Stocks on the Road to Greatness

For every stock out there screaming "Buy me!" others simply give us a nudge and a nod. While all the attention might be focused on their five-star peers, we can sift through Motley Fool CAPS to find four-star stocks giving us the "high-five" signal that they're approaching greatness.

These opportunities -- including familiar names and beaten-down companies -- rank higher than most of the other 5,400 starred companies, and it pays to investigate their potential. For consideration today I've got a pair of stocks on their way to fame and glory:


Market Cap

1-Yr. Rev. Growth

1-Yr. EPS Growth

1-Yr. Stock Return

Amgen (NAS: AMGN)

$62.4 billion




Ford (NYS: F)

$45.9 billion




Source: Motley Fool CAPS

As the 180,000-plus CAPS members have chosen these companies as less-obvious sources for tomorrow's great buys, let's see why they might merit your attention.

In the sight of greatness
As the pharmaceutical world drives ever closer to its patent cliff, expect biotechs like Amgen with their rich pipelines to jump in the driver's seat and steer themselves clear of disaster.

While drugs in its own established portfolio can see tough new competition -- for instance Epogen, its anemia treatment that has ruled the roost for years -- Amgen is likely to face off against therapies offered by competitors like Affymax (NAS: AFFY) , whose drug candidate peginesatide just last month sailed through an FDA review panel 15‒1, despite some safety concerns. Other drugs like Enbrel just got a new lease on life after being granted a new patent on its active ingredient, extending a generic-free ride for another decade. Amgen enjoyed $3.5 billion in revenues from Enbrel in 2010 and sales over the first nine months of 2011 were 6% ahead of the year-ago period.

The biotech will be getting a new CEO come May and he sees this year topping a very solid 2011. CAPS member eblasy says Amgen defines what a biotech should be and will continue leading the industry's advances in the future.

This company will outperform the S&P because it was practicaly the original Biotech company. If there is going to be an advance in Biotechnology, this is the company to look for it in. Even though you shouldn't [usually] go for the big companies, this is the one to pick because there is going to be an advance in biotech very soon.

Put Amgen on your Watchlist, and let us know in the comments section below whether you think its growth strategy will come at the expense of their pharmaceuticals or will help them.

Revving its engines
Speaking of being in the driver's seat, Ford is speeding ahead, capturing market share from faltering Japanese automakers in the wake of serious natural disasters that impacted Japanese production lines. It turned out that 2011 was a good year for the domestic carmakers in general, industry sales topping 13 million vehicles as Ford captured share and now holds almost 17% of the market, while General Motors (NYS: GM) grew even faster and claimed 20%. Toyota (NYS: TM) , meanwhile, declined from over 15% market share to under 13%. The Ford brand sold more than 2 million last year, the first time any single nameplate has sold that many since 2007. In Canada, Ford has beat out Detroit rival GM as the top carmaker for the second year running.

Although GM's hybrid Volt was supposed to lead the way forward, sales came up woefully short of expectations, and it just initiated a recall of the entire line of cars for a fix. In that regard, Ford probably didn't need the big recall of 450,000 minivans and SUVs it announced the other day, but it retains the prestige of being one carmaker really on the move.

Despite a sizeable earnings miss for Ford a year ago, CAPS member GettingtobeaGuru believes the company kept control of the wheel and them out of the ditch.

The earnings disappointment in January 2011 was the first miss in 2 years, and I think that initial shock may be receding. So any disappointments in the future will have less effect on the price.

Tell us in the comments section below or on the Ford CAPS page whether it will continue to run over GM, and then add it to your Watchlist to see if it can put the pedal to the metal next quarter.

A great opportunity for you
Investor sentiment suggests these four-star investments seem to be on their way to five-star greatness, but if you're looking for just one energy stock to play in 2012, click here to read The Motley Fool's free report, "The Only Energy Stock You'll Ever Need." But do it today, because, like low energy prices, it won't be around for long.

At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributorRich Dupreyholds no position in any company mentioned.Click hereto see his holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Ford Motor.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of General Motors and Ford Motor.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended creating a synthetic long position in Ford Motor. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.

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