performance tuning, product support and maintenance, and porting and cross-platform migration.

Many analysts on Wall Street believe that EPAM is one of the top new breed vendors with the largest social mobility, analytics and cloud or SMAC exposure, and it is one of the companies best positioned to generate hyper-growth. The Jefferies team recently met with the CEO and feels that despite the macro volatility medium term, expectations of 20% to 25% compounded annual growth rate are still safe. Trading at 22 times 2016 calendar estimates, they also like the valuation.

The Jefferies price target is $84, and the consensus target is $77.64. Shares closed Monday at $70.44.

Intercontinental Exchange Group

This top exchange company offers continued growth avenues for aggressive investors. Intercontinental Exchange Group Inc. (NYSE: ICE) is expected to have solid earnings growth in the 2015 to 2016 period. The company boasts the leading network of regulated exchanges and clearinghouses for financial and commodity markets. It delivers transparent, reliable and accessible data, technology and risk management services to markets around the world through its portfolio of exchanges, including the New York Stock Exchange, ICE Futures, Liffe and Euronext.

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The Jefferies analysts met with management recently, and while volatility is boosting exchange volumes, much of the discussion was on the positive long-term potential of the data services business, where growth in this segment is in the early stages.

Investors are paid a 1.32% dividend. The Jefferies price objective is $260, close to the consensus figure of $260.62. The shares closed most recently at $227.98.

Rice Energy

This company has started to catch some upgrades around Wall Street. Rice Energy Inc. (NASDAQ: RICE), an independent natural gas and oil company, is engaged in the acquisition, exploration and development of natural gas, oil, and natural gas liquid properties in the Appalachian Basin. As of December 31, 2014, it held approximately 86,000 net acres in the southwestern core of the Marcellus Shale, Penn., and approximately 55,000 net acres in the southeastern core of the Utica Shale located in Belmont County, Ohio.

Some Wall Street analysts think the company is solid takeover candidate and see the potential for more than 20% growth over the next few years. Jefferies also cites the midstream asset portfolio providing balance sheet flexibility and the company being less likely to have to issue equity to raise capital.

Jefferies initiated coverage on the stock with a Buy rating and a $25 price target. The consensus target is even higher at $26. Shares closed the day Monday at $16.39.

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The recent volatility has been unnerving, but after such a long bull market run, it is to be expected. Jefferies is basically positive overall going into earnings, and many on Wall Street are projecting a solid fourth-quarter run for the markets.

By Lee Jackson


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