Our Analysts Wind Down 2011 by Buying These 5 Stocks

This year marks the first full year our Rising Star portfolios have been available for free to the public. Though we like investing with a longer timeline than just 18 months, the results so far are pretty promising.

Two of our Rising Star analysts, Alyce Lomax and Jason Moser, are crushing the market. If you'd like to see what Alyce has been up to, check out her recommendation below. Add any of these companies to your watchlist, and you'll stay on top of all the latest news. Read to the end, and I'll offer you access to The Motley Fool's top stock for 2012.

Darden Restaurants (NYS: DRI)
Never heard of Darden Restaurants? Maybe you're more familiar with its two top brands: Olive Garden and Red Lobster. Whether you're a fan of these two companies or not, Alyce has three great reasons to buy into this company.

While building her portfolio out with socially responsible companies, Alyce is always looking beyond the balance sheets. She loves how Darden offers health insurance to even part-time employees. It also doesn't hurt that the company is making a concerted effort to lower its carbon footprint. "Last August, Darden announced plans to install the largest private solar array in Florida at its Restaurant Support Center; the solar installation will subsidize 15% to 20% of the center's annual energy usage."

And when it comes to financials, Alyce loves the low 0.92 PEG ratio the company currently has, while offering a 4.1% dividend.

MAKO Surgical (NAS: MAKO)
For anyone who was lucky enough to get in on Intuitive Surgical (NAS: ISRG) a few years ago while it was building out its da Vinci robot systems, Fool analyst Dave Meier thinks he might have found another great opportunity.

The company has developed a system (called the RIO system) that allows for a knee replacement that is far less invasive, far more precise, and cuts down significantly on recovery time. Though shares have almost doubled since this time last year, Dave thinks the growth story might just be starting.

Right now, MAKO is still a small fish in a big pond. But the company isn't playing the game the same way as the competition. Rather than simply selling products, MAKO is selling hospitals a solution -- one that can generate revenue for them over time.

Infinera (NAS: INFN)
Dave Meier bought shares of Infinera back in November; recently, he went back for a second helping. Infinera's PIC chips can deliver greater performance for a smaller cost than alternatives, and with so many users joining the Web worldwide, there's a lot of potential.

Dave's reason for going back for seconds is quite simple and taken directly from investor Peter Lynch:

  • The best stock to buy may be one you already own.

  • When even the analysts are bored, it's time to buy.

As Dave shows, analysts are bored right now, so he's all for adding to his position.

Amazon (NAS: AMZN)
Rising Star Joe Tenebruso has just begun filling out his Rising Star portfolio. He has chosen to focus exclusively on what he calls "Tier 1" companies. Taking a page from Charlie Munger, he's only buying shares of companies that personify excellence -- while hoping for reasonable buying prices along the way.

While Joe admits that the company may be a little pricey, he thinks it'll be worth it. Amazon's initial focus was on books, and they've already eliminated Borders from existence, while putting Barnes and Noble on the ropes.

Now that Amazon is expanding to build its presence in retail, in the tablet market, and even trying to unseat Netflix (NAS: NFLX) in the streaming business, there's no telling how many industries Amazon will be ruling years from now.

InvenSense (NAS: INVN)
For our final analyst pick, we head back again to Dave Meier. This tiny company, with fewer than 250 employees, makes accelerometers, gyroscopes, compasses, and pressure sensors.

If those don't sound familiar, don't worry, Dave breaks it down for us: These are the devices that allow for sensor-aware electronics, like those present in Wii's original controllers. And while those controllers were cool, it's the tablet and smartphone markets that could be adopting this technology en masse in the coming years. Dave thinks there's still plenty of room left for growth in the company.

Our top pick for 2012
All five of these picks are worthy of your consideration -- and a spot on your watchlist. But if you'd like to find out about the Fool's consensus pick for the top performer in 2012, check out our newest special free report: "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2012." Inside the report, our analysts detail a company being called the "Costco of Latin America." I encourage you to get a copy of the report today; it's absolutely free!

At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributor Brian Stoffel owns shares of MAKO, Intuitive Surgical, Amazon, and Netflix. You can follow him on Twitter at @TMFStoffel. The Motley Fool owns shares of Amazon.com, InvenSense, Infinera, Darden Restaurants, and MAKO Surgical. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Amazon.com, Netflix, MAKO Surgical, Infinera, and Intuitive Surgical. 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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