The Big Question: Is the World Underinvested in U.S. Stocks?

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Blink and you miss it: Far too many investors missed out on the stock market's "screaming rally" over the past two months, and with bulls saying there's still more upside to come, why are so many steering clear?

Jeff Saut is chief investment strategist at Raymond James, and he's been bullish since the day after Thanksgiving. His reward? "Since that time the S&P500 is up over 130-points, more than 11% and some 50-points above the levels at which the index started, and finished at in 2011," reports Yahoo! Finance.

"The world is profoundly under-invested in U.S. stocks," says Saut, who thinks there is more upside for the U.S. market in 2012.

He reasons that a strong, but not too strong, U.S dollar is bullish for stocks. And because Europe has been very good about faking its improvements, the continent's woes are a non-factor for the time being.

He also thinks the upcoming election will be bullish for the market. He explains that Americans are furious with politicians and want many of them out. "Come November when the political bums get tossed from office, stocks will have yet another reason to move higher," summarizes Yahoo! Finance.

Business section: Investing ideas
Do you agree with the views of Jeff Saut? If so, you may be wondering which big U.S. companies are worth a closer look.

For ideas, we collected data on profit projections, and identified a list of the largest S&P 500 stocks that have seen an increase in their profit outlook for the next fiscal year.

In addition, all of these stock prices have failed to adjust to the rise in earnings estimates, signaling that a potential mis-pricing may have occurred.

Is the market underestimating these U.S. companies that have seen a rise in their profit outlooks?

List sorted by market cap. (Click here to access free, interactive tools to analyze these ideas.)

1. Eli Lilly (NYS: LLY) : Develops, manufactures, and sells pharmaceutical products worldwide. Market cap of $46.35B. The EPS estimate for the company's current year increased from 4.34 to 4.35 over the last 30 days, an increase of 0.23%. This increase came during a time when the stock price changed by -1.3% (from 40.74 to 40.21 over the last 30 days).

2. Costco Wholesale (NAS: COST) : Operates membership warehouses that offer a selection of branded and private label products in a range of merchandise categories in no-frills, self-service warehouse facilities. Market cap of $35.41B. The EPS estimate for the company's current year increased from 3.69 to 3.85 over the last 30 days, an increase of 4.34%. This increase came during a time when the stock price changed by -1.% (from 82.06 to 81.24 over the last 30 days).

3. Exelon (NYS: EXC) : Operates as a utility services holding company in the United States. Market cap of $26.22B. The EPS estimate for the company's current year increased from 4.21 to 4.22 over the last 30 days, an increase of 0.24%. This increase came during a time when the stock price changed by -6.16% (from 42.05 to 39.46 over the last 30 days).

4. Consolidated Edison (NYS: ED) : Provides electric, gas, and steam utility services in the United States. Market cap of $17.38B. The EPS estimate for the company's current year increased from 3.58 to 3.59 over the last 30 days, an increase of 0.28%. This increase came during a time when the stock price changed by -0.4% (from 59.6 to 59.36 over the last 30 days).

Interactive Chart: Press Play to compare changes in analyst ratings over the last two years for the stocks mentioned above. Analyst ratings sourced from Zacks Investment Research.


list compiled by Eben Esterhuizen, CFA. Kapitall's Eben Esterhuizen and Rebecca Lipman do not own any of the shares mentioned above. EPS data sourced from Yahoo! Finance.

At the time this article was published The Motley Fool owns shares of Costco Wholesale. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Exelon and Costco Wholesale. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a write covered strangle position in Exelon. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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